11.03.2011

DIY Mantel Shelf and How to Hang It

Awhile back, I was browsing through a linky party and came across this amazing shelf that Sarah made and posted at Faded Country.   All I had was a skinny black shelf that seemed really wimpy compared to Sarah's mantel shelf.  I got excited when I read through her tutorial and realized that it really wasn't too complicated to make...and....I could make it for next to nothing, which if you've read my blog before, you know that this REALLY gets me excited! 

Because I knew I wanted to use it as a full mantel shelf and wanted the freedom to put larger items on it, I used a 1x8x10 for my shelf.  I bought the wood at Lowe's and they were kind enough to cut it for me into two 4' long boards, and then 2 end boards that matched the width of the board. 

Edited to add:  I didn't realize that I neglected to add the rest of the measurements for the boards when I went back and added the directions to the post. (After looking over my shelf again, I think that I actually bought a 1x8x8, not a 1x8x10.) The top and bottom of the shelf are cut from a 1x8x8 and are each 4' long. The front of the shelf is a 1x6x6 board and was cut down to 4' long. The rest of the 1x6x6 was used for the sides of the shelf. When I had the boards cut at Lowe's, I had them cut the 6" wide board down to 4' long for the front, then set the top of the shelf on it (lining up the corners) and then set the remainder of the board in place on the side to measure and mark it for the cut. (The shelf looks taller because the trim hangs down longer than the bottom of the shelf.) 


There are a few things that I did differently, not because I wasn't already in love with Sarah's shelf (believe me I was), but because I wanted to use a piece of trim that I already had in my garage that was just waiting for a project to come along.  Also, I actually forgot that the tutorial called for brackets to hold it together, so I just pre-drilled my holes and used screws instead, which worked great.

One thing that was a bit of a pain is that my trim had already previously been painted white, so I took the extra time to sand it down enough so that I could stain it dark brown for the distressing at the end.  It wasn't a fun time I'll tell you that, but remember...it was free.  (That's what I kept telling myself when I was tempted to run for new wood.)

I stained the wood using dark walnut, then painted it with some leftover enamel paint that I had.  Quick side note:   I really love this color, it's called Alabaster and is from Sherwin Williams.  Their enamel paint for doors and trim in semi-gloss is pretty pricey (using a coupon helps), but it's really good paint.  I used it to paint my kitchen cabinets last year and it has held up better than I could have imagined.

I'm posting some pictures so you can see where I placed the screws, etc.  The lip at the top of mine is @3/16".   I'm not going to go into detail about the rest of the project because  Sarah has written an excellent tutorial on how to make this shelf and I don't want to steal her thunder. :) 



Don't worry too much about unsightly gaps (the consequence of using an old miter box), some caulk will take care of it.

Edited to add:  Sarah's tutorial is no longer available, so I'm adding some steps to the post. 

After I stained it, I used a foam brush and primed it first. I usually don't prime first when I'm distressing, but the color was so dark that I was worried it would take too many coats of paint to cover it up. I've done it with and without primer, so really either way will work. Just keep adding coats of paint until the brown isn't showing through. I sanded the shelf with sandpaper to distress it when the paint was dry to the touch, but wasn't completely hardened yet. It seems to 'peel' off better and leave more of the stain underneath, when you distress it, if the paint still has a bit of a rubbery feel to it. You can fold your sandpaper in half and use the straight edge to get the straighter distressed lines. Next comes the glaze (optional). I put some dark glaze on a rag and wiped it over the corners and edges and into the inside corners to make them darker. You can also wipe on a light coat of glaze over the rest of the shelf. The last thing I did was to spray it with a clear acrylic spray in the matte finish. I think that it richens the colors and makes the shelf look finished.

Edited to add:  I received an e-mail with questions on the construction and supplies, this is my reply.  I apologize that this post is so disorganized!  At this point I might need to rewrite it. :)

I used wood glue and screws to put the shelf together.  It's been awhile since I made my mantel shelf, but I'm pretty sure that I pre-drilled the holes before I screwed the wood together.  If you use a drill bit smaller than the size of the screw to drill a pilot hole first it prevents the wood from splitting. 

The top and bottom of the shelf are cut from a 1x8x8 and are each 4' long. The front of the shelf is a 1x6x6 board and was cut down to 4' long. The rest of the 1x6x6 was used for the sides of the shelf. When I had the boards cut at Lowe's, I had them cut the 6" wide board down to 4' long for the front, then set the top of the shelf on it (lining up the corners) and then set the remainder of the board in place on the side to measure and mark it for the cut. (The shelf looks taller because the trim hangs down longer than the bottom of the shelf.) 
Supplies you will need:

wood (1x8x8 and 1x6x6) I hope I'm remembering this right!
wood glue
screws (I just used some that I had on hand, if you ask at the home improvement store, they can direct you to some that will work.)
sandpaper (medium and heavy grit)
electric sander to sand the rough edges of the boards before and after you put it together (could sand by hand)
paint brush
stain
finish nails (to nail on the trim molding)
wood filler (to fill the holes from the nails and screws)
caulk (make sure it is paintable) and caulk gun (to fill in any cracks in the corners of the trim)
2"x2"x4' long board for hanging the shelf and extra long screws (this part is in the tutorial)
decorative trim molding (12' long or two 8' lengths)
saw (I used a hand saw and miter box to cut the trim.  It was a bit tricky to cut the angles and I messed up, but was able to fill the holes with caulk and they look great now.)

If you enlarge the pictures in the post I think they will help a lot on seeing exactly how it all fits together.

I hope I didn't leave anything out, if you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them. This way isn't the only way to get the look, but it's what worked for me.



One thing that I do want to share though is how I hung it, this thing is heavy!  I got the idea from  someone who posted about hanging a headboard this way, but unfortunately can't remember where I saw it.

How to hang a box mantel shelf:

1.  Cut a board just smaller than the opening of the back of the box mantel shelf. Mine was a 2 x 2 1/2, I think (almost square).  It was a leftover from a past project and turned out to be the perfect size.

2.  Use a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall and mark them, then mark the placement on the mounting board.

3.  Pre-drill the holes in the studs just smaller than the screws and in the mounting board as well.

4.  Next you will pre-drill holes in the mounting board to attach the shelf to the top of it.  Stagger them between the holes you've already drilled.

5.  Use a level to make sure the board is level and then screw it into the wall.


6.  Put the shelf next to the board, mark the placement of the drill holes, and pre-drill holes in the top back of your shelf.

7.  Place the shelf over the board, lining up the holes, and screw it to the mounting board.   I put in three screws.  You'll need someone to hold it for you, trust me. :)

That's it, admire you're new 'mantel'! 

So just for fun, here's a look at my unfinished Fall Mantel with the black shelf.  So, so wimpy.


And how it looks now with my new mantel shelf.  Now that's a shelf!

Click here for tutorials on all of the items pictured above.

I've never had an actual real mantel shelf to decorate, so this was an especially fabulous find for me!  My total cost was $10.40, which is simply amazing for such a big shelf!

Many thanks to Sarah for sharing her tutorial! 

Update:  It was just brought to my attention that Sarah's blog is no longer available.  If you have any questions about the construction of the shelf, please leave a comment and I'll try to answer it for you.

Today's Fabulous Find...DIY Mantel Shelf


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26 comments:

Robert and Cassie said...

Love this! I so want to go whip one up. Who knows, maybe the hubs will let me go buy all the stuff to make it :) Thanks for sharing such a great and fun project!!! You are amazing!!!

lynn said...

this would look so wonderful on my wall:) love this, janet! off to check out the tut--tfs!

Sarah Blankenship said...

YOU DID A GREAT JOB!!! I love yours and wish I would have made mine bigger. I keep hoping to get around to do another one because mine just isn't wide enough for all the things I want to put on it. I am going to feature you over on my page later this evening! I love seeing what others do with my tutorial. :) Have a blessed day.

Karen said...

What a beautiful shelf! You did such a great job Janet. I love the trim you put on it! It looks great:)

Erin said...

Wow Janet!! That mantel shelf turned out gorgeous! And it's amazing how it made all your decorative stuff look grander too. :)

BKWilliams said...

That is awesome! I can't wait to see it with Christmas stockings hanging from it with decorations on the top!

Lynette said...

Love the shelf. I want to make one!

Kristal @ Engineering Life and Style said...

I love this!!! I've been wanting something similar for my entryway....I think PB offers something like this for over $300!!!

Great job & thanks for the tutorial :)

Life In The Thrifty Lane said...

LOVE IT! Always wanted to do something similar. I'll have to Pin it! Thanks for sharing :)

Erin {Lavender and Lemon Drops} said...

Love it! I just made a HUGE mantle shelf also. Mine "sits" on corbels but I didn't put any trim on it... I might have to add some :) Great Job!

Liz @ thequickjourney.blogspot.com said...

that is so beautiful. i love it's size and the finish. so pottery barn!!! great job!

athome Meg said...

I already have a "wimpy" mantel on my stone fireplace. Do you think this type of mantel shelf - if made to the proper dimensions - would sit over the original one like a case?

Janet said...

To athome Meg: I think it probably would work, great idea! If your original mantel is secured really well to the wall, you might even be able to screw the new mantel into the top of it to hold it in place. If you try it, let me know how it goes. :)

Miss Meghann said...

We're so excited to make this, but the link to the tutorial blog is broken or doesn't exist. =( What should we do?

Kristen said...

How did you distress the paint to give it the worn/aged look?
I have already made the mantel and stained it. Going to paint it tonight. I would love to get the aged look you have....any tips or advice would help!

Janet said...

To Kristen: I'm glad you asked, I've been meaning to add details to the post now that the tutorial isn't available anymore.

After I stained it, I used a foam brush and primed it first. I usually don't prime first when I'm distressing, but the color was so dark that I was worried it would take too many coats of paint to cover it up. I've done it with and without primer, so really either way will work. Just keep adding coats of paint until the brown isn't showing through. I sanded the shelf with sandpaper to distress it when the paint was dry to the touch, but wasn't completely hardened yet. It seems to 'peel' off better and leave more of the stain underneath, when you distress it, if the paint still has a bit of a rubbery feel to it. You can fold your sandpaper in half and use the straight edge to get the straighter distressed lines. Next comes the glaze (optional). I put some dark glaze on a rag and wiped it over the corners and edges and into the inside corners to make them darker. You can also wipe on a light coat of glaze over the rest of the shelf. The last thing I did was to spray it with a clear acrylic spray in the matte finish. I think that it richens the colors and makes the shelf look finished.

I hope I didn't leave anything out, if you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them. This way isn't the only way to get the look, but it's what worked for me. Let me know how is goes. :)

LACY! said...

Looks great! Came across this when I googled "DIY MANTEL SHELF"... The cheapest premade one I could find was close to $200, so I'm pretty sure I could do this for under 20 (which sounds WAY better to me!) do you know if the building supply store/home depot would do the diagonal cuts in the trim? I don't have a saw! Thanks!

Janet said...

To Lacy!: I think you could make it for under $20 too, depending on the trim that you use, it can get kind of pricey. Our local Home Depot has a hand saw set out on a table for customers to use to make their own cuts, yours might have one too. If they don't you can buy a miter box and hand saw set for around $15-$20.

Anonymous said...

I love the shelf too! Have you seen the easy way to hang a shelf and pictures yet? It's called DOT Marks the Spot! It makes hanging anything fast, accurate and easy. www.DOTMarkstheSpot.com. Check out the how to videos on youtube.com/DOTMarkstheSpot

LACY! said...

Thanks! So my husband informed me that he has a chopsaw he keeps in the work van, haha:) anyway, I just bought all of the supplies and it cost me $40. I had to get more expensive wood since all of the cheap stuff was too warped. Anyway, I'll be making this shelf in today! Yahooo

LACY! said...

*making this shelf today!

Janet said...

To Lacy: Yay! I'm glad that it all worked out so well! I bet you'll find a bunch of other things to build now that you know you have access to a chop saw! I hope you love your new shelf as much as I've loved mine!

TheMoonAndMe said...

Thanks! I found your post on Pinterest and am so glad. I was looking to make a shelf like this and needed some handy instructions. :) Awesome!
Kelly

Norma Giannoni said...

I love it! Cannot wait to give this a try!

Norma Giannoni said...

I love it! Cannot wait to give this a try!

Janet said...

Thanks! Hope it all goes together well for you Norma! :)

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