Alter Eagle

Master Carpenter



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the custom mantels

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Fireplace Mantels
Custom Made Installed

We build your mantel custom proportioned to your fireplace. Each mantel is one of a kind.

We build the mantels locally in our woodworking shop in Sebastopol to the style and look you want and they are installed by a master carpenter

Custom Made Locally, Installation Included

Every mantel we build is custom made to each fireplace. They are designed to your specifications, architectural style preference and proportioned for your fireplace and it's surround materials.
We make Over Mantels, Full Surround Mantels and Mantel Shelves. All are custom built locally in our Sebastopol woodworking shop. To see even more of our mantel selections so you can mix and match them to your own style visit our mantel website King of Crown.

Custom Made Fireplace Mantels, Surrounds and Over Mantels

Location and Service Area

Located in Sebastopol our general service area is West Sonoma County and North Marin County
in the San Francisco North Bay region of California
Bodega Bay • Forestville • Healdsburg • Novato • Oakmont • Occidental
Petaluma • Rohnert Park • Santa Rosa • Sebastopol • Sonoma • Windsor
Licensed Bonded Insured - Building & Construction

Briefly what needs to be in place

We can work with you on the design layout for an upgrade to a gas insert, placing an new flat screen tv with an over mantel or installing a new electric fireplace see below for more.
To measure an existing fireplace we need to have to surrounding tile work and hearth completed.
Full Mantel Surrounds overlay the tile or brick and sit on top of the existing hearth.

Fireplace Over Mantels and Cabinet Surrounds

We will set up a time that is convenient for you to measure the existing fireplace, tile surround and hearth.

You can provide us with either a picture of the style you would like or choose one from our designs and we'll give you the estimate while on site.

For paint grade mantels we prepare and prime it for the final color then install it for you. You only pay after you have seen the mantel and you are fully satisfied.

The only time we ask for a down payment is if the mantel is stain grade and you prefer to use our finisher.

Fireplace Over Mantels

Over mantels like the one on the left, that we designed for a Craftsman Bed & Breakfast in Sonoma can be an excellent way to add style, warmth and functionality. This was a blank wall where we placed an electric insert and used it to frame out the flat screen. The TV components were placed in the garage on radio wave and our electrician checked the circuit load for code compliance before placing the insert.

Fireplace Mantel Surrounds

Fireplace Surrounds

We will build your Fireplace Surround to any style you prefer typically within a week. We make them locally in our shop, and we will measure it to fit then build it properly proportioned to your design each mantel is a one of a kind piece made specially for you. For paint grade mantels you don't even pay until you are 100% satifisfied and it is installed by us at your home.
Provide us with a picture or mix and match from the ones we show you here or our mantel website.

A brief History of Mantels
Our nature to gather around the warmth of a fire goes long into our history. We've had all iterations of ways to encapsulate that need for cooking light and heat in our homes, but the modern idea of a mantel for a fireplace only goes back to the 12th century. On the left is what is thought to be the earliest known mantel from the early Norman times. Unlike the single story Saxon homes the Norman 2 story home in Britain wouldn't accommodate the drifting smoke dissipating through the rafters so the need for the stone mantel with deep overhangs to capture the soot and the clay pipe chimney evolved.
Here in America into the 1800's a fireplace was purely practical and the mantel was just the beam or lintel over the opening. Although in the Georgian era in the early 1700's East Coast architects imported fine marble mantels of ornate Italian design. With the American Revolution and the blockades that all comes to an end and we began carving our own copies of the classical orders. Ben Franklin and Count Rumsford revolutionize the technology and with the advent of the industrial revolution more iron with coal and stoves are put into use. Getting more efficient the fireplace becomes smaller and mantels more of a focal point.

Use of the Classical Ancient Orders
In the Victorian age the more modern use of mantels as a piece of furniture evolves and with King Tut's tomb discovery interest in the ancient designs. With that a resurgence of the interest in the classic design orders of the renaissance show more in our mantels. Still though if you look through the archives in the Library of Congress you can see a lot of bizarre looking mantels way out of proportion get built you even see a lot of those out of scale disasters offered online today.

The arts and crafts movement and craftsman period shows a marked improvement in mantel design. Where the study of the ancient masters use of light, shadow, and perspective fundamentally the Golden Age of the English Renaissance was put back into the designs and local artisans could mail order parts or build from the reprinted books on the classical orders. Today we again have the opportunity for classic design with gas inserts.

The Golden Ratio
Whether ancient Greeks were unconsciously influenced by the presence of the Golden Ratio in their natural surroundings first and were led to develop toward that proportion, or whether they discovered its beauty first and then chose to model after it we will never know.
Euclid (325265 BC), in his Elements, gave the first recorded definition of the golden ratio and the ten scrolls of Vitruvius' De architectura 22 B.C. the only architectural writing that survived from Antiquity mention it's use in greek temple design. In De divina proportione (On the Divine Proportion) Leonardo da Vinci illustrated some drawings which led some scholars to speculate that he used it in his paintings.

Also known as PHI named after the sculptor Phidias (490430 BC) who sculpted the Parthenon statues that seem to embody the golden ratio and some studies of the Acropolis conclude that it appears in several constructions and layouts of the Parthenon.
Mantel Design
You can find the Golden Ratio in all corners of ancient architecture, literature, artwork and through out nature. Not all mantels can be designed to use the golden ratio but I personally find it a perfect place to start. After all if the ancient Greek Eratosthenes (276-195 BC) could find the circumference of the earth from a shadow and they designed buildings with proportions copied to this day. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Fireplace Mantel Shelves

Mantel Shelf

A lot of the homes here in the North Bay have the unfinished brick surrounds that only have a soldier course for a cap. We can finish those for you with a custom mantel shelf with some character so your fireplace will again be a focal point.
Many update the look by tiling or putting a slab of granite over the old brick facade and hearth and have us cap it with an achitecural element.

Visit our millwork and finish carpentry site for more mantel styles to select from

Website design by owner © Alter Eagle

Building Mantels For Safe Combustable Clearances
Combustible fireplace mantel materials like wood need to be held back from the firebox opening to minimize the possibility of catching fire. You know if you own one that wood burning masonry fireplaces (4114) can throw hot embers even through the screen. Sealed gas inserts and wood burning zero clearance contained units (2806) will have their own safe fire clearances in the instruction pamphlet.

Local codes take precedence over any national code but here in the North Bay we adhere to the new UBC the IRC and the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) so we are well protected if we follow the rules.

The combustable clearances I use
It's a little ambiguous and hard to find but all combustible trim-work needs to be a min. 6" from the fireplace opening. The combustable can't be more than 1 1/2" within 6" inches, then the projection is 1/8" to 1", so every 1/8 out you need to be one inch farther up. For the mantel tops I personally try to always start at 12" above before I start building out, and the leg projection 1" to 1" or 45 deg. from the opening, so I use one inch over for every inch I go out. I think that is better, safer and still looks good.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has similar requirements as the 2009 IRC. The NFPA code states that any mantel must be at least 6 inches from the fireplace opening. In addition, any combustible trim elements measuring at least 1 1/2 inches thick must be at least 12 inches from the fireplace opening which is equivalent to the IRC ruling which requires 1 inch of distance for every 1/8 inch of projection. (12 x 1/8 = 1 )

Fireplace Mantel Design and Installation

Estimate and Measure

Select the elements you like from our designs or provide us with a picture of the style you prefer
We will measure your fireplace, go over the design with you and give you the estimate while on site
Below are examples of what we need in place for us to measure for your new mantel

Masonry Fireplace with Wood Insert

We need the Insert installed in Place

Gas Fireplace Insert in Wall

We need the tile surround in Place

Electric Fireplace Insert

We build the mantel then the tile and insert is installed

Masonry Fireplace

If it's to be re-surfaced we need the tile in place and the hearth completed

Masonry Fireplace with Gas Insert

If it's to be re-surfaced we need the tile in place and the hearth completed

Gas Fireplace Insert with wall inset TV

We need the Tile, Hearth and the Wall Inset for the TV completed

Just a Mantel or the Entire Project

We provide the paint grade mantels primed then you can finish them to the color that matches your home
We can also provide you with our trades and you can hire them directly or
we can general contract part or all of the project for you.

This page last modified on Wednesday, January 09, 2013