Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

How To Build Your Own Home Bar


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.

I used 2×6’s to build the frame. The frame is 41” tall by 50″ wide by 73″ long, with the little end wall at the far end only 12″.

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.

The bar after the oak veneer plywood is added. I used 1 1/2 ” wood screws to attach the veneer to the frame and I only put screws at the bottom, top, and corners where it would be covered up by the oak trim pieces, so they wouldn’t show.

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.

Then add trim pieces. I used finish nails and Elmer’s wood glue to attach the trim pieces to the veneer. Pre drill your trim pieces first with the same size drill bit as your nail so you don’t split your oak trim when hammering the nail. Counter sink your nails with a nail set and then use stainable wood putty to fill your holes.

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.

Build your shelves and then add your trim, I forgot to take pictures of the shelves before I stained them. The shelves are 12″deep.

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.

This is one of the two corbels I added to the bar to give it more interest and detail. You can also see in this picture how I attached the bar rail by using wood screws and screwing from under the overhang. My overhang is only 9 inches, I wouldn’t go less then that and not over 12″

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.

attach back bar by screwing it into wall studs so when you put the bar mirror up it will hide screws.

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 cap.

The two-part epoxy gives your bar a glass look and protects your top from spills. My bar top is 82″ long by 18″ wide

This is the other end of the bar top so you can see how it was finished off.

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. 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.

Name your bar after getting it done.

To get your own personalized bar sign for go here.

Some hard apple cider and blueberry wine I have made

That’s all the pictures of my bar and man cave, down below are pictures of bars others have built using my bar design and have sent me pictures of their builds.

This great little bar was built by Jake, one of my readers

This is how Jake did his shelving, this is exactly how I did mine.

I love Jakes idea of putting lights under his bar top.



This is a picture of a bar one of my readers, Adam Urbach built after reading my post. Nice job Adam

This nice bar was built by one of my readers Cy Kollar

Cy did a good job on the shelves

This bar was done by Matt Hines who likes to brew is own home brew.

Matt built a place for his keggerator into his shelves.

I really like what Matt did for the back bar. I am just waiting now for my invite to try some of the home brew.

This great little bar comes from Aberdeenshire Scotland and was built by David Batty

David used 2×2’s to frame his bar with veneer plywood over that. This works out great, its the plywood that gives the frame its strength.

Here’s what David had to say about his project.
“I made mine with oak veneer MDF to save on cost, I got the solid oak corbels on eBay for a song. I couldn’t get the bar rail locally in Scotland so I used solid oak
 molding made by my local joiner. The detail is solid oak skirting
 board. And the resin top turned out fantastic – that was a great idea, thanks. I have really enjoyed doing it.
 The wine rack and sofa and extras are all made from reclaimed wooden pallets that I got for free. It was officially opened New Year’s Eve… Magic!”

Here’s the best part, this was all done in this man shed in David’s backyard. What a great idea.

These next four bar pictures are from Frank Chenette. I like his better than my own. Great job Frank

This bar comes from all the way from England and was built by Michael Grady. I like how this bar fits in real well with the brick work.


In all my wildest dreams, I didn’t think this post would help this many people build their own bar. Keep the pictures coming in, I love how tis post keeps growing.

This is the finished bar and this is what Mike had to say about his project. “Your inspiration started it all , the whole project has brought me allot of pleasure, and the things learned have opened up a bigger world in woodworking for me. I think it’s really a great thing you have accomplished touching so many by helping folks create their own special place. Good show old boy, as we say here.”

This great looking bar was built by Denise and her hubby Gene. I like the look and corbels on this one, nice job on the back bar too.


This nice bar was built by Dwayne Jones. I like what he did here using total different materials than what I did on my bar and I love it. Like I said in the post this is just a guide and you can add your own materials and ideas.


Here is another great looking bar from one of my readers Mark Dunlap. Great job Mark.


This all pine bar was built by Chris Smith a West Virginia State Police Officer for 21 years. It only cost him 350.00 dollars to build and shows you don’t have to spend alot to build a great looking bar. Thanks for sharing this bar with us Chris.

This great looking bar was built by Todd Kreykes I really like what he has done here. This is a amazing looking bar.

I have to get back to you on the name of the person who has done this bar. My computer crashed and I now have a new computer and have to some how retrieve that information from my email on the old computer. I have now got his name and it is : Brock Miera

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.