proceed with mantle???

homefiresOctober 22, 2007

Hey everyone. I've got a question that I'd like to ask even though I think I may already know the answer, but here goes.

My husband and I are installing a non-functioning fireplace in our basement remodel.Yes, non-functioning....the hubby doesn't want a real woodburning fireplace and if I'm going to have a fake fireplace I'd just as soon not have the gas or electric either....I just want something to put a fireplace candleabra in and look attractive and hang the stockings from etc. So anyway, on the subject of something to hang stockings from, this is the mantle I'd like to replicate:

I'd rather just purchase one already constructed, but we tend to do all our own work around here. So, today the hubby came wagging home an 11' long chunk of solid oak. That would be great except I believe it is from a freshly cut tree....meaning this piece of wood probably had a bird's nest in it a few days ago.

So my question is....can we use this piece of wood? I mean, isn't it too green? What would happen if we used it anyway? Will we regret it later....even though we are going for the rustic look? Will it end up, in time,even more rustic looking than we want?

I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone has on how to proceed with this project....if at all....

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I doubt it will come to look overly rustic, since your inspiration piece is thoroughly cracked and beat up. In fact, I suspect it may not get as rustic as you want it.

Notice a couple of things about the mantle in the picture.

First, the support pieces underneath, which look like they were cut from the same beam that the mantle was cut from, have the center or "pith" of the tree going right through the middle. The interesting cracks on the outsides of the beam happened because of the way wood shrinks around the tree center; if the piece your hubby brought home doesn't include the center of the tree, it won't develop such cracks as it dries.

Second, that beam in the pic was recycled from some other use, probably in a barn, which gave it it's patina. A freshly cut beam installed in a residential setting will never develop that sort of surface.

There could be moisture-related issues if freshly-cut wood were installed against vulnerable wall materials such as drywall. It will take years for a piece that size to fully dry out, during which time it will shrink and warp somewhat unpredictably.

If you want what's in the picture, I'd seek out someone selling the beams from an old timber-frame barn.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 9:10AM
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Jon, thank you so much for your prompt and informative response. I agree with your last statement about finding an old barn beam someone is just going to ditch anyway. That's really what I had been thinking all along. Then it would already be weathered and narly looking leaving very little work for us to do on it. Kind of hated to rain on the hubby's parade though yesterday. He seemed so proud of that behemoth beam he drug in....not to mention the effort it took he and our nephew to do it. It's a bit on the heavy side.;o)

So I'm still not sure how to proceed. The beam actually does appear to have most of the center of the tree is a bit off center, but mostly there anyway. But you made a good point about it not having the weathered look of something that's been aging for years and I'm not real sure how to recreate that. And even if I did manage to recreate it, would it not be adversely affected by future warping and/or cracking?

Well, I'll just have to ponder this some more.
Thanks again for your advice. I really do appreciate it.:o)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 11:11AM
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any way to have it dried? Maybe that would speed up the aging process? (it's working for me ;o) )

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 6:57PM
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