How To: Kirei Board Fireplace Mantel

Carter Oosterhouse shows how to use an environmentally friendly lumber to craft a mantel.


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A fireplace can be the focal point of any room. To make yours stand out, try dressing it up by using a great green product called kirei board. Kirei is derived from the discarded portions of the sorghum plant and is not only beautiful, it can also be used to create some great pieces of furniture for your home.

Materials and Tools:

two 1-1/8 inch kirei board top and bottom pieces, 70 by 9-inches
two 1-1/8 inch kirei board side pieces, 4 by 9-inches
1-1/8 inch kirei board front piece, 70 by 4-inches
wood glue
painter's tape
screws (3-inch and 4-inch)
2-inch cleat at 67-3/4 by 1-3/4 inches
table saw
miter saw




1. Start by ripping down and cutting the kirei board to the desired dimensions: Top and bottom pieces at 70-inches long by 9-inches, two matching sides at 4 by 9-inches and the front at 70 by 40inches. The final dimensions of the mantel will be 70 by 4 by 9-inches deep.

2. Next, make 45-degree miter cuts along all four edges of the front piece. The cut 45-degree angles along one side of the kirei and at each end for the top and bottom pieces. The side that will not have a miter cut is the side that will attach to the wall. Finally, miter the two end pieces on three sides, leaving the side facing the wall straight.



3. Lay out the pieces with the mitered sides facing down. Stagger them with the front piece in the center and the top and bottom pieces on the side, with the flat edges facing out. Apply painter's tape along the seams where each piece meets. This will assure the pieces do not shift. When using tape, make sure to use a type that is compatible with the surface, otherwise it may damage the material.



4. Take more tape and tape across the boards, making sure the tape is tight. This will hold the mantle tightly together when the pieces are folded.

5. Turn the piece over so the mitered sides are facing up. Generously apply wood glue into the crevasses of each miter cut.



6. Carefully fold the two end pieces upward, making sure they don't shift. Then turn over so the front piece of the mantle is facing up. Make sure the tape is nice and tight.

7. Add glue to the mitered cuts of the sidepieces and then apply at each end. Remember to place the flat end of the piece towards the back. Add tape over the seams, trying to make them as nice and square as possible. Then go back and place tape across the end pieces holding everything nice and tight.

8. Once the mantle is all taped up, let it dry overnight. Once dry you can remove the tape and apply a water-based stain to bring out the beauty of the kirei.



9. Cut a cleat that will fit into the back of the mantle. To figure out the measurement for the cleat, simply subtract the thickness of the wood from the measurement of the mantle, in this case 67-3/4 by 1-3/4 inches. Taper the ends of the cleat so that the mantle will slide on more smoothly.

10. Locate the studs in the wall and attach the cleat with 4-inch screws above the fireplace. Make sure to leave enough space between the bottom of the cleat and the fireplace to fit the bottom of the mantle.

11. Slide the mantle onto the cleat and secure with 3-inch screws on the top and bottom.

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