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DIY Electric Fireplace Mantel

February 16, 2016 by Scott - Saws on Skates

Hey there friends! Today I’m sharing some new DIY furniture plans that I have wanted to share for a long time. The reason I haven’t? Truth be told, I’ve had trouble taking decent pics of it. I’ll be the first to admit my photography skills aren’t the best, but I’m working to improve them. Are these award winning pics, certainly not, but they’re better than any previous photo shoot, so now I’m ready to share my DIY electric fireplace mantel with you!

how to make an electric fireplace mantle free plans

For your convenience this post contains affiliate links to products or tools I used to complete this project. Click here to visit my site policies.

I always thought electric fireplaces were so… 1970’s. Then my buddy bought one. This thing was kinda cool, strike that, it was warm. It provided a little heat thanks to an electric heater and the electric flames were kinda realistic. Then I went to a party and guess what? They had an electric fireplace. Even though the flames were electronic, it really had a cozy feel. I had know idea these were so popular. Then I thought a little more… I’m really starting to like these things.

fireplace plan 4

If I seriously was going to get one, I wanted to build the fireplace mantel myself. Ideally my design would solve a few problems… it would give me place for the TV and it would include an area to hide the cable box. (Hey, I see you laughing at my tiny TV! I’m not much of a TV watcher… I spend most of my time in the workshop!) I searched for electric fireplace mantel plans, but didn’t come up with much. I did find Mimi’s Faux Mantle plan on anawhite.com. I liked the design and decided to develop my own plan using it for inspiration.

fireplace plan 2

Next I needed to find an electric fireplace. I quickly discovered buying one separate from a pre-built mantle was going to be more costly than buying a whole unit. So that’s what I did. I bought a complete fireplace with a mantle. I would separate the fireplace from the mantel and repurpose the mantel for another project.

fireplace plan 5

With the inspiration and the fireplace I could begin designing my mantel. The style is based on the Mimi’s Faux Mantel. I made it deep enough to accommodate the electric fireplace, provide a sturdy place for the TV and a place to hide the cable box.

fireplace plan 3

While on the subject of the cable box, let me tell you how I hid it. The box sits behind a piece of glass. First I tried to make the glass disappear by covering the glass with some “limo black” window tint. That made the Mantle feel “heavy”. Next I had a second piece of glass cut and sandwiched a piece of fabric between it. I like this version better because it acts as a design element rather than trying to hide the glass. I also think using one of those faux mercury glass techniques on the glass would be a cool option.

Just a quick note… For my fireplace, I made the sides with frame and panel construction. This is where a dado (groove or trench) is cut into the sides of the frame rails/stiles and the panel “floats” in those grooves. I wanted to make this plan easy, so you would only need a few simple tools. So this fireplace mantel plan uses a panel applied to a frame. If you have a way to make frame and panels, you can do so. Or build it according to the plans below, which will yield a nearly identical look.

Electric Fireplace Mantle Plan

Printed Plan
Click here to download a PDF of the Electric Fireplace Plan.

Supplies
(2) 1x2x8
(3) 1x3x8
(1) 1x4x8
(1) 1x5x8
(3) 1x6x10
(1) 1x12x8
Cove molding – approximately 24″
Bed molding – approximately 48″
Glass door retainer clips
1-1/4″ pocket screws
#8 1-1/4″ wood screws
#8 2″ wood screws
1″ pin nails
Elmer’s Wood Glue
Glass – 3-1/4″ x 23-3/8″ check measurement of opening before cutting glass

Tools
Miter saw
Table saw
DEWALT Drill
Kreg Jig
Pin nailer

Note: Check the dimensions of your electric fireplace and adjust the plan if necessary.

Step 1 – Make Front Sub Assembly. Make the rails from 2 pieces of 1×4, cut to 22-7/8″ and rip one to 3″ and one to 3-1/4″. Drill pocket holes in each end of the rails, also drill pocket holes along one edge of the 3-1/4″ rail – be sure these holes face up when assembling the front. These holes will be used to attach the front to the top in Step 11.

Fireplace Front

Cut 2 stiles from a 1×5 to 28-3/4″ and rip to 4-1/4″. Drill pocket holes in each end. These pocket holes will be used to attach the front to the top and bottom in Step 11.

For alignment purposes, cut 2 pieces of scrap to 2-3/4″ to keep the correct spacing for the top opening. Apply glue to the ends of the rails, clamp to the stiles (be sure the pocket holes on the edge of the 3-1/4″ rail are facing up), check for square and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Remove the scrap pieces.

Optional: You can just use clips like these to install the glass, or you can use a router and straight cutting bit to form a rabbet, or ledge for the glass.

glass door retainer clips kit

Step 2 – Make Front Appearance Assembly. Cut rails to 24-3/8″ – one rail is a 1×2 and one rail is a 1×3. Drill pocket holes in the ends of the rails. Cut 2 stiles from a 1×3 to 25-1/4″. For alignment purposes, cut 2 pieces of scrap to 4-1/4″ to keep the correct spacing for the top opening. Apply glue to ends of rails, clamp to stiles, check for square and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Remove the scrap pieces.

Fireplace Front Trim

Step 3 – Make the Plinth Blocks. Cut 4 pieces of 1×5 to 3-1/2″ and rip to 4″ wide. Glue 2 pieces together to form a block, glue remaining 2 pieces together to form a second block.

Fireplace Plinth block

Step 4 – Front Final Assembly. Apply glue to the Front Appearance Assembly (Step 2) and place on Front Sub Assembly (Step 1) so the tops are flush and the Appearance Assembly sets in 1″ from each side of the Sub Assembly. Apply glue to plinth blocks and place on the Sub Assembly so the blocks are 1/4″ from the edge of the Sub Assembly. Once pieces are properly aligned, clamp in position and flip over. Pre-drill holes in Sub Assembly and attach to Appearance Assembly using 1-1/4″ wood screws. Attach plinth blocks using 2″ wood screws.

Fireplace Front Assembly

Fireplace Front Assembly 3

Step 5 – Assemble Side Panel Frames. Make two rails from 2 pieces of 1×2, cut to 7″. Make two rails from 2 pieces of 1×3, cut to 7″. Make two rails from 2 pieces of 1×4, cut to 7″. Drill pocket holes in the ends of all the rails. Make the stiles from 4 pieces of 1×3, cut to 28-3/4″ and rip 2 stiles to 1-3/4″ wide.

For alignment purposes, cut 2 pieces of scrap to 4-1/4″ to keep the correct spacing for the top opening. Apply glue to the ends of the rails, clamp to the stiles, check for square and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Be sure to make a right and left side.

Drill pocket holes along top edge, bottom edge and front (front has the 1-3/4″ stile) to attach in Step 11.

Fireplace Side Panel Frame

Step 6 – Assemble Top. Cut three pieces of 1×6 to 32-7/8″ and rip one to 4″ wide. Drill pocket holes, apply glue and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.

Fireplace Top

Step 7 – Assemble Bottom. Cut three pieces of 1×6 to 32-7/8″ and rip one to 3-3/4″ wide. Drill pocket holes, apply glue and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.

Fireplace Bottom

Step 8 – Front and Back Feet. Cut four feet from 1×2 to 5-1/2″. Measure down 3/4″ on one end of each foot and cut a 60 degree angle. Cut 2 center stretchers from a 1×2 to 20-7/8″.

Fireplace Front Feet

Step 9 – Side Feet. Cut four feet from 1×2 to 2-3/4″. Measure down 3/4″ on one end of each foot and cut a 60 degree angle. On the opposite end drill pocket holes. Cut 2 center stretchers from a 1×2 to 6-3/4″.

Fireplace Side Feet

Step 10 – Assemble Feet. Using the pocket holes in the side feet attach to the front and back feet with 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Drill counter sink holes in the bottom of each foot and center stretchers. The back feet are flush to back of the bottom. Front and side feet are set in 1/2″ from edge of bottom. Attach feet using glue and 2″ wood screws. Attach center stretchers using glue and 1-1/4″ wood screws.

Fireplace Attach Feet

Step 11 – Assemble Carcass. Apply glue to front edges of sides, clamp to the front and attach using pocket holes drilled in Step 5 with 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Position assembly on bottom. Assembly is flush to back and sets in 3/4″ on the front and sides. Clamp assembly to bottom and attach using pocket holes drilled in Step 2 and 5 with 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Attach top using the same method as the bottom.

Fireplace Attach Top Bottom

Step 12 – Install Bottom Panels. Cut bottom panels from 1×12 to 20-7/8″. Drill counter sink holes around the edges and attach to sides using 1-1/4″ wood screws.

Fireplace Bottom Side Panel

Step 13 – Install Shelf. Cut shelf from 1×12 to 29-7/8″. Drill pocket holes in each end and along front edge. Attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.

Fireplace Shelf

Step 14 – Install Top Panels. Cut 2 top panels from 1×12 to 7-1/8″. Drill counter sink holes around the edges and attach to sides using 1-1/4″ wood screws.

Fireplace Top Side Panels

Step 15 – Attach Back Braces. Cut braces from a 1×3 to 28-3/8″. Drill pocket holes in each end. Apply glue, clamp in position and attach using 1-1/4″ screws.

Fireplace Back

Step 16 – Install Bed molding. Please be careful – these pieces are small. Bed molding is cut just like crown molding – the molding is set upside down in the miter saw to make cuts. In other words, the edge that normally faces the ceiling is placed on the table of the saw. I would recommend cutting 2 end pieces first. Place the molding in position, make a mark and cut a 45 degree angle. Attach 1 end piece using glue and 1″ pin nails. For the center piece, cut a 45 degree angle to match the end piece you just installed, place against that end piece, make a mark at the other end and cut with a 45 degree angle. Test fit the center piece and the remaining end piece. Make any necessary adjustments. Apply glue and attach center piece using 1″ pin nails. Install remaining end piece using glue and 1″ pin nails.

Fireplace Bed Molding

Step 17 – Install Cove Molding. Please be careful – these pieces are small. I would recommend cutting 2 end pieces first. Place the molding in position, make a mark and cut a 45 degree angle. Attach 1 end piece using glue and 1″ pin nails. For the center piece, cut a 45 degree angle to match the end piece you just installed, place against that end piece, make a mark at the other end and cut with a 45 degree angle. Test fit the center piece and the remaining end piece. Make any necessary adjustments. Apply glue and attach center piece using 1″ pin nails. Install remaining end piece using glue and 1″ pin nails.

Fireplace Cove Molding

Step 18 – Sand, stain and apply a finish. Want this rich, dark chocolatey color for your fireplace? Then check out my Best Dark Chocolate Brown Stain tutorial for the details and top it with Bob’s Miracle Finish!

Step 19 – Install fireplace insert.

Step 20 – Install glass. Cut glass to 3-1/4″ x 23-3/8″, be sure to check measurement of the opening before cutting glass. Install glass using glass clips.

Now you’re ready to “light” a fire in your fireplace!



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10 thoughts on “DIY Electric Fireplace Mantel

  1. Brian says:

    I shouldn’t show this to my wife or ill wind up building one of these.

    • Hmmm… do you have any maple left over from buidling your hives? This might look pretty cool in maple! A friend sent me a note today about a source for stand alone electric fireplace inserts. I’m not sure if you have one near you, but she thought Ocean State Job Lot sells them for a decent price. Might want to check it out if you decide to build one.

  2. Bob W. says:

    Wow! That came out AMAZING! Very nice work, Scott.

    Do you keep track of the time that goes into each project? I am curious what this particular one required (drawing up plans/building/finish work).

    • Thank you Bob! I have a really bad habit of starting to track my time, then I get sucked into the project and totally lose track. I can tell you I created five different fireplace sketches before I committed to this design. Depending on the complexity of the design I can have anywhere from just a few hours to many hours invested in drawing up plans. Then between construction and finishing I’m going to guess there was at least 20 hours in this fireplace. I’m really pleased with it, so I think the time was well spent 🙂

  3. Wayne Falcone says:

    I am going to build one of these fireplace cabinets. Can you tell me how much airspace is required around the insert? My insert is a quartz electric insert

    • Scott - Saws on Skates says:

      Hi Wayne – I’m glad you’re going to build the DIY mantel. Please share a pic when you make it! As far as the airspace, clearances can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so I would defer to the manufacturer recommendations for your insert. If you’re removing an insert from another mantel like I did, I would base the clearances for the new mantel off the mantel from which you’re removing the insert. Hope that helps. Good luck and can’t wait to see your mantel!

      • Wayne Falcone says:

        I have completed my TV Stand/Mantle project. I sent you a picture from my personal email. If you don’t get it, let me know.

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