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.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

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.

bethmwl12 months ago

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)  bethmwl11 months ago
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.
dcastor10 months ago

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.

badideasrus11 months ago

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

vugenti (author)  badideasrus11 months ago
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!

vugenti (author)  Danger is my middle name12 months ago
Thanks, this was my first big project. I'm actually working on another that I'm going to post, hopefully pretty soon.