How to Build an Arched Fireplace Surround

An arched fireplace surround

Fireplace arches can be as large or as decorative as you desire.

Building a fireplace surround, be it a simple or complex surround you are forming, works on the standard principles of building a frame and covering the frame over to form the visible surface of the surround. You can make the frame and the covering as simple or intricate as you desire, including adding shelves for ornaments as desired. When framing an arched fireplace surround, the covering on the arch must contain notches to allow the wood to bend into an arc without breaking, otherwise the heat from the fire may cause the wood to expand and split.

You Will Need

  • 14 pieces of 1-by-2-inch lumber
  • Hammer drill
  • Wall plugs
  • 4-inch long screws
  • 2-inch long screws
  • 1-inch long screws
  • 1-inch drill bit
  • 1-inch diameter dowel rod
  • Wood glue

Step 1
Measure the height and width of the opening in your chimney, using a tape measure. The height of the opening is measured from the hearth to the point where the opening begins to curve into the arch. Cut four pieces of one-by-two-inch lumber to the height of the opening, using a circular saw.

Step 2
Cut two pieces of one-by-two-inch lumber to the width of the opening plus an additional 12 inches. Cut four pieces of one-by-two-inch lumber four inches long. Cut two pieces of one-by-two-inch lumber as long as half the width of the opening.

Step 3
Stand one of the opening-height pieces vertically on either side of the opening with a 1-inch wide edge against the wall. Drill holes through the pieces and into the wall every six inches along their length, using a hammer drill. Plug the holes in the wall with wall plugs. Align the holes in the pieces up with the holes in the wall. Screw the pieces to the wall using 4-inch long screws.

Step 4
Screw one 4-inch long piece to the wall at the top and bottom of both opening-height pieces, in the same manner you screwed the opening-height pieces to the wall. Screw a second opening-height piece to the wall on the other side of the 4-inch long pieces, to form a rectangle on either side of the fireplace opening. Screw the opening-length pieces to the 4-inch long pieces with 1 countersunk 1 1/2-inch-long screw per piece.

Step 5
Stand one half-opening long piece vertically on the outer edges of the opening-length rectangles. Screw the half-opening long pieces to the wall in the same manner as the other pieces. Cut a piece of one-by-two inch lumber four inches long. Cut the piece in half diagonally, to form two right-angled triangles.

Step 6
Screw the right-angled triangles to the two half-opening long pieces with the right angles of the triangles flush with the top edge of the half-opening long pieces. Use one 1-inch long screw at the bottom of the triangle and one 2-inch long screw in the middle of the triangle to connect the pieces together. Leave the top of the triangle unscrewed for the moment.

Step 7
Fasten a 1-inch drill bit to the hammer drill. Drill 1-inch wide, 1-inch deep holes into one 1-inch wide face of both opening-wide pieces, every 6 inches along the length of both pieces. Count the number of holes in one of the pieces. Cut the 1-inch diameter dowel into this many pieces, using the circular saw.

Step 8
Apply wood glue around each dowel piece. Tap the pieces into the holes on one of the opening-wide one-by-two inch pieces, using a hammer. Align the ends of the dowel pieces with the holes in the second one-by-two inch piece. Tap the second one-by-two inch piece onto the dowel pieces using a hammer, until the two one-by-two inch pieces are flush with one-another. This forms the mantelpiece for your fire surround.

Step 9
Stand the mantelpiece on top of the half-opening long pieces and the right-angled triangles. Screw the mantelpiece onto the half-opening long pieces using two countersunk 2-inch long screws. Screw the right-angled triangles to the underside of the mantelpiece using one countersunk 1-inch long screw per triangle. The frame of the fireplace is now complete.

Step 10
Cut two sheets of 1/2 inch thick plywood as long as the height of the fireplace surround frame, and two inches wide. Nail one sheet to either side of the fireplace frame using a hammer and 1 inch long nails. Cut two sheet of 1/2 inch thick plywood as long as the height of the fireplace opening, and six inches wide. Nail one sheet over the frame on either side of the fireplace opening.

Step 11
Cut one sheet of 1/2 inch thick plywood as long as the width of the fireplace opening plus 12 inches, and 4 inches wide. Nail the sheet on top of the mantelpiece. Cut a sheet of 1/2 inch thick plywood as long as half the width of the opening plus two inches, and four inches wide.

Step 12
Measure one inch down one long side of the sheet and draw a horizontal line across the sheet with a pencil and ruler. Measure one inch in from the opposite end of the edge and draw another horizontal line. Draw a diagonal line across the space between the two horizontal lines.

Step 13
Cut along the diagonal line you just drew using a jigsaw, to form two end pieces. Hold one end piece on one side of the mantelpiece so the diagonal line is flush with the edge of the right-angled triangle and the top of the piece is flush with the top of the mantelpiece. Nail the end piece to the frame. Nail the other end piece to the opposite side of the frame.

Step 14
Cut a sheet of 1/2 inch thick plywood as long as the width of the fireplace opening plus 10 inches, and 5 inches wide. Measure 5 inches along the opening-width edges of the sheet and draw a line across the sheet at these points.

Step 15
Cut a piece of string half as long as the width of the opening. Tie one end around a pencil. Pin the other end to one of the opening-wide edges of the sheet, half way between the lines you drew. Draw out an arch on the sheet using the pencil. Cut along the arch line using a jigsaw. Nail the arch to the frame above the fireplace opening and between the triangular pieces.

Step 16
Cut five pieces of one-by-two inch lumber two inches long. Place one piece at the top of the arch, between the plywood and the wall, so one face of the piece is 1/2 an inch above the arch. Nail the piece to the plywood. Place and nail two more pieces into the arch on either side to the first piece, in the same manner. These pieces form the arch bracing.

Step 17
Measure the length of the arch using a tape measure. Cut a sheet of 1/2 inch thick plywood as long as the length of the arch, and two inches wide. Cut 1/4-inch deep notches in one 2-inch wide face of the sheet every two inches along the length of the sheet, using a chop saw.

Step 18
Curve the piece around the arch with the chopped face on the outside of the curve. Nail the sheet to the arch braces using a hammer and 1-inch long nails, to cover the underside of the arch. Paint or varnish the fireplace surround using heat-resistant paint or varnish, and a paintbrush.

Finishing Touches
When painting the fireplace surround, use a neutral color such as white or sandy brown rather than a bold color such as red. This will give your fireplace a more relaxing, inviting look.

Warning
When cutting wood, always ensure that you keep your hands as far from the saw blade as possible. This avoids the possibility of cutting your hands in the event that the saw blade or the wood slips, or the wood catches on the blade and gets pulled in.

Image courtesy of SalvoWEB.

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