LOG FIREPLACE MANTELS
Installed and finished Walnut Natural mantel.
Enhance the "country" or "rustic" look of your fireplace with a log mantel. Most fireplace mantels are made from thin pieces of wood assembled to look like a solid beam. Now, a true solid wood mantel is available. These mantels are sawed to emphasize the irregular shapes and natural character of wood
Our log mantels are sawed over 4" thick to offer a bold look above the fireplace. After kiln drying, planing and sanding, the finished thickness will end up between 3 1/2" and 4".
The width of the mantels will vary depending on the size of the log, but the narrowest pieces are about 6 inches wide and the widest can be as much as 12 inches or more. Often the natural shape of the log can cause the mantel to vary in width along its length.
Because each log is different, the front face of each mantel is unique. Some will be smooth along the face, while others will have knots or character marks showing. It is common for a solid log mantel to have some splits on the top, bottom, or ends because of the shrinkage that occurs during the drying process. This does not affect the structural strength of the mantel and often adds to the character of the piece.
Our online inventory shows a picture of each mantel that is currently in stock, and the description of each mantel will explain the sizes and characteristics of that particular piece.
SPECIES OF WOOD USED:
Not all species of wood are suitable for making a log mantel. Since the mantels are sawed at a solid 4" thick, we need woods that are quite stable while drying, which means they will have less cracking, shrinking and twisting than other species.
Full Selection Species:
We also have to be able to stock enough of a particular species so we can offer a good selection of mantel sizes and styles. There are 5 species that work well for a mantel, and are also plentiful enough to make a nice variety available. Each wood offers its own unique character. Here is a general description of those woods.
Basswood: Because it is both light in weight, and light in color, Basswood will make a very interesting mantel. The wood grain is not very visible, but it does offer a variety of streaks and character marks.
Butternut: A medium brown colored wood with rich grain patterns. Butternut is also relatively light in weight and is quite popular as a mantel. It is often chosen by customers interested in matching Oak woodwork, because of its similar appearance.
Eastern Red Cedar: A combination of red and white colors in this wood makes a beautiful mantel. This species is also sometimes called Aromatic Cedar, and normally has a number of small knots and lots of rustic character.
Elm: Light in color, but with more grain than Basswood. Elm takes a stain very well, and shows a nice rustic look around knots and character marks. It can be stained to look like Walnut if the size you need isn't available in Walnut.
Walnut: A dark brown wood popular for use in cabinets and furniture, Walnut makes a beautiful log mantel. Although somewhat heavier and harder than the other species offered, Walnut still works well for a mantel because of its stability.
Limited Selection Species:
There are 4 species of wood that will make a nice mantel, but availability is somewhat limited. We typically will have some mantels of these species in stock, but not in every style or length. Below are descriptions of the woods in that category.
Cherry: Reddish color in the heartwood, with a light colored sap ring near the outside of a log. Cherry is often used in high end cabinet work, and makes a beautiful mantel. The heartwood will grow to rich red over time with a clear finish on it.
Pine: Light brown color with a wide grain pattern showing because the tree grows more quickly than hardwoods. Mantels wider than 12" are often available because the trees grow big so quickly.
Silver Maple: A light to medium brown color with some color contrasts showing between the heartwood and sapwood. The grain patterns are visible, but not as dominant compared to other woods.
Willow: A consistent medium reddish brown color with not very visible grain patterns in most cases. Mantels wider than 12" are often available because the trees grow so big.
This refers to the front surface of the mantel which faces the room and is most visible. Five styles are available:
Natural Face: With some logs, the bark of the tree comes off during the sawing and drying process. The exposed bare face will show the shape of the log, along with knots, worm track or other character marks. (Shown in Walnut, and Eastern Red Cedar)
Bark Face: Sometimes the bark adheres quite well to the mantel piece throughout the manufacturing process. These mantels offer the most rustic look available. The bark cannot be guaranteed to stay tight indefinitely without some tacks or glue, but customers who have installed these mantels for the past fifteen years report very few problems. Bark face mantels are more difficult to find than the other styles, so the inventory may have fewer choices available. (Shown in Basswood)
Square Face: This style has a more traditional looking flat surface on all sides, but it is still a solid piece of wood rather than glued up thin pieces. The face will show the same grain patterns that are seen on the top and bottom of the mantel. (Shown in Elm, and Walnut)
Draw Knife Face: If the face of a mantel is scarred in the logging or manufacturing process, we can sometimes smooth out the wood with a draw knife. The grain will often show as in a Square Face mantel, but the mantel will still have the natural log shape. It is also common for knots, or other character marks to show on the face. The ends of a Draw Knife mantel are cut square. (Shown in Basswood, and Elm)
Carved Face: The front face and ends of this style mantel are molded and shaped with carving tools to add depth and character to the final product. This carving will accentuate knots and other characteristics in the mantel face. Cracks that may develop in the drying process will also be softened. (Shown in Butternut)
See our mounting brackets page for information on brackets that can be added to your log mantel order.
HOW THE MANTELS ARE MANUFACTURED:
All mantels are sawed over 4" thick to show a bold look, but are still able to be effectively kiln dried at this thickness. After cutting a log mantel on our sawmill, it goes through an extensive drying process. We first air dry it in our yard, and then put it through our dry kilns. This may take up to a year or more. Once dried, the mantels are sorted by style. The 4" thickness is surface planed top and bottom to remove rough saw marks, and to bring out the grains and character marks of the wood. This is also when carved, draw knife and square mantels have that work done to their faces. The mantels are sanded before shipping, but we do not apply a finish. That is best done at the time of installation to allow matching of other woodwork in the home.
The method of installation will vary with the individual situation, and your personal preference. Here are some of the approaches that have succeeded for customers:
New Fireplaces: If you install the mantel before the brick or stone face is put on the fireplace, the mantel can often be mounted with hidden lags or support boards. It may also be possible to use construction cement if a masonry shelf is built in the fireplace. The brick or stone can then be put on around the mantel.
Existing Fireplaces: One of the most common installation techniques for an existing masonry fireplace is to drill holes in the mortar joints where the mantel will be installed. Metal pipes or rods about 1" in diameter can then be installed in these holes with anchors or pressure cement. Drill the mantel to line up with the pipes and slide the mantel on. Construction cement or a small corner bracket can be used to prevent the mantel from vibrating off. If the stone face of your fireplace is irregular the back edge of the mantel should be scribed to fit the stone.
For more details on installation please see our Installation Instructions page.
You can see and order from our current inventory of log fireplace mantels by clicking HERE.