How to Build Patio Bars

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There’s nothing that says summer hospitality better than a patio bar stocked full of cold drinks and snacks. You could buy a patio bar, paying a premium for the quality. Or, you could make your own out of solid wood that is not only sturdy, but portable. This is not, however, a woodworking job for a beginner and it requires a table saw.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 4-by-8 sheets of T1-11 exterior grade plywood
  • 5 2-by-8 solid pine boards, 1-1/2 inches thick
  • Table saw
  • Wood clamps
  • Nail gun
  • Wood glue, exterior grade and waterproof
  • Paint brush with short bristles
  • Bar clamps
  • 4 2-by-6 pine boards, 1 inch thick
  • Paint scraper
  • Belt sander
  • Random orbital sander
  • 100-grit sandpaper disc
  • Circular saw
  • 2 piano hinges or 6 “L” brackets
  • Drill with screwdriver bits
  • 2 5-foot pieces of thin scrap wood, 1 inch wide
  • 4 1-foot pieces of thin scrap wood, 1 inch wide
  • Putty
  • Putty knife
  • Wood stain
  • Sponge brush
  • Exterior varnish
  • Paint brush
  • Set up your table saw for cutting the plywood and cut the first plywood sheet to be 4 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Cut the second sheet to form two 4 feet tall by 2 feet wide panels. These are the exterior sides of the patio bar.

  • Reset your table saw to rip the first pine board into 1-1/2-inch strips. Rip the entire board down into strips.

  • Unplug your table saw and change out the blade to the table’s dado set and clamp the accompanying guides into place. Cut grooves into the ripped pine boards that are the same width as the plywood sheets.

  • Unplug the table saw again and replace with your ripping blade, and cut 45 degree miters into the ends of the pine pieces so that the edges fit together neatly.

  • Position the pine edges onto the plywood. This frame will give the plywood sufficient stability to prevent it from bowing and turning. Nail the strips onto the plywood with your nail gun, positioning nails every 6 inches.

  • Take four of the pine boards and glue the edges together side by side to form a 32 inch by 8 feet top for the patio bar. The simplest way to apply the glue is to spread it using a paint brush.

  • Lay the boards flat onto the bar clamps, line them up and clamp the boards tight so that the glue can dry.

  • Repeat the gluing process with the four 1-inch thick pine boards and clamp those in place, as well. This will be an inside shelf for the patio bar.

  • Scrape away any excess glue that oozed through the cracks with a paint scraper once the boards are dry.

  • Belt sand the tops of the glued pine shelves to remove any ridges or unevenness.

  • Use a random orbital sander with a 100-grit sanding disc to remove any scratches that the belt sander left on the surfaces.

  • Trim off 1 inch from the edges of the shelf surfaces using a circular saw.

  • Assemble the exterior bar pieces by clamping the sides onto the bar and attaching the sides with piano hinges. This allows the structure to be folded and stored when it is not in use. If you would prefer to make the bar permanent, attach three small steel “L” brackets; one on the top and bottom and one in the middle. Screw the brackets or hinges into place by first drilling marked pilot holes, and then screwing in wood screws.

  • Set the new base on the floor and set the top piece into position. Trace the inside of the base onto the top piece’s underside with a pencil. This will guide where you install the attachment pieces. Attach half of the scrap wood pieces to the inside of the marked line, clamp and screw into place. This will hold the top in place when the bar is assembled, but allow the top to be removed when necessary.

  • Attach the other half of the scrap wood pieces to the mid-point of the interior of the bar. This is where the storage shelf will rest. Nail the strips into place.

  • Finish off the bar by filling the nail holes with putty, sanding everything over once more, and staining and finishing the exterior surfaces.

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