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Wood Slice Mantel Inset

Updated: May 4, 2019

Here is a popular post from my first blog that I am moving here for safe keeping.

You may have seen images floating around on Pinterest of beautiful old mantels with a faux log inset.  I’ve loved the look from the first time I saw it and I knew that I wanted to do that with our salvaged 1850’s mantel.  So I finally gave it a try and I absolutely love how it turned out.  I think the log slices add a sense of depth to the piece that really makes it pop against the wall, and it’s got texture and contrast galore!  Best of all:  It was super cheap and easy!

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TIME:  2 hours+, depending on whether you are slicing your own logs

TOOLS: measuring tape, drill, 1/2″ wood screws,

SUPPLIES:  a mantel that isn’t attached to a wall (salvaged or built); 1/4 ” plywood cut to size; narrow logs (around 2 to 4 inches in diameter), 1 can of flat black spray paint or a sample size of matte black paint, 1-2 bags of floral moss, a hot glue gun, Gorilla brand hot glue sticks

COST:  I spent about $20. (about $13 for plywood,$2 for paint, $5 for a bag of hot glue sticks and a few screws that I already had on hand)

STEP 1: Turn your mantel around and determine the best place to secure a piece of plywood on the back.  Measure across that distance.  This is the height and length for your plywood piece.  I took this measurement to Lowe’s to have it cut there.  You could also do this at home if you have the tools.  I chose 1/4″ plywood because it’s narrow and won’t be bulky at the back where the mantel meets the wall.

Spray one side of your cut plywood piece with the can of black spray paint.  You can use the cheap stuff.  A sample size of matte black paint, brushed on, would also do the trick.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t labor over it.

STEP 2: Screw the plywood piece onto the back of your mantel with the black side toward the front.

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Above is what it looked like at this stage.  And it stayed like that for a few weeks while I gathered the wood slices.

STEP 3: Attach the wood slices to the plywood using a glue gun and Gorilla brand glue sticks for durability. The slices that I used were primarily collected from the Lowe’s and Home Depot garden centers during the Christmas season.  Christmas tree trunks were the perfect diameter, and they were already sliced for me!  Another big bonus:  they were free!  (Yes, I was the lady rummaging through their bins of branches twice a week – no shame!)  Another bonus:  they smelled pretty!

But even with all of my collecting over the holiday season, I didn’t have enough to finish the bottom portion of my mantel, so a friend let me pick through her wood pile to get what I needed.  The logs I picked from her house were sliced with a table saw.  The slices can be random widths – 1-2″ thick seemed like a good size.

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Gluing the slices into place went super fast once I got going.  Don’t overthink the arrangement – mix up the sizing a bit, but other than that, glue away!

You can leave a narrow gap around each slice to let the black pop through.  Don’t feel like they have to be butting up against one another perfectly.  This is where the bag of moss will save the day.   Just tear off pieces of the moss and hot glue them in place.

I absolutely love how it turned out.  I’m crazy about the price too – you can’t beat $20 for this kind of impact in a room!

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