The Dining Room Built-In: Coming Along Nicely

Just under a week ago I posted that the details had, at long last, begun!  At that time I had the faceframes on the bookcases, and had also made the toppers for the cases.  Then it was time to get on the fireplace.  I think this is the moment for a little mantle anatomy, at least so I'll know what to call the different parts.  This diagram is from Mantel Craft:
The first step was to get the facing legs on.

After those facing legs were on, well, that's when things got tricky - at least for me!  That brings me to another part of the fireplace, but it's not on the diagram above, so here's another, this one taken from This Old House on Pinterest:

You see, I wanted a 3/4" astragal to run horizontally, and protrude by 1/2", that would separate the facing header (or breast in the 2nd diagram) from the facing legs, which would set the facing width, also determining how wide I would need to make the mantel legs.  In addition to this, I wanted the astragal to wrap around the sides for a more finished look.  Here's the astragal after also adding the facing header:

The astragal returns on the sides were tricky.  My first cut I didn't think out very well and made 45 degree cuts.  Yeah, that made it so the returns would stick way out into the front of the neighboring bookcases.  It took me half an hour to realize I needed to cut a piece 3/4"x3/4" and change the angle.  Here's an overhead view:

It's not perfect, but I was pretty pleased with the turnout.  Told you it got tricky!  Once the astragal was in, I did the mantel legs.  I debated for a long time (this has been going through my mind for months) what style mantel legs to put in.  Up 'til the last moment I had planned on using fluted boards, but lost my nerve, thinking it just wasn't anywhere near in keeping with the woodwork here at 173.  So I cut the legs to leave the facing reveal the same as on the width of the facing area beneath the astragal.  But, I also didn't want the mantel legs to be just a board, so I experimented on the router, using up a bunch of scrap pieces in the process.  Here's what I came up with:

Kinda hard to see there, let's try another shot:

Look familiar?  It's the same profile I put on the tops of the front stoop railings this past summer!  Nothing like consistency!  Here they are installed:

And from straight on:

Things really started moving then!  The next step was to build the mantel shelf.  Now, on the first day of the project, when I bought the first boards for the base...I bought the wrong size.  After literally months of planning, on the very first day, I bought four 8 foot 2x8s instead of the 2x10s I needed.

The plan was to return them once the project was finished.  I have this rule, I over-buy, or buy the wrong thing for a project, I don't return it 'til the project's done - hey, you never know!  And that's exactly what happened here.  I wanted the mantel shelf to be 2-by material, so used a 2x8.  Okay, truth be told, I lost an entire 8 foot board to miscalculations and mis-cuts.  Good thing I held onto them. Through a series of bar clamps and pipe clamps, and strategic use of pocket screws,

I put together a pretty hefty shelf:

If you remember, the fireplace itself is electric, and back in November I ran the power supply into the fireplace carcass.  Well, it was time to get the electricity hooked up but I got to thinking - 173, being 90 years old, has a paucity of outlets, so....Why let an opportunity go to waste?  Besides, what if we want to put a light on the mantel, or hook up Christmas lights or something?  So I drilled a hole in the mantel shelf...

Then I put a desk hole grommet in...

Yep!  Already have something plugged in!  One thing I think I want to do though, is recess the grommet so it doesn't sit on top of the shelf.  Anyway, that brings me to the next step, actually hooking up the power.  The receptacle end was no problem whatsoever:

The complicated part was actually supplying power to the outlet.  Pretty obvious huh?  The choice was to find a line somewhere and tap into that, or hook right into the circuit-breaker box.  173 has a solid electrical setup, but the lines are all over the place...there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to what's connected together, therefore I decided on the circuit-breaker box.  Over the years in this blog, I have bemoaned my dislike of painting.  Well, there is one thing I hate even more than painting, and that's messing around with the circuit-breaker box.

Ugh!  Makes me shiver just thinking about it!  I've put new lines in before, but that was years ago when I put new power in the third floor.  Thankfully, putting the new line in went off without a hitch, but it was nerve-wracking even though the main switch was off, and I used three different electrical testers to make sure!  That said, with the electricity set, and the mantel shelf built, it was time to put the trim on.  

For the trim, I used this, from Lowes:

The idea was that there are some lines, curves and that rope look, all of which will hearken to both the hutch and the dining room table!  That's my hope anyway!  But the thing is, I bought two 8 foot lengths of the trim, and when I made the book case tops, I didn't think through the cuts and ended up without a piece to go the full length of the fireplace.  But I had two pieces that would go more than half way, so I had an idea - a plinth block!  

I've seen plinths on fireplaces in movies (yeah, I pay attention to such things), so I figured I was safe and it wouldn't look horrible (at the same time saving me another $20).  Then it was a matter of inserting the fireplace and seeing how it all comes together!

And there it is!  There's still a lot to do, but I'm done 'til after Christmas, I want to decorate it a little for a couple days!  Then there will be filling nail holes, caulking, priming, painting - not to mention making shelves for the bookcases!  But for now...

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!
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