How to Make a Bar for a Rec Room

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Even if mixing cocktails and pulling pints of brew is not your style, a bar is a handy thing to include in any recreational room design. Bars can do double-duty as laptop computer workstations, homework desks, craft centers or as a cozy place to have a snack while watching television. Building a custom bar can save money, often provides the most service and will fit into your decorating scheme better.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Graph paper
  • Level
  • Power saw
  • Power drill/driver
  • Hardware and fasteners
  • 2x2 or 2x4 lumber
  • 3/4" plywood or MDF
  • Trims
  • Counter top material
  • Paint or stain
  • Steel pipe and hardware
  • Optional: 1 1/2" diameter wood dowel
  • Optional: Bannister hardware
  • Design the overall bar layout. Plan for at least 24" of open access behind the bar. Leave at least one end of the bar open for access; two access points are better.

  • Determine the height of the bar. A standard bar stands 42" inches from the floor, according to the experts at AllBarStools.com. This is the best measurement for use with most bar stools. Allow no less than 12" clearance between the underside of the overhanging bar top and the seat of any bar stool.

  • Establish the width of the top of the bar. A 28" width or depth is standard, about the depth of a modern desk.

  • Plan for any interior shelves. Taper the shelves so they will be narrower than the bar top.

  • Build a frame. Use high-quality 2x4 or 2x2 lumber. Build a rectangular frame for the top of the bar, remembering to allow for at least 12 inches of bar top overhang beyond the frame. For example, if your bar top will be 32" deep, build a frame only 20" wide.

  • Install legs on the frame. Cut 2x4s to the correct height. Account for the thickness of the bar top material and deduct this from the height of the frame legs. Use a minimum of six legs for a standard 8 foot long bar. Add more legs to stabilize longer bars. Mount the legs inside the frame, flush with the top edge of the frame.

  • Cross brace with 2x4s. Mount crossbraces outside the frame on the legs. Install cross braces horizontally and flush with the edge of the top frame and edge of the leg. Use at least two sets of cross braces, placing one set just a few inches above the floor.

  • Cut any interior shelves. Use ¾" furniture grade plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) to fit inside the frame using the cross braces as supports. This will be a rectangle shape with corners notched out.

  • Cover the frame with the finish product of your choice, either ¾" furniture grade plywood, MDF, drywall or tile board. Attach the fascias to the outside edge of the framing and cross braces. Counter sink and cover any screw heads or nails.

  • Create or install the bar top. Overhang the top 12" towards the finished side of the bar. Use wood screws and angle irons to attach the top to the frame.

  • Install a footrest. Make a footrest out of steel pipes with T-connectors and pipe flanges as hangars or wooden dowels using special banister hardware. Locate the footrest approximately 9" from the floor.

  • Finish your bar to suit. Add trims as desired, especially around any unfinished edges. Apply waterproof paint or stain.

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