Introduction: 1940s Radio Bar

Picture of 1940s Radio Bar

I will show you how to take an antique 1940s radio and turn it into a personal mini bar. This project was a lot of fun. It did take up many weekends but it was well worth the time and effort.
 

Step 1: Gutting & Cutting

Picture of Gutting & Cutting

First things first, you need to completely gut out the radio. Luckily all of the main electronic parts were already gone, but I still had additional supports to remove. Don't worry about making it weak because you are going to build your own supporting structure.Just leave the bottom supports so you can attach the floor piece. Keep any spare screws and wood just in case you want to use it in the cabinet. I used a few pieces to make the main bar top and a few screws to add that vintage look, modern screws just don't look the same. After gutting the radio you can now accurately measure and draw out plans. Every radio console is going to be a little different so you might have to modify your plans from mine.

The next step is to carefully cut the outer part. Be extremely careful because the outside is veneer. I used a Dremmel to cut everything out. This part will take a lot of planning and a steady hand.

Step 2: Main Frame

Picture of Main Frame

Take accurate measures and cut a piece of plywood to fit on the bottom of the radio. I used 3/4 plywood for my project because it fit flush with the bottom moldings. I then built the main cabinet in which the rest of the pieces such as shelfs and dividers will be built off of, you don't want screws and nails sticking out of the radio itself.

Step 3: Shelfs and Extremities

Picture of Shelfs and Extremities

For this part I took a couple of different size liquor bottles and made measurements for the shelf inside the cabinet as well as the display shelfs on the outer parts of the cabinet.

Another challenging but most needed part is reattaching those pieces you cut off. The side panels and top panel were too thin to use nails or screws to attach any hinges so what I did was cut out small wood blocks and wood glue them wherever the hinges needed to be attached. I was then able to screw the hinges in place, remember you are going to have to readjust the hinges to accommodate the placement of the wood blocks.

For the top bar section I used old pieces from the radio to build the bar top/ bottle display. I also put a chest hinge to keep the top part up.
I didn't have the original dials so I used copper colored handles. You could use the original dials if you have them.

Step 4: Bringing It All Together

Picture of Bringing It All Together

After building the frame and shelfs I used wood glue and wood putty to fill in any gaps, sanded everything and painted the interior. I didn't have the original dial so I cut out some pieces of wood, painted it with black chalkboard paint, and glued them in place. The wood I used was much thinner, I picked it up from the scrap wood pile at Home Depot.


This is my first big project as well as the first project I have ever posted on Instructables. I am working on another project and will hopefully post it soon.

Comments

bethmwl (author)2014-04-04

We've passed a similar radio around the family for some time, never wanting to throw it, but not knowing what else to do. This is a great solution.

vugenti (author)bethmwl2014-04-05

There are gutted radios all over Craigslist, the problem is once they're gutted it usually cost more to restore than its worth. It's also a shame to just throw any antique away, it's a piece of history and art. I came up with this idea because it's functional and keeps the original look. If you do turn your radio into a bar I would love to see another Instructable with a different twist.

BrentGarrison (author)vugenti2015-10-22

I just posted something similar, vugenti - wish I would have seen your instructable first though!

dcastor (author)2014-05-11

As a radio restorer it hurts me to see any radio "gutted" but I know there are many radios that will never be restored. So I hope if anybody does this they will offer up the parts removed to be reused in another radio.

badideasrus (author)2014-04-04

i wanna make a minifridge like this.... this is so cool. but a fridge would be so much harder ><

vugenti (author)badideasrus2014-04-05

I did consider adding a minifridge, but decided I needed the extra storage. That does give me an idea for another project though...

Wow, this is awesome!

Thanks, this was my first big project. I'm actually working on another that I'm going to post, hopefully pretty soon.

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