Mantle Day

Building the house is a series of seemingly mundane processes and “work” punctuated by the rare fun task to give the project its seasoning. 

I went out to the house today to work on some odds and ends with my brother, who’s also our master carpenter for the project.  The pocket doors are all installed except the Master Bath pocket.  That door ended up being a 2′-10″ door which is a rarity in the pocket door world so we’re backordered on that one.  No big deal.  We also installed blocking for towel bars and toilet paper rolls.  Not the sexiest part of the job but necessary none the less.  I also moved the Dining Table pendant plates to be more in line with the lighting plan I conjured.  They were mounted outboard enough off plan for me to notice. 

Overall we’re humming along.  Inspections passed for all the rough ins.  Siding will start going up on Monday.  The final color scheme is a pretty poorly kept secret, but you won’t know until I post it here.  Actually final paint won’t go on untill Spring because we’re in the heart of frost season now and the afternoon temperatures no longer reach any manageable height.  And finally the largest window in the house will go up in the loft sometime this week.  How it will go in is something we’re still working on.  Hopefully with the help of the siding contractor we’ll get it installed.  The 45 degree metal roof makes it quite the task.  One other thing we did today is we installed a couple more LVL joists under the loft / attic ladder opening.  I like that the opening is still letting in a fair amount of natural light into the otherwise dark Cape Cod hallway upstairs.  In my dream of dreams and maybe someday I’ll install a glass floor in the attic and let even more light in.

I do need to check ProjectCam though.  I think he’s being neglected; his memory card may be full.

Once we wrapped up our chores inside my brother and I jumped outside and started looking for logs.  The fireplace is going to need a mantle to hang stockings from so I thought it’d be nice to craft one out of the timber we cut down when clearing the lot.  We only cut five trees down so we had a limited selection.  My first choice was the cherry tree I cut down myself, with Corky’s guidance.  It was actually standing pretty close to where the fireplace is today.  Unfortunately it proved to be too narrow.  Our mantle is 48″ wide, about 5″ tall, and between 3″ – 6″ deep.  The mantle will curve in a gentle arc to make it more approachable / pass-able.  The fireplace is in the center of the room and is in a traffic area so to have a solid rectangular slab, while more congruent with the style of the house, would project too far in my opinion.

We walked over to a larger pile of timber that was felled and stored near the east preservation area.  Amongst this pile are a handful off cherry trees and one maple tree.  We selected the lower trunk of a cherry tree as it gave us the most material to work with and would be softer to cut with the chain saw than the maple.  If I had to guess I’d say this is the cherry tree Corky dropped with the help of Jonathan the excavator.  It was a pretty gnarly tree that required some roping to assure it fell in the best direction.

Picture of the raw cherry tree log we selected for the mantle.

My brother then proceeded to make an end cut for length with the chainsaw.  A knob was knocked off the one end next.  We then positioned the log to make cuts lengthwise to square up the timber.  Eric cut off as much sapwood as possible.  The sapwood would show up as white bands in the finished product and wouldn’t stain as well.  Once squared up on all four sides we loaded the soon to be mantle in the truck for transport back to the cabinet shop for processing.  Eric will seal the ends and set the log inside to dry out.  By sealing the ends the log will more uniformly dry, but there’s always a chance the log with crack.  We’ll have to wait and see but it shouldn’t.

First cut of log for mantle. Note, you can see the chairlift chair in the background I believe.


squaring up the cherry mantle log with a chainsaw


Fin. (for now)

Once dried the log will be run through the jointer, planer and chainsawed into shape.  Ultimately it’ll be sanded and.  We’ll lag it into place above the fireplace when we go to trim out the inside of the house.

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