A cedar mantel shelf is adaptable enough to suit a rural country house or an urbane modern city flat. The rustic treatment of the pure wood brings out its character and color. Left as close to nature as you can, a cedar shelf is a sculpture, passing as a fireplace mantel. Experiment with different configurations of cedar logs and boards to discover the perfect rustic mantel for your decor.
Cedar is a knotty softwood therefore it’s soft enough to work with easily but durable enough to get a mantel shelf. Northern white cedar and cedar red cedar is native to North America and never endangered, so the timber is broadly available in several forms acceptable for mantel shelves. Colors range from light tan to red or violet-brown heartwood and white to creamy or light yellow sapwood. A bark face is a thick, wide log with the bark on the facing edge. The smooth-cut top, bottom and sides show the knots and streaks of colour in the timber. The bark is rough and might have to be pasted to adhere to the log long term as the timber dries and shrinks slightly.
A natural-face finish is really a cedar plank with the bark away, exposing all the color striations in the timber, the wormholes and monitors, knots, sawn branches and some intriguing damage or wear to the timber. The stripped bark edge is obviously smooth but not attached, along with the juxtaposition of the light sapwood and heavier toned heartwood is visible and striking on the sheared-away shelf. The natural-face fashion of cedar plank is a sculptural finish which works well in a Zen minimalist or a mild, simple rustic decor.
A cedar plank that has been carved on the finishes as well as the facing edge is called carved face fashion. A woodworker uses various tools to minimize the irregular cracks which can happen as the timber is dried prior to shaping it into a mantel shelf. Sculpting also emphasizes the knots, fissures and other distinguishing markers in each specific bit of timber. Carving can gouge or strip away some of the light sapwood to show the rich shades of the heartwood to get a more varied visible layout. A skillful carver will leave small trace which the wood was worked carefully to pull out its whole character.
A square face is really a cedar log that has been cut cleanly on all sides to create a smooth rustic shelf without a natural edges, dips, crevices or cracks to create an uneven face. Squared cedar shelves might be sanded or rough-hewn. They are strong against demanding stucco or a stone wall or fireplace surround and can be invisibly mounted or secured to faux-rusted metal brackets, usually above a stone or brick hearth.