I love cooking and hanging with friends. I especially love grilling. So I finally decided to design and build an outdoor counter top for all my grilling prep work (someone makes me chop my onions outside)...oh...and I added a bar top as well. Best thing, since I used fence pickets we are talking less than $100. It can be made even cheaper if you use standard painted outdoor screws and don't seal it. Without a sealer cedar will gray naturally and cedar is naturally weather resistant, but I wanted mine to maintain the original color of the wood. Hopefully the sealer I chose will last.

So if you have a free day and need an outdoor prep work / gathering area read on.

As you can see from the pictures and sketches I wanted this bar to be open and appear like a split-rail fence from the front. Mainly I chose this approach to give spiders fewer hiding places. Using less wood has caused one problem. If you are standing on the bar side and pull on the bar top it will tip forward since the base doesn't weigh as much as most bars. I have come up with a few options to remedy this; weight of some sort on the bottom shelf or kickers between the legs and the ground beneath the bar top. Hopefully by the end of this "ible" I will have figured out a solution.

If you chose to take on this project remember you can make it your own. For instance you may rather completely enclose the fronts and sides with paneling, beadboard, or cover with bamboo. Make it your own. If you have an idea but not sure how to apply it let me know and I'll try to help.

Forewarning: I try to explain my instructables so anyone can build them... hopefully. But in doing so I can get long winded. If you are an experienced woodworker you can probably follow the cut list and sketches without the detailed explanations. On the other hand if anyone sees a detail I left out or if you have a question just comment or message me and I'll be glad to help.

DISCLAIMER: Due to a recent comment this instructable recieved I figured I would address it here. This is an outdoor project. Wood exposed to the elements can cup or curl or twist. However, cedar is one of the more resilient woods to resist these effects. But as my new bar weathers if anything needs redesigning or fixing I will address it here in this instructable with updates

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Tools for the job:

1) Saw (a miter saw is helpful but any saw can work... a jigsaw is good for rounding exposed corners)

2) Drill (check out my kitchen island "ible" to learn what the numbers on a variable drill are for)

3) Counter sink bit

4) Air compressor and brad nailer (this is optional but EXTREMELY helpful in holding pieces together so you can go back and finish with screws without anything shifting)

5) Framing square

6) Sand paper and/or power sander (I like the random orbit sander)

7) Small clamps


(18) 6 ft ..5/8" x 5 1/2" cedar fence pickets (cedar is untreated, safe, and resists rot and decay naturally). The biggest caveat of all fence pickets is they are rough cut lumber. You have to make sure every piece you pick out is straight and true and close to the same thickness and width as the last piece you added to your cart. You may need to spend some time picking out these 18 pieces, but they are roughly a third the cost of their finished, exact dimension siblings you will find inside the store. Plus I think their rough character works great for certain projects...like this one. You will actually need only 16 of them but its good to have spares to choose from in case something doesn't line up correctly.

(4) 1 x 2 x 8ft cedar boards

(2 and a half) boxes of 75 count 1 1/4" exterior screws. I used bronze coated ones with serrated threads and a star bit head. They help prevent splitting but I still pre-drill most holes

Sealer if you choose to seal your project

<p>Gotta have one! I have a dual purpose idea for mine, once built. 1) A Bar, of course, but a walk up bar vs stand behind. I'd put the tall flat side against a wall of my pergola, solving the tipping problem. 2) for those days/weekends that we have to ourselves, a potting bench for the wife. All in all, Love it! </p>
This is a fantastic project. I'd like to make one of these now. I smiled when I read your warning. Deciding how much detail to provide in explaining a woodworking project is a challenge. I thought you handled that very well.
Thanks J. Its always hard to know how much to explain. Some knowledge we take for granted and think is common. But most of the time it is a direct reflection of lessons learned growing up. I grew up with a handy dad and granddad so so I was lucky. The reason I like doing these instructables is to share that knowledge with others.
You are very right about taking knowledge for granted. Knowledge is such a valuable thing, especially sharing it. There are many times that I've had to search up the smallest thing to figure out, and it seemed as every blog, DIY site, website, etc. took it upon themselves to decide that it should have been a &quot;already be known&quot; fact. When I write anything, I always try to be detailed as you were. I was lucky as a woman, to grow up in a mechanic shop, along with my dad and grandpa always building and making things. As a mother of 2, and a homeschool (middle school) mom to one of my children, my son, I try to teach them to be handy for their own self. As my daughter is closing in on the &quot;fun&quot; age of being 16,she understands the importance of knowing basic mechanical skills, being handy in building skills, and not scared of getting her hands dirty. My son, was all about gaming, everyday, all day! My husband and I placed that to an end, quick! We started teaching him many different skills, trades, and using technology in a different fashion. Needless to say, he's now my right hand man when it's time to build anything, sell something, or draft it up. <br>Thanks for the instructable, absolutely love it. It's going to go amazing with a firepit cooker that I'm building. Have a great week.
<p>I believe you are going to have trouble with this. Cupping and curling will be one problem, and racking another.</p><p>You need more than one screw per end to prevent cupping. For the narrower boards, two fasteners will do, while the wider ones need three.</p><p>To prevent racking you need either wide, solid panels, or cross bracing, in both directions.</p>
While I agree outdoor wood can warp cedar is one of the better woods for resisting this. Also as long as it isn't severe it will just add to the rustic look. Currently as built with the rails instead of cross braces it does not rack. I agree this was my biggest concern when designing and my backup plan was to replace the center rail with 2 rails in the shape of an X. Actually the best solution for racking and my tippy problem would be to install full panels of some sort (plywood etc) on the front and sides but in order to keep its openness and all cedar build these are two compromises I made. I guess you could fill the front and sides with the rails touching each other from top to bottom. If it starts racking as it weathers I will simply install L brackets in the corners between the legs and the bottom of the counter and between the legs and the top of the bottom shelf. The only place I used one screw was in the counter top boards; however, there are 2 brads in each location at the edges of the picket where you find that one screw in the center. If it were to begin to cup I will simply add more screws. If an outdoor project had to stay perfect as built we would just have to stop building them out of wood. Thanks for your comment hopefully it will help someone building this to not make the same mistakes I did.
<p>This is great, I have a cedar deck, and this will look amazing, thanks for posting. Now I have a weekend project (that will no doubt last for the next few weekends :)</p>

About This Instructable




More by mejones:Cedar Fence Picket Outdoor Bar / Countertop Basic Woodburning Grilled Cabbage 
Add instructable to: