June 15, 2021
When we started renovating our living room. I knew I wanted to get rid of the ornate wood molding that was over the fireplace. But, had no idea that there was a hole behind that ornate wood trim. When we removed it before we started to paint, to our surprise there was a hole behind the trim. Great, now what are we going to do? We can't put it back now, nor did I want to mostly because it was dental molding and would take forever to sand it to paint. Shane right away wanted to put in our soundbar. I was not on board with that at all, that would look horrible just sticking out. Thank goodness it didn't fit right away, I did not want to be looking at a soundbar sticking out. The reason I love our living room is that the TV can be hidden with the touch of a button. (Picture on the right is before all the renovations.)
It took me a couple of days and a lot of Pinterest searching to finally figure out what I wanted. I saw a few mantles in RVs and mantles in houses that had the door. But, I couldn't find a mantle that had a hidden door in an RV. I asked Shane if he could build a wood mantle as you would have in a house. This one would be different, I would want it to open so that we could hide his soundbar behind the door. When he wants to listen to his music, movies, or sports we can just open the door.
Table saw - Or have it pre-cut at a hardware store
Wood - Cedar or Pine 2 - 1' x 6"
Electric drill or screwdriver
Sandpaper 60 & 120 grit
Stain color of choice
Shelf L-bracket 1 1/2"
Build the Box
The first thing you want to do figure out what kind of wood you want to use. We chose cedar planks because we had some leftovers from the trim we used over the slides. But, you could use pine or whatever you have laying around. I have seen some made with wood from a pallet, this could save you a lot of money. We measured the empty hole above the fireplace and added one inch all the way around. We cut the wood to length so it covered the hole and there was extra room to attach it above the fireplace.
Next, we had to decide how thick we wanted it. Well, actually, how much room we had available when we closed the slides. When we close our slides there are about 12 inches available. We wanted to make sure the slides were able to close with the mantle up. We decided to go with 3 1/2 inches for the width.
We made the measurements for all 5 pieces of wood. The three long pieces will be the same length, but the top and bottom will be a different width. And of course, your end pieces will be a different width and length. You will just need to decide measurements based on what you need.
The measurements we used are below.
Front board - 45" long x 5" wide
Top & bottom board - 45" long x 2 1/2' wide
Side board - 2 1/2' long x 4 1/2' wide
After you have cut all your pieces you can screw them all together. Originally, we nailed them together. Shane was putting in the soundbar later, and it fell apart. So, use the screws from the beginning, learn from our mistakes.
To hold the front onto the box you will need to use cabinet flip-down hinges. Linked here. This will enable the front door to open and the hinges will keep it open. We tried several other hinges and the boards wouldn't open level. These are the only hinges that we could find that worked. We found ours at Lowe's, but I linked them on Amazon above, so you can purchase them from there as well.
After you have it all put together, you will notice that all the wood is not perfectly flat. It will be a little uneven in places and not a square box. If you don't have a wood plane, it will definitely be rough and uneven.
First, we sanded it all down with 60-grade sandpaper on a sander, to help with all the rough edges and even it all out. After you sand it down with the 60 grade, use a 120 grade to smooth the entire mantle. The 60 grade will make it more even all over but will leave it a little rough. Go back over the whole thing using the 120 by hand. You want to use your hand not the sander so it only smooths and doesn't take off any more of the wood.
After you complete sanding with both grits of sandpaper, there will be dust all over the wood. You will need to clean up all the dust with a clean rag. We love to use the cheap IKEA white dish towels for projects like these. Some people use a cleaning solution to clean after sanding, but we never have.
Once your mantle is built, sanded, and cleaned it is time to pick your stain. I used the same stain that we had used for several projects in the RV to keep it cohesive. But, you can use any stain or paint that you want. If you decide to paint, make sure you use a primer before you paint. For stain, we use a clean dish towel, you guessed it another IKEA rag. They are only .79 cents, We buy a ton every time we go to IKEA, they are amazing and can be used for everything! Wipe a couple of coats of your stain on the wood, then use a clean rag to wipe the stain off. Let the wood completely dry outside before bringing it in to hang.
To hang the mantle you will need two people to hold it and make sure it is level. Set the mantle on the fireplace wall where you want it to go. Use a pencil to mark where the L-bracket needs to be. Screw the L-bracket on the fireplace wall first with wood screws. Then, you can just sit the mantle on the L-bracket. Screw the other L-bracket half into the mantle. Then the mantle is complete. Now you install your soundbar in the hole when you open the front door of the mantle.
Here are a few photos of the mantle open from the front and the side.
Side view, you can see the hinges we used.
Front open view, this is where the soundbar goes. The front of the mantle stays open if we have the soundbar turned on. If the soundbar is off we close the door and I don't have to see the ugly soundbar.
Written by: Patty Gill