It was the end of their new home building project on a bluff high above Lake Michigan and Terri and Michael Lindvall’s Lennox wood-burning fireplace was tiled. All that was needed now was a mantel. One problem: the Lindvall’s budget was shot.

Michael looked out at a pile of logs from a dead birch tree and said, why not? The project foreman on the job quartered the largest log and fastened it to the wall studs with three big cast-iron lag bolts. The smaller logs that flank the fireplace are fastened to the underside of the mantel and are all coated with spar varnish.

Patty LaNoue Stearns is a regular contributor to Northern Home and

Note: This article was originally published in November 2007 and was updated for the web February 2008.