Easily Construct a Faux Mantel for the Holidays

Not everyone has a fireplace mantel for hanging stockings, so why not make one? This shelf is easy to build with some basic tools and can be customized in color, style and size to fit any family and decorating taste.
Faux Holiday Mantel

Faux Holiday Mantel

No mantel, no problem! If your home doesn't have a hearth, fake it with this DIY project from Marian Parsons. Customize your homemade mantel with colorful paint and pretty knobs or hooks for stockings.

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Materials Needed:

  • 36" x 8" pine board (back)
  • 36" x 4-1/2" pine board (shelf)
  • 6' length of chunky crown molding
  • 1-1/2" wood screws (4)
  • D-ring hangers (2)
  • clear adhesive-backed spacers (4)
  • cabinet knobs or hooks (4)
  • desired paint finish and color (and primer, if necessary)
  • 2" sash brush
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • wood filler
  • brad nailer or hammer and 3/4" brad nails
  • miter saw or hand saw and miter box
  • drill and driver bits
  • pencil
  • tape measure
  • router and decorative router bit (optional)
  • safety glasses

Cut and Rout Boards

Cut pine boards to size or have them cut at a local hardware store. If routed edges are desired, use router bit in desired design (ogee bit was used for this project), rout both sides and front of top of shelf (36-inch x 4/5-inch board). For back of shelf, start routed edge approximately 1 inch down on both sides to allow for crown molding. Rout front of both sides and bottom of back board. Sand edges and faces of each board. Tip: Routing is optional and the shelf will still look great without it. Thin detail trim can always be glued or tacked onto shelf edges for additional detail.

Join Shelf and Back

Lay shelf with top side down and front facing away from you. Stand back of shelf on top end with front facing away. Tack into place with brad nails. Reorient shelf on work surface, so back of shelf is flat and shelf is hanging off surface. Drill four pilot holes sized to wood screws through back of shelf into shelf. Insert four wood screws to securely join boards.

Cut Molding

Use miter saw or miter box to cut molding to 36-inch lengths with both sides beveled and mitered in. Cut return piece to join molding to shelf for both sides. Sand cut edges smooth with 100-grit sandpaper. Tip: Cutting crown molding isn't as simple as cutting a 45-degree angle. It needs to be beveled, as well. The saw or miter box should come with a guide to follow for outside left and outside right cuts, which were used for this shelf.

Attach Crown Molding

Using a brad nailer or hammer with 3/4-inch brad nails, attach molding to face of back of shelf. Make sure molding is at proper angle and centered on shelf. Put return pieces in while nailing molding to ensure tight fit. Secure molding to bottom of shelf with brads, then nail in return pieces. Fill holes with wood filler and sand smooth. Tip: Your finger is the best tool for applying wood filler to curved surfaces.

Apply Paint

Apply paint with a 2-inch sash brush. Milk paint was used for this project, so primer wasn't necessary. If latex or acrylic is being used, prime first. Apply additional protective top coat if desired. Allow paint to dry before moving to next step. Tip: This shelf can also be stained.

Paint Your Mantel Red for Christmas

Paint Your Mantel Red for Christmas

Apply paint with a 2-inch sash brush. Milk paint was used for this project, so primer wasn't necessary. If latex or acrylic is being used, prime first. Apply additional protective top coat if desired. Allow paint to dry before moving to next step. Tip: This shelf can also be stained.

Attach Hardware

On back of shelf, measure approximately 5 inches in from each side and 2 inches down from top. Drill pilot holes for D-ring hangers. Insert screws and tighten to secure. Stick clear adhesive-backed spacers onto back four corners of shelf. This will provide "bumper" between shelf and wall. Measure board, evenly spacing desired number of hooks or knobs to hold three to six stockings. Mark each spot with pencil. Drill pilot holes in pencil marks and insert knobs. Hang on nails secured in studs or screws and anchors. Always use caution and wear safety glasses when working with power tools. Tip: Use knobs with a flat screw backing so shelf will hang flat against wall.

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