Gluing the top of the mantle to the frame
After mounting the mantle to the wall, I glued the top in place. To ensure that the top would align properly with the frame, I temporarily screwed it along the back edge and then edge routed the plywood with a bearing guided router. (The plywood is 3/4″ red oak faced ply. Lannie stained it with a light application of walnut stain and then an application of mahogany to get the color she wanted.) Assembly in place comprised of gluing the top to the frame, reinstalling the screws along the back edge and using plenty of clamps along the front and ends. The end result is surprisingly light and very stiff and it aligned perfectly. And, as you can see, Lannie did a great job patching, texturing and finishing the wall where the bricks used to be.