Wood lovers know that sometimes you just can’t compete with the unique character of certain pieces that come straight out of nature. Fireplace mantles and similar floating shelves made from solid slabs capture the wood's natural character, often incorporating the live edge of the tree for a one-of-a-kind look.
To install smaller wood slabs 2”-3” thick, you can find ready-made metal brackets which can be fastened to the wall and anchored to the studs. The brackets include metal rods that extend outward at right angles from the wall, and the solid shelf must be drilled through its rear edge so it will slip onto the bracket with the rods inserting into the holes and supporting the shelf from within.
This may sound simple in concept, but the operation requires a high-torque drill, expensive drill bits, and precise alignment so the shelf holes marry with the rod placement like keys in locks.
Installation only gets more complicated as the slabs get larger. As they increase in size, the slabs get substantially heavier, and lifting them into place can require professional equipment. These large slabs are usually supported by 1” threaded rod driven at 90 degrees into the solid wall framing. The slabs are carefully drilled out to receive the threaded rods along the rear edge, in the same way the wall brackets interface with the shelves as described above. All connections between the threaded rods and the wood can be strengthened by applying construction glue.
Managing the Weight
Brian “Bucket” Kirkpatrick of Bucket Services HVAC installed a 6x12 live-edge Black Walnut slab as a floating fireplace mantle in his home. In order to provide the strongest internal support across the length of slab, he cut the threaded rods to match the varying depths of the slab. The rods are driven through the brick and mounted into a solid wood header within the wall. Note how Kirkpatrick used an adjustable wheeled scaffold to support the heavy mantle as he carefully installed it over the rods.
For friendly and reliable HVAC professionals in the central Alabama area, you can find Bucket Services at https://www.bucketserviceshvac.com/. Photos courtesy of Jaime Kirkpatrick.