Monday, December 21, 2015

Fireplace Revise

Not long after my girlfriend and I moved to Arizona I made the fireplace above for our Dining room.  It turned out quite well, but because there were plugs in the wall behind it, I was unable to make a 'brick' wall for it like the one I built a year prior in New York.

So I decided to play around with my fireplaces' 3D file and make some additions.

The new additions will make the fireplace and mantle wider, allowing for a brick wall and a space behind it for the plugs.

I'm also going to add a shelf in the middle for extra storage and decor.

One thing I'd also like to also fix is the top of the mantle.  After being made it somehow warped upwards.

With my plans made I went out and bought the wood I needed.

Instead of making bricks like I did in the past with thin crafting foam, I instead bought a faux brick siding.  This stuff looks to be some kind of fiberboard, and is about 1/4" thick.

Then I moved my fireplace into my workshop.

My first steps as always are to measure and cut the pieces needed.  Most of the cuts were made on my table saw.

The first part of this revise I'll tackle is the bottom of the fireplace.  I drilled pocket holes into the wood board I cut for the bottom...

...then I turned the whole fireplace upside down and attached it to the existing bottom.

Next I drilled pocket holes into the 2 boards which will make up the new sides.

The existing fireplace had these 2" x .75" notches cut out of the bottoms.  These notches were made so that the base trim of the walls in my house won't push the fireplace away from the wall.  The notches let the whole thing lay flat against the wall.  So I cut new notches into the new sides.

I then attached the sides using more pocket screws.

The new sides over lap the old ones by about 1.75"...

So to make the new sides flush against the old sides I drilled in some screws.  I tried to do this from the inside, but my drill didn't have enough clearance.

But the screw holes will be covered later, so it's all good.

Next I cut more notches into the boards that will become the inside walls of the fireplace.

Then these too were attached with pocket holes and screws.

I left the existing notches alone, as I will use these holes for passing wires later on.

Next part was to attach the fireplace back.  This back piece will be level with the back of the old portion of the fireplace.  

The reason for this is so that the plugs behind it will have room to be plugged into the wall.


 Next I assembled the new shelf for the fireplace.

This shelf makes the mouth of the fireplace smaller - which is good since my artificial logs and fire are so small.  Plus I have an extra place for decorations.

The shelf and it's back were attached to the rest of the fireplace with pocket holes & screws.

Next I cut some trim and routed the edges on my table router.

Then I glued and nailed the trim to the front shelf, making it look nicer.

Next I cut 2 leftover pieces of trim...

...and routed the sides.

Then I attached the 2 pieces to form an L shape.

These pieces of wood will hopefully straighten out the top of the mantle.  I screwed and clamped it to the mantle.

The top is a lot more straighter now.

Then I used my router to re shape the sides of the top.

Next came some wood filler to fill in screw and nail holes and other imperfections.

When the filler dried I sanded.

Then I brought it inside to see how it looks.

The fireplace is definitely wider, but not so much that people will bump into it when walking by. 

But it does successfully hide the outlets on the wall, and now you can hardly see the small wire that comes in through the side.

I also toyed with moving the fireplace into my living room and making it my new TV stand.

My cable box, computer and hard drives fit nicely on the new shelf, but the wires are unsightly.

The fireplace is also a lot thinner than my TV stand and leaves some gaps in between the book cases.  I can of course move the book cases closer, but both my girlfriend and I agree that the fireplace works best in our dining room.

So I brought it back into my workshop, put down a tarp and applied the same color stain to the new parts.  I didn't bother staining the large plywood piece that makes up the back since it will later be covered by bricks.

The stain I used for this was called American Chestnut Polyshades by Minwax.  This product has both stain and polyurethane in one.  I used this a lot in my early days when I didn't know much about staining.  About a year and a half ago I began using actual stain and polyurethane separately, and I'm glad I did.  Polyshades is not as good as actual stain.  It's thicker, runs and drips a lot, and doesn't penetrate the wood like normal stain does.

So after letting the polyshades dry overnight, I gave it a good sanding the next morning.  The color on the new parts is lighter than the previously stained areas.  I'll have to add another coat of stain.

But before I do, I want to start cutting the bricks.  These pieces of brick paneling are too large to cut on the table saw, so I made marks...

...and cut them out with the jigsaw.

The back piece looks awesome!

With the jigsaw making the paneling smaller, I was able to cut more pieces on the table saw.

I cut both sides and the floor.

I also cut pieces to fit on the shelf.

But I'm not attaching the paneling yet.  I removed the bricks and remembered to cut out the notch for the power cord to the fake fire logs.

 Next I gave the whole thing a good cleaning.  Then I put the tarp down again.

Recently I revised my Dining room buffet table - which was stained the American Chestnut polyshades - and I applied an actual stain called Jacobean.  The mixture of these 2 stains created a darker, richer color which I really liked. 

 I think I'll do the same thing with the fireplace.  So once the fireplace was dry from a second round of cleaning, I applied some Jacobean stain.  I left the stain on longer than I normally would with unstained wood.

Then I wiped away the excess and let it dry for a few hours.

Next I added several coats of gloss polyurethane.  Since the weather is colder, this process took most of the day.

At night I applied the last coat of polyurethane and glued in/nailed the brick surfaces on.

The next morning I gave the whole thing a sanding with a fine grit sanding sponge, cleaned it up and moved it back into the dining room.

Then I put some of our decor on it.

The bricks look great!

At the time of this writing Christmas is about a month away, so I placed some of my girlfriend's Christmas figures on the shelf.

On the top I put a nativity and some candles.

As always, my girlfriend will rearrange the decor.  But this revise turned out quite nicely.  Adding glossy polyurethane helps make the matte bricks stand out.

It's a great looking fireplace and I'm so happy I made this revise!
Thanks for reading!

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