New Mantlepiece

The loungeroom fireplace has always been rather uninteresting. Although made of sandstone, it was rather dull. We tended to have our wood fires in the rumpusroom. It had no mantlepiece, and we felt that one would add to its appeal.

We decided to build one. We chose "Mangaris", an Indonesian hardwood that Rustic Timber claim is earth-friendly. It is a lovely looking, very hard wood, but hard to work with, and "8x2" (meaning 7.5 x 1.5 inch dressed) timber was over $4/linear foot. It blunts planer blades quickly, and must be routed with care to avoid burning the surface of the wood if you are too slow, or leaving a rough finish if you are too quick.

Here you can see Teddy helping Dad to do some of the final finishing. A piece of 120 sandpaper in the finishing sander could do only a few square feet before being worn smooth. Teddy was upset by power tools at first, but by the end of the job (that took several weekend days) he was OK with the less violent tools.

The finished product looks rather excellent, and it feels solid and heavy. It has been finished with carnuba wax, leaving a very smooth, silky touch and a deep, reddish hue.

The side pieces are very uneven to combine with the stonework (that is itself neither symmetrical nor accurately level) to leave a pleasing, apparently regular, symmetrical, optical effect.

We shall have real wood in place of the porcelain logs that occupy the fireplace, this coming Winter.