In this post I am going to show you step by step how to build your own home bar and show you the tricks the pro’s use in building bars for night clubs and restaurants. I will also show you mine that I finished last year. Now some of you are going to ask how is this farm related and my answer to that it is not. But… if you live way out in the country there aren’t many bars or night clubs to go to so I plan to build one at home so we can have friends and family over and I will not have to drive those country roads at night after drinking where there are lots of critters that like to dash out in front of you. My wife and I have a date night every Friday night and we like to go to bars that serve food with our cocktails and we love to get some hot wings or some other bar type grub. We are going to miss that when we live in the country, so I am going to create a pub at our home similar to the bar I built here at our current home. When I did a post about Plan Your Farm one of the steps was to be a DIY kinda person or have a willingness to learn to be and this is a perfect example of that. Living out in the country there aren’t dozens of tradesmen like in the city to help you, so it is best you learn to do these things yourself and most of all it isn’t that hard. It’s all part of the philosophy of being self-reliant and there is nothing like the feeling of a job well done and the satisfaction of doing it yourself. The first step is to plan where your bar is going to be and what shape you want it to be. I went on-line and looked at hundreds of home-built bars to help me decided. I decided to build a dry bar (without a sink) and to make it L shaped.
The first thing is you have to frame it. I used 2×6’s to frame it out but I think it would be just as good if you used just 2×4’s. The final height of your bar needs to be between 41 to 43 inches tall to fit most bar stools. I built these walls 41 inches tall.
I used oak veneer plywood on the front but you could use pine veneer or a metal diamond plate or even corrugated metal. It all depends on your budget and the look you want to go with.
I then added the oak trim pieces, I used a 1×8 on the bottom and 1×4’s to trim it out the rest of the way. The trim gives it detail and depth and hides the seams where the plywood comes together. Pretty simple so far, the next step is to build your bar top, this is where it gets a little more complicated. To give your bar that professional bar look I would go with a Chicago Bar Rail to rest your elbows on when at the bar. It cost about 12 dollars a foot but to me it is worth it. If you decide to build your bar top using a Chicago bar rail this requires two pieces of 3/4” plywood one on top of each other. I bought regular standard sheet for the bottom and another oak veneer sheet for the top.As you can see from the illustration from above how your bar rail sits on the bar top. Your bottom sheet has to be 1” 9/16” wider then your top sheet where you are going to have your Chicago bar rail. I made sure I cut the bottom sheet so I would have 10 inches of overhang on the bar where people will sit and your bar stools will be. This gives you enough room so your knees don’t hit the front of the bar when you sit on the stool and straddle up to the bar. If you use a foot rail you might go with more of an overhang. You screw the bottom sheet from the top on to the frame. Then you rip your top sheet remembering where the bar rail will have to be 1” 9/16” less then what you cut your bottom sheet. You then screw the top sheet onto the bottom sheet by screwing under the bottom sheet. Use 1 1/4 wood screws so your screws don’t come through the top of the bar. Now you can add your bar rail to your top. You have two options here, you can go with a rounded corners or you can go with mitered corners, or you can do what I did and do one of each. I would suggest you go with mitered corners, because the rounded corner is 125.00 each and is also a more difficult to cut your top to fit on the rounded corner. For a video showing how to cut a mitered corner on the Chicago bar rail (Click Here) Mitering the bar rail is easy, just use a 2×4 and set your bar rail onto the 2×4 where the bar rail sits on the bottom sheet of your bar top. You don’t need a biscuit joiner like in the video, just make sure your screws are long enough to go into the bar rail and short enough so they don’t come through the top of your bar rail.
Next step is to finish off the inside walls of your bar. You can do this with drywall or if you have enough left over pieces of veneer plywood you can do what I did here. I also trimmed out the edge of the bar top using 1” 1/2” pine molding. I put on the pine molding so it stuck up 1/8” higher then the bar top. This act as a dam when you apply the two-part epoxy to finish the bar top. You will apply this after you have stained your bar (I will show you later in this post). I then attached the corbels to the bar by drilling and then inserting two 1/4” wooden dowel pins into the corbels and the lining them up on underneath the bar top where I wanted them to go, marking where the pins line up and using a 1/4 bit and drilled the two holes where I had it marked. I then added some Elmer wood glue to the pins on back of each corbel and then added them to the bar.
I then built my back bar by using another oak veneer piece of plywood with oak 1×4’s on each side of that with and then an oak 1×6 for the bottom shelf where your liquor will sit and then an oak 1×8 on top. I then added some crown molding to finish it off on top and some pine trim to go around the bottom shelf.
The next step is to sand and stain your bar. I sanded the entire structure using a medium grit sand paper. I then wiped it down using a damp cloth, the damp cloth raises the grain. You do this because the stain will raise the grain in the wood and this step keeps that from happening. I then sanded the entire bar down again this time using a fine grit sand paper. I then stained the entire bar and back bar. Now your ready for your two-part epoxy finish on the bar top. This is what the pro’s use to protect the bar top from spills. First you must make sure your bar top is clean and dry. For a bar the size of mine, I mixed up about a quart with the two equal parts together. They must be of exact equal parts or it will not harden. I then stirred it slowly so to not create bubbles in the epoxy but stirred it very well before pouring it out over the entire top of bar. Then spread it all over with a plastic scraper or use an old credit card like I did. The epoxy is self leveling. This epoxy just goes on the flat part of the top, you will use polyurethane for the Chicago bar rail and the trim and the rest of the bar. One quart was enough to cover my entire bar top. I then let that dry completely and roughed it up with some sand paper and then put down another quart. You could also put down baseball cards or pictures or other memorabilia on your bar top before you pour out the epoxy to have them embedded in the top to give it more of a personalized touch and could show your hobbies or interest. If you do that you will have to add a second layer, and you do that by letting the first application dry completely, then sand the area using a medium grit sand paper and then do another pour. You can keep doing this step if you want to embed something thicker like bottle caps. Here is a video showing how to apply the two-part epoxy.
After your bar top has dried is when you brush on your polyurethane to the Chicago bar rail and the rest of the bar. After the first coat dries, sand it down using 0000# steel wool and then put on another coat. That’s it, now that you have a little knowledge on how to build a bar you can build your own. It does take some time to do it right but it is worth it. For more ideas for bar tops and to order your two-part epoxy go to DIY Bar Top Epoxy. All the parts for this bar was purchased at my local Home Depot except the Chicago bar rail. I bought the bar stools at an auction where the restaurant was going out of business, they matched perfectly with the stain and style of bar I chose to build. The rest of the bar signs, lights and mirrors I had been collecting for several years. I have also added photos of the rest of my bar down below. I found it easier to build the bar then to write how to build it. If anyone has any questions on how to build a bar you can ask them here on this post, no matter how old this post is. I will be happy to answer them if I can.
To get your own personalized bar sign for go here.
This post has now gotten too big to add new photos, please click Here to see more pictures of bars that people have built using my plans.