Monday, August 14, 2017

Walnut Fireplace Surround


Hey, you know what takes a beautiful antique mantle with a white marble surround to the next level of eye candy?!? A walnut coat.


I know it's a little early in the season to be talking about coats, but can you deal with the prettiness?! 

OK, now that I've gone and showed you the final results let's dig into the details of this final element in the rejuvenation of this 100+ year old mantle. After we got the mantle painted, things were looking really good, but there were some holes on each side of the mantle from where the old fireplace used to sit.

We've known about the holes since we mounted the mantle earlier this year, so we've had some time to contemplate the fix. There was always the option to repair the sheetrock and paint the walls but as the mantle really started to come to life with the marble + paint, we started dreaming of adding a final layer to the scene in the way of natural wood. It just seemed like the perfect finishing touch. 

We knew we wanted to use walnut and we knew we wanted that walnut to be thick so the frame would be substantial enough to look proportional around the mantle itself. We had heard about a wood store from the folks at Highland Woodworking and popped by in early July to see if we could find what we were looking for. 

The wood store is called Carlton McLendon, Inc. and IT...IS...AWESOME! Because I design cabinetry for a living I'm a big fan of wood, but this place takes the love of wood to the next level. There is literally wood everywhere in every species and size you can imagine. Not surprisingly they had exactly what we were looking for in a big stack so we were able to sift through and pick the pieces we wanted.

These were the winners:


After that, they took the wood downstairs and ran it through the plainer. This machine smooths the top and bottom of each piece of wood, and makes it flat and symmetrical. Here is Brent catching the wood as it came through. This step was really cool because the beautiful graining and color started to show through immediately.


Unfortunately Carlton McLendon's didn't have a joiner which is the machine that cleans up the sides of the wood. This step is very important because we needed the boards to be the same size and STRAIGHT. Lucky for me, I have some super talented, woodworking friends, specifically Richard Oliver, an engineer at Bell, who rigged up a jig on the table saw to trim the wood evenly. The pieces ended up being 2" thick by roughly 5" wide.

With the wood all trimmed up we started the sanding process. Brent sanded all three pieces with 150 grit paper.


Next, we applied a coat of Tung Oil. We landed on tung oil as our finish of choice after talking with the guys at Highland Woodworking.  Natural walnut is just so beautiful, so we knew we didn't want to stain it, but rather just protect it and bring out its natural grain. They suggested Tung Oil, so that's what we went with. We applied a coat, let it dry for 24 hours, sanded it down (1st round with a 220 grit), applied tung oil, let it dry for 24 hours, sanded it down (2nd round with a 320 grit) and then applied our third coat of tung oil, let it dry for 24 hours and sanded it down a final time (3rd round with a 400 grit) with one more application of tung oil at the end.


Once the boards were completely dry, Brent applied wood glue to the back....


And then installed each piece, starting with the sides. Thank God Croix was willing to lend his muscles to the cause. 


So, because Before and Afters are just so satisfying to see, let's take a walk down memory lane...

The original fireplace:


                

The 100 year old mantle fresh out of my Papa-Jack & Grandmother's garage:


And finally........


Boom! We are proud of this one, she has come along way!

All photos are my own. 

4 Appreciated Comments :

Suzanne Stewart said...

i discovered you via Pinterest (your awesome office chairs) while laid up with broken ribs. After going through your posts I am a fan! Your posts are well written, interesting, and you have great taste.
Thanks,
Suzanne

Courtney Foster Shearer said...

Hi Suzanne! Thank you, that means so much and I really appreciate it! I hope your ribs are on the mend!

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