I returned to the hardware store and bought a handsaw so I can cut wood myself now! I suck at it and still want a small power saw or table saw, but I have made do to get the newest structual additions to the mantle.
I/we have decided that, at the very top of this midsection, I’m going to use the spare wood I cut these from to make a small drawer. That will, A, be a learning experience for when I “update” the kitchen bookshelf with drawers, B, give our “power station” shelf somewhere to store the cords where we can find them, and C, let me finally have an excuse to buy some of those cute drawer handles I have been looking at for no reason!
I also think I picked out the molding I want. It will be painted black (flat/matte black), but will give a slight ledge to the very top and hide the two top layers. There are a few different widths of these guys, but they come in 8ft lengths that I can cut to size. (That I’ll want done properly, I think.)
To install the lowest shelf, I laid the mantle on its back to screw under the existing bottoms. I had three of the four holes drilled when I found a large black spider tucked up under the ledge where I couldn’t see it until it attacked me* for trying to drill through it. I then went out back to saw wood until Rysa got home and laid down the law to that creepy crawly. (I can deal with bugs and spiders AS LONG AS they don’t appear out of nowhere close to/on me.)
*Disclaimer: by “attacked me,” I mean it moved.
After that, I got the shelf drilled in and put the wide shelves back only to realize I messed up the measurements. It will probably drive me mad, so I’ll undo the midsection shelf (not the bottom) so that it is directly in line with the wide shelves on both sides. Either way, those small shelves have probably doubled (if not tripled) the stability of the mantle. I am pleased with my amateur results.
Still to decide is if the cheap backing will be removed and replaced with a strip of wood per shelf (which also means the adjustable shelves will have to be made/made more permanent). They were cheap, are flimsy, and I like the idea of being able to see white wall through them, but I may just buy a cheap wood board (very thin) and paint it white for a matching back throughout. I haven’t decided how to do the backing on the midsection, but figure I will leave the opening for the outlet and up to the top bare while I add at least a small backing for the lower shelves.
Lastly, I have chosen some black matte vinyl sheets (one long 10′ roll) online that I plan to cover the top with. It claims to be permanent and will cover the whole length in one strip. While I did pretty good at getting wood that was not bowed and screwed them down to lay flush with each other, there is still a noticeable seam between them on the top.
Until next time!