Most homeowners prefer placing their newly purchased soundbars directly under their TVs (or sometimes above). And while such arrangements are popular, others opt for a more creative approach to set up and even hide these devices. One popular location happens to be the fireplace mantel.
Here’s how to hide a soundbar on a fireplace mantel:
- Identify the location to cut.
- Cut out a slot for the soundbar.
- Prepare the cut out frame.
- Prepare support pieces and soundbar stands.
- Prepare the soundbar environment.
- Drill magnet holes.
- Insert magnets into the holes.
- Cover the cut out board with fabric.
- Test the main board.
- Insert the soundbar.
- Insert the cut out board.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can hide a soundbar on a fireplace mantel like a pro. Ready? Let’s get to it.
What You Need to Hide a Soundbar
- Magnets: A set of magnets is preferred for this project as they’ll help hold the cut out board in place once you’ve installed the soundbar, effectively eliminating the need for permanent nails. The X-bet Craft Magnets (available on Amazon.com) are ideal for use in this project.
- Fabric: Fabric is both aesthetically pleasing and will protect your soundbar from dust. In this project, the role of fabric is to cover the space left by the cut out board and allow the soundbar’s remote signal to pass through.
- Saw: You’ll need a compact saw to cut out the board from the fireplace mantel. The saw will also cut the scrap wood to a size that fits inside the cut-out space. The Worx Compact Circular Saw (available on Amazon.com) can be easily maneuvered to get the right cuts.
- Staples, staple gun, glue, and nails: You’ll use staples to hold the fabric onto the cut-out board. Glue also plays a vital role by holding the magnets in place, before you reinforce them deeper with a rubber mallet.
- Power drill: You’ll use a power drill to create holes that will house the magnets. If you don’t have a drill, you can get an affordable one like the Goxawee Cordless Drill (available on Amazon.com).
- Hammer (metal and rubber): A metallic hammer will drive in the nails, while you’ll use a rubber hammer to hit the magnets in place.
- Soundbar and wiring : Of course, you’ll need a soundbar as that’s the main reason for this project in the first place! Ensure you understand your soundbar’s wiring requirements before you begin cutting anything. It would help if you also figured out how to hide cords when working on a fireplace mantel.
- Frame: You can mount a frame on top of the cut out using nails, to add to the aesthetic. The frame will also come in handy if you happen to make a not-so-straight cut-out. You’ll have to make the frame yourself using trim and glue as it’ll have to match the cut-out dimensions.
- Paint and filler: For desirable outcomes, you’ll need to paint the frame to match the color of the fireplace mantel. A filler will also hide the nail holes on the frame, allowing you to achieve a more complete look.
- Pencil, ruler, scissors, and tape measure/ruler: You’ll use the pencil and ruler to mark out the cuttings that you’ll make. A pair of scissors will cut out the fabric to your desired dimensions.
- Dedicated labor hours: Being a DIY project, you’ll need to dedicate some time to make it successful. It’ll probably take you a day or two to get done, but the results will be worth it.
Now that you know what to gather for the project, let’s look at how to fit your soundbar.
1. Identify the Location To Cut
Locate the specific area on your mantel where you want to place the soundbar. You can use a ruler to find the middle point on your mantel. It’s best to ensure your measurements are as accurate as possible because there’s little room for error once you start sawing.
Additionally, for this project to work, you will have to run electricals to the fireplace to power the soundbar as you won’t have access to external connections.
2. Cut Out a Slot for the Soundbar
Once you identify where to make a hole in the mantel, measure and mark out the exact dimensions to cut out with respect to the size of your soundbar. The cut-out needs to be bigger than your soundbar to accommodate it comfortably. The space should also allow enough room for wiring to be connected to the power source as cables won’t be coming out of the mantel.
Next, carefully cut out the marked area using your saw. It’s best to follow the exact outline you have drawn and ensure uniformity to keep the aesthetic as pleasing as possible.
Be sure to keep the cut out safely as you’ll use it in the next step.
3. Prepare the Cut Out Frame
The cut-out board won’t allow signals to pass through and will almost certainly muffle the resulting audio.
Using a pencil and a ruler, mark out a rectangular-shaped hole in the cut out board. The idea is to create a large enough hole in the board while leaving two or three strips in between, running from top to bottom.
Most people prefer to cut out the main board entirely and leave a rectangular shaped space to accommodate the soundbar. However, leaving two to three strips intact, depending on the length of the cutout, will provide better support for the fabric you’ll add later on. Leaving thin strips will also ensure that there’s enough space for sound to pass through.
4. Prepare Support Pieces and Soundbar Stands
Using the compact saw, cut three or four pieces of wood, identical in size. These pieces will act as soundbar stands, which you’ll use in the next step.
From the remaining scrap wood, measure and cut out two identical pieces that have the same height as your mainboard. These two identical wood pieces will act as supports and hold the magnets that attach to the cut-out once it’s completed (more on this later).
5. Prepare the Soundbar Environment
Once you’ve removed the cut out, you’ll have access to the designated soundbar storage area. Unfortunately, placing the soundbar without modifying this space will not give you the desired audio. Ideally, you want to place the soundbar slightly higher than normal for better audio quality.
Here’s where the wooden pieces come in. Place the three or four identical pieces of wood beneath the soundbar so the device is elevated and well above any obstruction in the main board. Remember, the hole in the mantel is slightly bigger than the soundbar, so the bottom of the device will be obstructed by the mantel if it isn’t elevated.
6. Drill Magnet Holes
Magnets will allow you to create a removable cutout that will give you direct access to the soundbar once it’s hidden on your fireplace mantel.
So instead of using nails for the job, we’ll attach magnets to both the cut out (main board) and the support pieces (prepared in the second part of step 4).
Attach magnets on both sides of the cutout as well as on either piece of wood, and place the pieces inside the mantel (on opposite sides). When you place the cutout on top, these wooden pieces will attach to it, thereby ensuring you have a removable seal giving you quick access to your soundbar.
So how do we insert the magnets?
- Using a pencil, mark out the designated areas to place your magnets on the cut out (mainboard) and the support pieces.
- Mark three spots on the extreme left and right of the cut out board, and three spots on the two support pieces.
- Use a ruler to ensure you mark out the exact spots on both surfaces, so you’re aware of where the magnets will meet afterward.
- Select a drill head with the same diameter as the magnet holes and drill through the points marked on each board. The holes should ideally be as thick as the magnets.
Remember to remove the wooden dust that gathers when drilling.
7. Insert Magnets Into the Holes
Once you’re done drilling, pour some glue into each hole to help keep the magnets in place. It’s best to ensure the magnets are on the right side before you fix them in place with glue. You don’t want them repelling each other after a taxing job of installation.
Place the magnets on the holes one by one, and hit them with a hammer to ensure they fit in properly. Using a rubber hammer is ideal as a metal one will tend to attract the magnet and give you a hard time.
Lastly, place the support pieces inside the soundbar space and nail or glue them in place, one on the right side and the other on the left. Ensure the magnets on the support pieces are exposed.
8. Cover the Cut Out Board With Fabric
Once you’ve chosen a fabric that matches or complements your mantel’s appearance, it’s time to place it on the cut out (main board).
Place the fabric on a table and set the main board on top. Using a pair of scissors, carefully cut the fabric around the board. Cut while leaving a little extra on the outside as you’ll be stapling the material onto the board.
When stapling the fabric, ensure you stretch it out to avoid the formation of creases. Repeat this process all around the board, ensuring the material hugs the board tightly. The folds around the corners can get extra thick, and you may have to trim them further.
9. Test the Main Board
Place the mainboard on the soundbar space to determine if it fits well. Ideally, the magnets on the mainboard should immediately attach to those on the support boards. Turn on the soundbar to check the audio quality and see if you can control the device via remote.
10. Insert the Soundbar
You can now insert your soundbar inside the designated area. Ensure the soundbar sits on top of the scrap pieces wood so that the main board on the mantel doesn’t get in the way. You can even tilt the soundbar a little to direct sound to the audience.
Fix the required wiring for the soundbar to turn it on, and ensure it’s working properly before you take the next step.
11. Insert the Cut Out Board
Once you’re done preparing the area and you’ve placed the soundbar inside, the last step is to cover the space using the cut out you’ve worked on. Take the main board and place it on the opening of your soundbar area so that the magnets attach to the support pieces.
If you’re able to add a frame on top of the board you can better disguise your soundbar as an inbuilt speaker.
What Not to Forget When Hiding a Soundbar
- The cut-out should be large enough to place the soundbar. Your initial cut-out should be large enough so you can easily slip the soundbar inside. It’s best to pay extra attention and do it properly the first time so you won’t have the hassle of redoing it later.
- The cut-out board should have spaces large enough to allow sound to pass through. Your cutout board needs to be designed in a way that most of the obstruction is removed. Small spaces in your cut out board will ruin the audio experience.
- Ensure the fabric isn’t too thick. There’s no point installing a soundbar and still having a below-average audio experience. Thick fabrics will prevent sound from passing through, so it’s best to get material that allows sound to travel without adversely affecting its quality.
Hiding a soundbar on a fireplace mantel can be a cumbersome job and you’ll need to set aside several hours to work on the project. It’s best to take stock of this and block off a few hours on the weekends when you’ve got more free time.
Before you start making cuts, it’s crucial to take measurements to enhance accuracy and precision. Take your time determining the size of your cuts and remember to use thin fabric that compliments your fireplace mantel.
Finally, while installing a frame on the cut out (mainboard) isn’t mandatory, consider doing so as it can help you achieve a neat, aesthetically-appealing final look.