I have joined the Christmas decorating masses, or at least the less competitive decorators I am certainly ahead of schedule compared to last year. I am happy to have a new topper that I grabbed at Target on the 26th of December last year. So much better than my previous star that didn't want to stay upright very well and totally got swallowed up by the tree. The tree is another 50% off score from Target in 2004. As you can see the baseboards are still not done in that area, or really any of the living room. Eh.
What is done, though, is... (drumroll)... the mantel!
It started as two 8 foot length of 1"x 8" select pine boards. Each was around $15. We mitered each side at 45 degrees so that the part of the "box" that was visible wouldn't have glaring seams.
We nailed everything together with Elmer's glue and 1 1/4" brad nails using the compressor and nail gun that we had from when I remodeled my first townhouse in LA. I remember I got the kit from Amazon - compressor and two nail guns. Seriously one of the best home purchases ever. I think I paid like $200 or something, I can't remember anymore, it's been more than 6 years. The top and bottom of the box you can see the seam but I am not going to sweat that. We used wood filler for any nail holes and small gaps - should you use filler for anything you plan to stain, try to me as sparing as possible just because it doesn't have any wood grain and you'll be able to see it a little too easily.
To mount it we put a 2" x 4", screwed into the studs, and then we nailed the top into that. Ideally we would have screwed the top of the mantel into the 2x4 but the angle was a bit tight and the nails are less visible.
As far as beating it up to get it to look distressed (and I hope it looks distressed considering I threw anything I could find in the garage at it), I used an orbital sander to get an uneven appearance, a hammer, the back end of the hammer, nail set (the little metal tool that you use to countersink nails), the metal hook of a tie-down (just swung it at it), and then I also twisted up two small nails with pliers and hammered into the wood, then sanded some more. There was no rhyme or reason to it.
Here is the mantel proudly showing off our stockings.
An the other bit of holiday decor - a custom runner thing my "nona" made me. She is always sewing something - a lifetime seamstress.
Now I don't feel like such a Christmas deadbeat. December 12th ain't bad.