How to build a bar

Introduction: Building a Basic Home Bar

How to build a bar

Following a few step by step instructions, I will teach you how to build a basic home bar that will satisfy your needs. Having a bar in a basement or other living space is vital for get togethers, whether they are with friends or family. Use it as a place to dine, watch the ballgame, place cards, or enjoy your favorite adult beverage. Very basic woodworking skills are needed but don’t be terrified if you have no prior knowledge. Get a friend or a relative that knows a little about woodworking and this will be a great project to start with. When all is said and done this project will cost you around $100.

Here are a few tips to make this project safe and enjoyable:

Don’t be intimidated by the magnitude of the project

Take each step slowly and concisely in order to achieve greater accuracy


Step 1: Tools & Materials Needed

The following tools are needed to complete the job. I included the tools and materials I used for further clarification. If you don’t have these basic tools, you do not need to go out and purchase them. Go to a neighbor or a relative and try to borrow these tools before purchasing!

Screw gun (impact driver)- 18 V Milwaukee 1/4″ Impact Driver

Screws- 3 inch outdoor screws (make sure you have the same bit)

Finish nails- small 1 inch finish nails

2 foot level- Stanley Fat Max 2 foot level

Table Saw- Craftsman

Compound Miter Saw- Craftsman

25′ tape measure and a pencil

Lumber: Please note that the following measurements may be larger or smaller depending on the size of space you are dealing with.

2X4- I used six (6) 16′ 2X4s.

MDF Board- I used a 4’X8′ sheet of this material.

Another 4′ X 8′ wood material- This is the piece that is nailed into the front of the bar. I used the thin piece of camouflage material to add some fun decoration to the bar.

Step 2: Layout the Groundwork

Decide where you want to put your bar and how you want if orientated in the room. Measure off of the wall how far you want the bar to come out. For me, I came 7 feet off of the wall and decided that was good enough. You will need to cut two pieces to length (USE MITER SAW FOR THIS CUT, GET HELP IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE CUTTING). So for my example I would cut two (2) 2X4’s at 7 feet. This will give me what is called the bottom and the top plates.

In the picture the bottom and top plates are what you are cutting now. Don’t worry about the picture being upright at this point. We will deal with that in the next step.

Step 3: Erecting the Framework

Now that you have two identical 2X4s cut, you are ready to layout where your “studs” need to go. You will want to mark both the bottom and the top plate the exact same. Make a mark with your pencil on both plates every sixteen inches. Square the lines across the 2X4.

Now you will need to decide how tall you want your bar to be. For me, I chose 4 feet tall. Doing some basic math 48″- 3″ (for the top and bottom plates) – 3/4 ” ( thickness of MDF board) = 44-1/4″ Add Tip Ask Question Comment Download

Step 4: Securing the Framework

You will now need to stand up your frame. Make sure that it is “square” off the wall and that this is the correct dimension you want to work with (your preference). Once your frame is square (makes a 90 degree angle with the wall) you can fasten it to the wall by screwing through the end stud into the wall (make sure to use your level to ensure the frame is plumb).

NOTE: I made my bar run the length of the room so I did not need to fasten my bar to the floor. If you choose to make your bar not run all the way, you will want to fasten the bottom plate to the floor using nails or concrete tapcons. Do a simple google or search to learn how to fasten a plate to the floor.

At this point your bar should look like the following picture.

Step 5: Constructing Support Structures

In order to add some support, as well as a spot for a shelf behind the bar we will create two or three block structures. See the picture below for extra help. Determine at what height you will want your self to be. For my bar I chose 26″. Not unlike the first step in this design make three (3) pairs of 10” 2X4s (these will act as top and bottom plates for the structure.

Doing some basic math for the “studs”. I want the shelf to be at 26” therefore, 26″ – 3″ (top and bottom plates) = 23″ Add Tip Ask Question Comment Download

Step 6: Inserting Stabilizers for the Bartop

The next step in creating this bar is to add stabilizers to the top plate to ensure stability in the bar. By adding several 2X4s to the top of the bar you will create a spot to fasten the MDF board to. Cut enough pieces that you can have one stabilizer (one board) over each stud on the main framework. You will want to cut this piece as long as you want the bar top to be. For me we cut ten inches for the portion of the bartop hanging over the front and 8 inches for the bartop hanging over the back.

Doing some basic math. 10″ hanging over the front + 3-1/2″ (for the top plate) + 8″ hanging over the back = 21-1/2″ Add Tip Ask Question Comment Download

Step 7: Install the Bartop

This is the step where all the work comes together to look like a real bar! You will need to make cuts using your table saw with this one (MAKE SURE TO GET ASSISTANCE IF YOU NEED HELP USING A TABLE SAW). You will need to make your dimensions the size of your top and bottom plates for length and the size of your stabilizers you just cut for width. To hold this board in its proper place screw from underneath the stabilizers up through the MDF board.

Step 8: Install the Trim to the Front

With the 1-1/2 inch trim cut a piece the same length as the MDF board that you just installed. Use finish nails to fasten the trim to the MDF board flush with the top of it. The picture below will put some visual with the text.

Step 9: Install the Material to the Front Face

With the type of material you chose (I chose a thin camouflage paneling) measure the dimensions you need to cover the entire front face of the framework. This will be a measurement you must make because everyones will be slightly different. When the piece is cut (using the table saw) fasten the board to each stud with the finish nails.

Step 10: Job Well Done

Hopefully your bar turned out well! If it did not, go back and reread a step or make the adjustments you need. Hopefully this was just a guide to making the bar for you. Everyone will have different things they want to play around with, but this is a good start and good foundation for a good looking, structurally sound bar.

Now it is your job to look up instructables on bar stools and other barroom accessories!

I hope this was a pleasing project to make and you learned something about woodworking. Now go out and enjoy the time with family and friends on the newest addition to your abode!!

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This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Eric McClure. Eric McClure is an editing fellow at wikiHow where he has been editing, researching, and creating content since 2019. A former educator and poet, his work has appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, Shot Glass Journal, Prairie Margins, and The Rusty Nail. His digital chapbook, The Internet, was also published in TL;DR Magazine. He was the winner of the Paul Carroll award for outstanding achievement in creative writing in 2014, and he was a featured reader at the Poetry Foundation’s Open Door Reading Series in 2015. Eric holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an MEd in secondary education from DePaul University.

There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 16,104 times.

Nothing brings a garden party or barbeque to life like a beautiful outdoor bar. To build a wooden outdoor bar, choose a pressure-treated hardwood that will stand up to spills, bad weather, and extreme temperatures. Order more lumber than you need to ensure that you have replacement wood if you mess up a cut or measure a dimension incorrectly. This is not an amateur DIY project since it relies heavily on a power saw to make a variety of cuts, so you should only attempt to build an outdoor bar if you’ve worked with wood and power tools before. Expect to spend 2-5 days building you bar based on how much effort you put in each day and how quickly you cut your lumber to size.

How to build a bar

Many of us have cluttered or underutilized space in our garage or backyard. But sometimes those spaces can be turned into a relaxing retreat for friends and family. As the 2015 summer interns at Simpson Strong-Tie, we designed a DIY bar to make unused space a pleasant place to relax. The home bar is common in many kitchens or outdoor areas; however, this DIY bar opens a door for personalization.

Whether you’re looking to create a DIY cocktail lounge in the garage, a full-scale tropical bar by the pool or a simple bar for family barbecues and cocktail parties, your experiences will be better knowing that you’re enjoying them at your personal, hand-built bar.

As part of our engineering internship, we designed this project, calculated the required materials, drafted a cut sheet, and built it from scratch. Our plans are included here, but the great part about this bar is that it can be customized to fit your space.

DIY Home Bar Materials List:

2×4 x 96″ (8FT) – 10 NEEDED
4×4 x 96″ (8FT) – 4 NEEDED

4’x8′-1⁄2″ – 2 NEEDED
4’x8′-3⁄4″ – 2 NEEDED

A21 – 24 NEEDED
A23 – 16 NEEDED

#8 x 11⁄4″ Strong-Drive Screws (SD8x1.25) 6 Boxes
#10 x 2″ Deck-Drive DSV Wood Screw – Red (DSVR2R1LB) 1 Box

We designed the frame to allow for maximum use of the space by including a two-level bar top, two massive shelves spanning the length of the bar and a cutout for a mini-fridge (or a sink if you decide to take on the plumbing challenge). Thanks to Simpson Strong-Tie connectors, this DIY bar design uses minimal wood and provides maximum load-bearing strength. This frame can be slightly modified if desired and provides a fun, challenging project for the intermediate/advanced builder. As you’ll see, this bar is sturdy and durable!

How to build a bar

To further stabilize your bar, you may decide to anchor it into the concrete or surface you’re working on. If you build this bar on your deck, simple wood screws will do the trick. However, if you’re anchoring this bar into concrete, you’ll want to use concrete screws.

How to build a bar

Once the frame is complete, this project can get as creative as you like, since there are many ways you can personalize the finished bar.

How to build a bar

Thick cuts of genuine wood for the bar top can be expensive, so we have a few suggestions to bypass this. You can use 1″-thick hardwood ply and add an overhang to give the illusion of a thicker piece of wood — or glue multiple sheets of plywood together to create an even thicker bar top. If you choose to use wood for the bar top, you may decide to stain it and add varnish, to paint it, or simply to leave a sanded wood finish that will let the lumber show its color over time.

How to build a bar

You may decide not to use wood at all for the countertop and instead try a Plexiglas ® (plexiglass) bar top or even stainless steel – the possibilities are endless! Paneling brings up another creative decision, as you can either use simple thin plywood spanning the entire frame or use individual planks. In our build, we used thin plywood.

How to build a bar

To help you get started, we’ve listed various ideas and modifications you can make to personalize your DIY bar, along with pictures to inspire you no matter what you choose. So have fun, allow your creative juices to flow, and make your dream bar exactly how you want it!

How to build a bar

This blog post was written by college interns in our Engineering Department. They were tasked with creating a DIY project that would be sturdy and durable, so they decided to create a DIY bar. Thank you to Carlos McEniry, Grant Groshans, Griffin Hornyak, Jeff Dyer and Sienna Palos for the post.

A bar can be the perfect addition to anyone’s basement. Here’s what you should keep in mind when planning your subterranean entertaining oasis.

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How to build a bar

Photo by Carmen Troesser

A bar can be the perfect addition to anyone’s basement. Here’s what you should keep in mind when planning your subterranean entertaining oasis.

What’s Your Dream Bar Like?

When you get past the daydreaming phase of basement bar construction, start making your dreams a reality by making a plan.

Begin by formulating your bar element wish list. Do you want a place to just refill beers? Or would you like it to be an entertainment center in its own right, with a mounted TV (or TVs!) and dedicated sound system? What are your favorite beverages? What are their storage requirements? You’d need to treat a big wine collection differently than you would a few rotating taps.

Next, consider your basement’s space and note the locations of any existing plumbing and electrical hookups. You’ll save time and money adhering to your home’s infrastructure and not running lots of lines all over.

Once you have a wish list and a location, think of your budget. How much can you spend on this project? What are you willing to do yourself and what will necessitate a professional to take on?

Finally, check with your local planning and building boards to make sure you have the necessary permits to complete the project. Some locales may require licensed electricians or plumbers to perform or sign off on the work.

Key Components for a Basement Bar

Time to sketch out your plans! If you keep things standard in terms of spacing, you’ll be able to easily source materials like stools and under-counter appliances. For design help, consult pre-designed plans from professional sources online or enlist the help of a designer.

Countertop/bar: The standard height and depth of a bar counter is 42” from the floor and 24” deep. Don’t try to go too much wider than 16-20” wide on your bar top (which includes the overhand) or you’ll have trouble passing drinks over.

Stools: Most bar stools are 28 to 32 inches from seat to floor, with dimensions chosen in relation to countertop height.

For comfort, aim to allow 12 inches from the top of the seat to the bottom of the counter. Make sure your plans provide for enough space between the counter’s edge and the back of the stool to allow people to easily get into and out of the seats (around 18 inches). Also provide for 2 to 3 feet of clearance behind the stool back and any wall or other obstruction.

How many do you want to fit at your bar? A minimum 24” (or a more generous 30”) of bar space for each seat is standard.

Foot rail: For resting tired feet, a foot rail about 7-9 inches above the floor adds a professional touch to a basement bar. Alternatively, look for barstools with footrests that are comfortable to use.

Bar molding: To keep drinks from sliding off, or just to rest your elbows, a curved lip at the countertop’s edge can add a practical and attractive touch to your bar design.

Work counter: From prepping garnishes to mixing drinks, a back-work counter makes for a more comfortable bar experience for all. If you’re building a wet bar, this is where your sink would typically be located.

Taps: If you plan an extensive beer tap system, you’ll need room for taps, a drip tray, and your keg lines, with easy access for regular line cleaning (ideally every 2 weeks). Plus, consider a kegerator to keep that keg cold.

Get an Economical Head Start with Pre-Fab Bar Parts

No need to re-invent the wheel here. Kits are readily available, and your local home brew supply shop should be happy to help set you up.

Keg tap kits: Full keg tap kits run about $200-$300 and include every bit of tube and tap you’ll need to get beer from your cooler to your glass. Talk to your home brewing experts whether you want to buy a kit or buy parts separately.

Kegerators and Refrigerators: Kegorators (a mash-up of the word “keg” and “refrigerator”) can be bought ready-to-go or made from converting a small fridge. For cooling beverages besides beer, plan for a second refrigerator—and for ice at a the ready, consider a freezer with ice maker.

Beer: This is the most important ingredient for a basement bar. Kegs of beer come in several sizes. For a home bar, a 5-gallon keg is plenty. There is no universal keg tap system, however, different breweries in different countries use distinct setups. Always check with your keg provider to ensure you have the right equipment to tap your keg at home.

Pre-Fab Bar: If you’re inclined to go the ready-made route, home bars are available for purchase online and in large home improvement stores. They’ll run anywhere from $300 to $3,000 (and up), depending on how big and grand you want to get.

Materials and Tools You’ll Need

Your bar building plan will dictate the materials you’ll need. Bars are typically framed in wood and are often finished in a finer grade wood or veneer, and sometimes stained or painted.

For countertop materials besides wood, consider stone, granite, metal, or just about anything you can repurpose into a flat bar top. Want an industrial vibe? Try galvanized metal for the sides of your bar. Money no object? Get some brass rails for your footrest or bar molding.

I would like to thank HomeRight for sponsoring this How To Build A Bar Out Of A Dresser post. All opinions are my own.

Curbside Makeover ALERT.

Curbside finds are some of my favorite makeovers. I always get asked how I find them and where I find them and the answer is “by chance” and “everywhere”. I have scored some amazing pieces from the curb including this farmhouse table makeover , the entertainment center I made from a curbside dresser and my last find that I turned into a patriotic planter . This time around, I picked up a dresser that was missing one drawer. I picked it up because the hardware was so great. I was planning on just scrapping the dresser and keeping the hardware for another project.

Then, this happened.

How to build a bar from an old dresser!

How to build a bar

After we took the drawers out and I had all the hardware off of them, I had this shell left over.

Nothing exciting. Nothing worth saving, right?

How to build a bar

I started thinking we could make it into a bar.

Matt and I talked it over and it was going to be fairly easy to do.

The first thing we did was make the holder that the glasses would hang from. We had some old, white cabinet doors in the garage that we used for the shelves (the arrow is pointing to the cabinet doors). Then, we cut and screwed scrap wood to the underside of the shelf that this cabinet door was going to be.

How to build a bar

We made the glass holders on the top shelf so we still had storage above it and below it. We removed one of the trim pieces between two shelves so we had hanging room for the glasses and room for wine bottles on the shelf underneath.

How to build a bar

To make sure the wine glasses, martini glasses and margarita glasses would stay in the holders, Matt added a thinner board underneath the thicker boards. The bottom of each glass will rest on this board.

How to build a bar

This is how the dresser looked after we had all the shelves in and the holders done.

How to build a bar

(Affiliate links are used in this post so you can easily find the items I used in this makeover. You can see my full disclosure here.)

I got out the HomeRight Spray Shelter for this project.

How to build a bar

The shelter and the HomeRight Finish Max Fine Finish Sprayer make painting projects go so much faster. I have painted so many pieces like this by hand and to get it all the corners and nooks and crannies is hard. The Finish Sprayer makes it easy and the Shelter keeps our grass and plants their natural green color. 😉

How to build a bar

I chose the color “Ash” from Fusion Mineral Paint for this bar. It is a rich color that really brought this bar to life.

How to build a bar

What is a bar without some ice storage? We made a simple box from reclaimed wood just like we did with the Repurposed Dresser Bookshelf. I added some handles to the side and some numbers to the front.

(I need to write a post on how easy it is to make a box out of wood. We have made so many for so many different projects and I think they have been the best part to some of our projects. I am always amazed what stores charge for simple wood boxes because I know how easy they are to make. And….. you can make them exactly how you want them. Stay tuned for that post.)

How to build a bar

I went to the Dollar Tree and got an aluminum pan to fit inside the box. Now this box is ready to hold ice and keep drinks cold.

How to build a bar

How to build a bar

You can’t even tell this was a hideous, blue dresser from the curb!

Who knew it had so much potential? 😉

I hope this post about how to build a bar from a dresser has inspired you to shop the curbsides more often. 🙂

How to build a bar

How to build a bar

Would you have rescued this dresser? What would you have done with it?