Creating a fireplace

The fireplace has been more of a project than I expected — in a good way, because I’ve enjoyed it. I originally thought I’d just sort of burn a marking on the wall where the fireplace was, but then I thought it should be recessed into the wall a bit to at least attempt a little realism, and then it would need something to frame it or it would just be a mark on the wall…

First I marked out the size and location of the fireplace, based on the exterior chimney size and location. Then I used my dremel tool to carve away the top ply of the plywood, and I did it roughly to get some nice texture. Then I used my woodburner to burn the wood inside the fireplace, which took MUCH longer than I expected — the plywood doesn’t char as quickly as pine or cedar, and the texture made it challenging to burn it evenly. Here it is about half-finished:

Then the burnt wood wasn’t dark enough or black enough (it was dark brown, but didn’t really look like the inside of a fireplace). So then I decided to use actual charcoal to blacken the inside, which worked nicely on the burnt wood, since the charcoal itself didn’t darken the unburned wood enough — it just looked like a black sheen on the top. Over the burned wood, though, it gave a nice realistic effect:

Then of course I had to seal it, or the charcoal would just rub right off, so I used a fixative, which worked great and left a matte finish. Then there was a small imperfection in the wood that had to be fixed. The top ply was slightly flawed at the edge in one small area, so when I carved it away from the fireplace, which was a half-inch from the bottom edge, that ply separated from the bottom edge too in a small spot:

I had some weatherproof putty, so I used that to fill the gap. It’s not very pretty, but that part will be covered by the floor anyway.

Now the fireplace is finished, and I just have to install the framing for it. I don’t know what, if anything, Thoreau had — I think he just used stone and brick, but I’m taking a little artistic license and I think I’ll use the same wood that I’m using for the decorative door, on the opposite wall, to frame the fireplace and make a mantle.

Then I’ll install The Artifact (courtesy of Michael, soon to be detailed in another post) above the fireplace. Perfect!

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