WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Making Mantels

Making Mantels
by David Getts

Linden Publishing: 2002
pb, 200 pp., $25.95
ISBN 0-941936-72-4

     This specialty niche in woodworking is full of building basics and common woodworking skills: crown moldings, raised panels, cope and stick frames, resawing, cornices, mitered corner construction, and stretcher assemblies.
     David Getts begins with a concise history and the design considerations of fireplace mantels, then continues through on-site inspections, alternatives in materials, construction, finishing, and installation.
     "The first rule in mantel design," Getts says, "is that fireplaces should be beautiful even when there is no fire. The second rule is that all rules can be broken, except the first rule." He makes an interesting point in saying there is a difference in building a mantel technically correct in form and function, and building one while using sound principles, yet considering all its surrounding architectural elements, including furniture, artwork, and the view out a nearby window.
     The nitty-gritty of construction issues includes discussion of kiln-dried lumber and correcting its flaws, correct alignment for glue-ups, joinery advice, resawing methods, router table use and jigs. There is a considerable amount of detail on moldings and cornices: mitered joinery, back beveling a cope cut, parting beads, rabbeted panel moldings, specialty crowns and casings, flutes and plinth blocks.
     A short chapter on finishing is included, describing wood preparation, sandpaper basics, caulking, filling and sealing. Getts discusses oil finishes, lacquer, varnish and paint. His chapter on installation goes into how to transport a shop-assembled workpiece on a pickup, problems with an installation on drywall, blocking attachments, scribing to fit, and french cleat attachments. He also mentions including side wall paneling, cabinetry, and even secret panel compartments.
     An excellent book, and very educational, whether building fireplace mantels or doing on site built in constructions.

. . . Barb Siddiqui