Saturday, April 02, 2016

Fireplace Refresh (aka Faux Fireplace Wood Pile)



Last year we had to cut down a beloved crab apple tree in our yard. We salvaged a few of the bigger stumps for side tables and then filled our fireplace with smaller cut branches. You can see a picture of it here at the end of this post.  We don't use our fireplace and it was a nice way to keep the toddler from investigating all the sooty nooks and crannies. 

But there were a few disadvantages:
1) there were so many piled logs that it was a tremendous weight on our sagging cross beams
2) the logs were piled, not attached, and Emma was fond of pulling them out
3) as they dried, the entire display shrunk significantly, leaving a 6" gap at the top. 



What they looked like after six months of drying (and tinkering by Emma):



We decided to remove the pieces, cut them down, and attach them for permanent display. 


Project: Faux Fireplace Wood Pile

Take a large piece of tracing paper (or several small ones taped together) and trace the fireplace opening. 



At this point I also removed the logs from the fireplace. Spider heaven in there.


After we cut out our paper template, I transferred it to a piece of 1/2" plywood and then cut it out with a jigsaw. 


At this point it was important to make sure it fit in the fireplace. Mine was slightly smaller so it could be shoved 4" back into the space. This was tricky as our opening was tapered inward. 




Then I painted the plywood facing using black exterior paint. I think anything would work as this is an indoor application that won't really be visible. 



At this point I took several pieces and cut them to varying lengths, ranging in height from 2" to 6". In the end, I decided that 4" pieces were ideal for my project. You could still see the black board between rounds if you looked really closely but any longer would have added considerable weight to the finished product. 


I used a chop saw to cut all the rounds and then blasted a few of them with a belt sander to smooth out some of the rough edges. 


Next I began laying out the rounds, starting at the bottom edge. 



Once complete, I lifted up each piece and added a glob of wood glue to the bottom. 


The next morning I came back and shot a few nails (from the backside) into each piece so they were securely attached to the backer board. If you didn't have a nail gun, you could do this with screws or a hammer. But it would be a very, very long painful process. I'd do your best to beg or borrow a nailer from a local tool share co-op or rent one from a hardware store. It would make this step only take an hour, instead of 4 or 5. 


I miss judged a few and spent way too long trying to get them back out. It was a pain. 


The finished product, once tilted up, rests securely on the ground. Just make sure that your bottom wood pieces will lay on the ground to provide additional structural support. 


I also added a clear coat of varnish to keep the ends from browning over time. We hauled it upstairs and slid it into the opening. 


All done. Nice and tidy. And protected from prying toddlers. 






 Materials
-Plywood backer board: 1/2" (Big enough to fill your fireplace opening)
-Tracing paper
-Wood tree rounds: 4"
-Wood glue
-Nails/screws
-Clear matte varnish
-Black paint

Tools
-Chop saw
-Jigsaw
-Belt sander/sand paper/rasp
-Optional (but very handy): Nail gun



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