Live Edge Shelves & Mantels What you Need to Know!

Live edge shelves, reclaimed wood shelves, and wood fireplace mantels are very popular right now! Though we are somewhat biased toward Redwood, there are a lot of woods to choose from when selecting a live edge shelf or mantel. Here at Redwood Burl, we cut mostly redwood. However, we do know a lot of suppliers, so we can usually find other woods too.

If you are selecting a shelf or mantel for your home, these are some questions you may want to ask yourself

Hanging Your Live Edge Shelves & Mantels

First, how do you want to hang your shelf or mantel? Do you want a floating shelf or mantel? Do you want natural wood brackets, metal brackets, or another style? The type of brackets you prefer affects cost and ease of installation as well as appearance. Floating brackets are pretty inexpensive and only have to be fitted to the width of the natural edge of the shelf or mantel. Usually, a simple cut to the bracket can make up for any inconsistencies in the wood. Natural wood or metal brackets have to be fitted to the dimensions of the piece.

Size of your Shelf or Mantel

You also need to ask yourself how wide and long the shelf or mantel should be. Natural edges rarely have uniform shape – that’s what makes them so appealing. Because of this, measuring your space is very important. Try to find the maximum and minimum width your space needs. This way you can find a middle ground and ensure your shelf or mantel won’t be too wide or narrow. Do this with the length as well.

Another important aspect to consider is the thickness. This is really important when choosing how the shelf or mantel will hang. When you hang a shelf that is, for example, 2″ thick, then you may want brackets that are also 2″ thick. When looking for a mantel, many suggest that the width should be in a ratio to the height of your ceiling. The higher the ceiling, the thicker the piece should be.

Type of Finish

The finish is also important to consider. We recommend Danish Oil finish for most DIY homeowners. It’s easy to apply and even easier to maintain. We prep our raw material to a much higher standard than most other places that sell raw wood. We often sand our pieces to 60 grit, run them through industrial planners, and do our best to make the DIY homeowners experience a little easier. However, not all suppliers do this, and often you will receive some pretty rough material, especially if you are buying at very cheap prices. If you have a rough, unworked piece, be prepared for a lot of sanding. You will need (at the very least) a random orbital sander, 60 grit to 220 grit sanding disks, a paint brush, Danish Oil, and likely a strong drill to finish and hang your shelf or mantel.

If you are looking to have your live edge shelves and mantels custom finished, then there are a lot more options. We mostly use spray lacquer and have many sheens available – satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. There are other finishes available too, but this is the most affordable and best looking by far. However, our oil finishes are a good choice if you want a more matte finish.

Whether you choose to finish your mantel yourself, or have a professional do it for you, be sure to shop around for the right finish texture for your space.