Carved Fireplace Mantels Completed

Back in the early summer, I started carving two fireplace mantels for some local clients. They chose me to carve the mantels for several reasons. I’m local to the area, which is important to them. I carve in the English/European style – that is, with carving gouges, not with power tools or duplicators or lasers. And I have toured their home several times and I understand their vision for what they want done with the place. They have a distinct style of home, which has an Arts & Crafts look, with a hint of Georgian to it.

These mantel pieces are quite detailed, and the clients were quite specific in what they wanted so the project took more time than usual. I met with the clients numerous times to ensure that I was carving what they were looking for. In the end, they were pleased with the pieces.

Here is a large overview of both mantels. The top one is carved in walnut, and the lower one is carved in mahogany.

P1020280

Here are a few more photos taken from different angles:

Mahogany Fruit Bowl
Mahogany Fruit Bowl
Mantel Appliques
Mantel Appliques

It has been a good challenge for my carving skills to do this commission. I’ve quite enjoyed the chance to work on two similar mantels but in different woods. The walnut was much harder wood than the mahogany, but much less brittle. The walnut shaved off in nice curls, whereas the mahogany was much more prone to chipping and splitting. The mahogany was faster to carve the initial shapes, but took much longer to make smooth. Surprisingly, the mahogany was much harder on my carving tools than the walnut. I found I had to sharpen and hone my gouges more often with the mahogany. I like both woods for carving, and they each have their uniqueness and application. For example, I was glad to not have to carve a fruit bowl in walnut – I would probably still be at it!

I have also enjoyed carving for clients who have such a clear vision of what they want and have extremely high standards for quality. They are well-read on the subject, and experienced enough that they can communicate with me about the details. I can’t wait to see these mantels installed, stained and varnished!

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Published by

Grant McMillan

I am the University Registrar at Trinity Western University, and I've been in the profession since 1997. I have an MA in Organizational Leadership, and have made a career of going into organizations that are in very difficult situations and leading them to a much better place. I teach Leadership to budding managers in the Adult Degree Completion program at Trinity Western University. I speak and consult, with organizations. Contact me at grant.mcmillan@twu.ca

6 thoughts on “Carved Fireplace Mantels Completed”

  1. What incredible workmanship. Amazingly beautiful. The fruitbowl looks so real i feel like I could pick up one of the fruits and taste it. Congratulations on a job well done.

  2. Awesome work, Grant. I always amazed of hand made wood carving. Nowadays when CNC carving machines can make such woodwork in a minutes, only hand carved wooden details have a soul.

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