is it brick..... or is it??
I finally settled on a tile, a 4"x4" reproduction art & crafts tile which go well with the room colors - and my budget. The sample of 8 came which I installed and then put in an order for the rest. Having this settled I could then concentrate on starting the wood work. I had a general idea for a design inspired by some others I've seen and the fireplace in the other house I almost bought. It will be arts & crafts influenced like the rest of the house but a bit watered down since there are other influences to the design of the house.
Of course I didn't just go to the store and buy oak boards.... first I had to make them! This project will add a little more learning curve to my experience with the new tools I picked up in prep for reproducing all the missing wood work. I started out with 1/2" oak plywood base on the side which will be framed out 3" on the sides and 6" on top and bottom. The front will get 4 1/2" sides and a 6" top, all being 1" stock. The vertical pieces I milled from old door jambs taken out of the house - to far gone to be cleaned up into usable jambs again but enough to use here and keep as much original oak in the house as possible. The horizontal pieces were milled from my stock of rough sawed red oak. I've never worked with wood this hard before and I'm thinking this may have been an old growth tree the came down and was sawed up. The grain is real tight too. I even had to pre-drill for nails because they kept bending! So even if the original wood is gone at least old wood is going back in.
I added a small piece of accent trim on the bottom edge of the top 1x6 that wraps around to tie things together a bit. Next I have to mill wood for a mantel and add a crown under that. I would have went with brackets but since the mantel wraps around, it would have looked odd with no support under the mantel on the sides.