DIY Wood Bar Rails

A home bar needs a rail.
A home bar needs a rail. (Image: bar image by Jerome Dancette from Fotolia.com)

A wood bar rail is the piece of wood that stretches along the outer edge of the bar top. It is often decorative and shaped with a concave curve. Set at an angle, it is designed to allow patrons to rest their elbows comfortably on the bar top while enjoying their favorite refreshments. It is also a DIY project for those with experience working with wood.

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Materials and Tools

A homemade bar rail is made from a hardwood like maple, oak or ash. Pine is another, less expensive option. The bar rail itself is really a flat, straight board cut to width and shaped to have a "belly" curve which acts like a nook or arm rest. This is achieved by using a router or disc sander. These professional woodworking tools are ideal for the project. Another option is to bevel cut a flat, 3- by 3-inch board on a table saw to create the same type of bar rail for an easier project that is less involved. To cut the corner edge that attaches the rail to the bar top, a table saw is used.

Design

Most wood bar rails have a simple concave side (the patron side) and a corner side, which attaches to the bar. However a few points to keep in mind make the railing more comfortable and sturdy. The corner edge must be a mirror image of the bar top edge. Make careful measurements to ensure that the bar rail rests flush along the top and side edge of the bar top. The cornered edge may ride below than the lip of the bar, as long as there is enough of an edge to hold the rail securely in place.

The concave side should be as smooth in transition as you are able to make. The curve must be consistent throughout the length of the bar rail as well. A final hand sanding, painting and staining completes the project.

Considerations

Consider the most effective way to make a consistent curvature in the wood. Not all solutions are appropriate or effective. For instance, you may free sand the edges of the rail with an orbital sander and 220-grit sandpaper to produce a very smooth surface. However, do not attempt to create a belly curve using a hand-held sander. Only a disc sander or stationary router is ideal for this task. When in doubt, simply make a straight, bevel cut on a table saw. This is the most basic type of bar rail and it is effective and fairly comfortable.

References

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