Friday, September 20, 2013

DIY Fake Fireplace

For my next project I am going to make a fake fireplace and mantle for my living room.  I've actually wanted to buy an electronic fireplace for some time, similar to the image below:

However, this fireplace sells for around $600.  That is too expensive for me.  Plus it doesn't quite match the rest of my furniture.  Luckily I found plans to make my own fireplace from Ana White's blog (seen here).

Using those plans, I made my own fireplace using sketchUp.

I changed some of the measurements so that it would fit in the area I wanted it to.

I also want to add a back to the whole thing and make it look like brick.

To make the brick I will most likely cut out pieces of foam - but I wasn't sure exactly what material to use at first.  We'll get back to this later.

Once I had all my measurements I went to the hardware store and bought my wood.  I had the people there cut all the pieces to size.

Then I followed the directions on Ana White's website and began constructing the whole thing.

A majority of the piece is held together using pocket holes & screws.

When I had a majority of the front and sides done I began leveling out the top.

To do this I used a block plane.

And my mouse sander.

When the sanding was done, I used my pocket hole jig to create pocket holes on the tops and bottoms of the frame.

Then I attached the mantle.

I then used my router jig to bevel the edges of the mantle.

And I also added some base boards.

At the end of the first night of construction I placed my fireplace in position, and the fit was perfect.

I made it wider than the plans called for, but it still doesn't block any part of my entertainment center behind it.

For fun I threw on a few nic-naks to get a feel of what it will be like when completed.

The next day I stopped at the art store and picked up some crafting foam.  I decided that I wanted the bricks to be made of this material.

Using my paper cutter at work, I began cutting out the brincks.

I made my bricks slightly different sizes and lengths.

Then I began working on the bottom of the whole piece.  Because of how it's built, the fireplace is heavier in the front.  This gives it a tendency to fall toward.  So I am going to build a floor for it, but I want it to be rounded.  SO after picking up a few more boards, I drew up a template for the rounded floor.

I traced this onto the board and then cut it out.

Using my router, I beveled the edges of the floor board and then I attached it to the rest of the piece.

Next I started on the back of the fireplace.  Using thin sheets of oak, I trimmed them to fit and nailed them in place.

This is what eventually the bricks will be glued to.  Since I will eventually be putting a fake fire inside this fireplace, I cut a hole out of the back so that I can pass power cords through it.

Then I moved the piece back into my living room.

I cut some crown molding and nailed it under the mantle.

I also found a cool looking wood center piece which I nailed to the center under the mantle.

Next it was time to glue on all those bricks I cut out earlier.

One by one I glued the bricks on to the oak backer.

I then glued bricks onto the bottom.

Looking good so far.  This is where I called it quits at the end of day 2.

For fun I rolled up some card stock logs (you will see where the logs come from later on in this entry), and placed them in the fire place.

And once again threw some stuff on the mantle.

I even placed an electric candle to give it more of the right feel.  With the lights out it really looked good - but did not look great when I took a photo of it.

The next day I started by making the bricks look more realistic.  I took some spackling paste and filled in the spaces in between the bricks to look like cement.

While that dried, I cut some small molding to fit inside the center.

While the bricks were drying, it was time to make some fire wood.  For the firewood, I decided to try something out that I saw on youtube.  A guy made some fake logs using bark and expanding foam.  If you want to see his video click here.

He did use some bark - which I can't seem to find during my lunch break.  So I'm going to try doing this, but slightly differently than the guy on youtube.  I found a nice bark texture on the internet.

I then printed this texture onto some 12 x 18 sheets of card stock.

Then I taped the tops so that the paper made a U-shaped tube.

I did this to a few sheets and then sprayed some expanding foam into them.

I eventually redid these logs, this time adding a semi-circular cap to both ends.

The insides were still hollow.

But these were more realistic looking.

I'll probably wind up using both kinds of logs.  When the foam dried I used a serrated knife and scissors to trim and shape my new firewood.

They don't look too pretty now, but they will after a little paint, but that will wait until tomorrow.  When the spackle dried I had a somewhat realistic looking brick wall.  I placed my logs in the fireplace once again to see how it looks.

And I also added that candle.  I also took a picture in the dark.  It's not the best quality, but it does sort of capture the shadows and highlights nicely.

The next day after all the logs were made I then took them outside and sprayed the foam parts with black spray paint.

While that dried outside I bought a tarp and placed the fire place over it.  At this point the fireplace was too heavy and awkward for me to try to bring outside.  So I am going to paint it inside using interior wall paint.

After all the paint was applied, I opened some windows and let it dry.

When it dried I started painting on various red colors to make the bricks look more realistic.

To give the fireplace a homly, used look I lightly sprayed some black spray paint.

I also used some grays to give the whole fireplace and mantle a look of being around for a while.

I also decided to touch up the white paint in between the bricks.

And then I repainted some black.

Then I sprayed some clear matte enamel on the bricks since I used acrylic paints on those parts.  I then opened the windows, turned on the fans and let the place air out, and the fireplace dry.

Now it's time to get some wood and a fire going!  I was going to build my own fake fire using silk, some colored lights and a small fan, but it was just cheaper ordering this little doo-dad.

Now that I have everything I need for a roaring, fake fire, I laid the fire down, and built the wood up.

And I have myself a fire!!  Now all I have to do is put the firewood and fire into the fireplace and add stuff to the mantle and I'm done!

Since the fire I bought was the largest I could find/afford, it is a little on the small side.  To fix this I sprayed a cardboard box black to use as a booster.


Now it looks great!

This has been an awesome project to work on.  It wasn't overly expensive and took only a few days to make.  Now my girlfriend and I have a nice, romantic fireplace and fire to get cozy in front of.

Here's a video of my fireplace, complete with logs and fire, in action!

Thanks for reading!


  1. The world's first working Pepakura fireplace! This project is so gloriously quirky! I love seeing your work, and the pictures really engage my attention as well as informing me. Well, it's coming into our spring, so I guess autumn is upon you, so hopefully you can put it to good use in the coming months.

  2. Thanks Phil! I'm happy that people like you are out there enjoying my blog and the projects that come forth from it. I try to give back as much as I can since I learn so much from various websites and people like you. Come Christmas, this fireplace will look even better, and I'll be sure to post pictures!

  3. Love the way it turned out.. The bricks look so real.
    I love your blog