Mantel Made From Recycled Ceiling Beams

Turn a boxy, boring room into a charming space with built-in shelves and plenty of character.


Materials and Tools:

two 2"x6" pieces of Douglas fir, each 5 ft. long
six 6" wood screws
one can of polyurethane
table saw
Elmer's wood glue
measuring tape
contractor's pencil
drill and bits
router (roman ogee)
biscuits and biscuit router (optional)
chop saw


1. Measure the width of the existing fireplace mantel. Examine how it is affixed, and remove it in one piece using a hammer and chisel.

2. While refinishing the fireplace, we used a scrap piece of wood the same thickness and length to act as a temporary mantel piece while we worked on the fireplace.

3. It doesn't matter what recycled material you use. We are going to recycle old ceiling beams. Be careful to remove any nails and staples from the wood.

4. Use the chop saw to cut the 2x6s to the length of the new mantel piece. Lay the two 2x6s side by side; measure and mark where the two will be screwed together.

5. Using painter's tape, mark the depth of the hole you'll drill on the drill bit; in this case it was 3 inches. Then wrap the tape around the drill bit. Drill the hole into one 2x6, stopping the drill at the top of the tape line on the drill bit.

6. Use a longer bit to drill through the hole through the bottom of the 2x6. Once the hole has been created, find the most interesting areas with grains to use as the top and front of mantel, then screw and glue together the two pieces side by side, creating one wide mantel piece. (You can also use biscuits to obtain a stronger joint.)

7. We clamped a piece of wood to the mantel for a test run with our router to make sure it was at the correct angle before we began with our recycled beam. On both sides of the mantel, stop the router 1-1/2 inches from the back edge to allow the mantel to slide flush against the brickwork. Then continue routing across the front to the opposite side.

8. In a well-ventilated area, stir the polyurethane that you will use to finish the recycled beams. Apply polyurethane to the tops and sides of the wood. We used four coats of polyurethane on our mantel.

9. Affix the new mantel in place.

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