Introduction: Easy Behind the Couch Bar Top for Movie Night

Picture of Easy Behind the Couch Bar Top for Movie Night

After installing a projector in my basement we had a lot of fun having friends and family over. Problem was the couch only held four people so it got very crowded. We had a lot of wasted space behind the couch that I wanted to utilize but didn't want to spend to much and it needed to be strong. Also if it was to "Man Cave" like my better half would not have allowed it.

So here are my plans for a cheap, simple, and strong behind the couch bar/counter top.

Step 1: The Wasted Space

Picture of The Wasted Space

As you can see there is a lot of space behind the couch perfect for a bar top. I also noticed the opening under the couch was roughly the thickness of two stacked 2x4's this gave me the idea that I could use the couches weight to add strength and stability to our bar.

I used a few stools we already had and some scrap wood to plan out the dimensions and give a real idea how much space we will need.

Step 2: Leg Design and Testing

Picture of Leg Design and Testing

I found a way to make a solid cheap leg design that would slide under the rear of the couch. I tested these two different designs with scrap wood. The strongest one was the one with two built in supports. That short 9 inch 45 degree brace adds a great amount of strength and stability.

Now its time to shop and build!

Step 3: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

So what will it take to build this project? Most of these items you will already have in your shop or garage. Below is the list of materials and prices but this is just a starting point get as wild and crazy as you would like!

Wood Glue - $3 (Every home should have a good bottle of wood glue)

Wood Screws (1-2 inches) - $5 (This will get you plenty of the screws you need for this and other projects)

8 Cedar 2x4's - $45 (You could use much cheaper 2x4's if you would like I just dig cedar)

2x8 ft 3/4 inch oak play wood - $8 (You can usually get this as a scrap but I bought a new slim sheet for cheap)

Wood Stain $6 (any color stain you would like or make your own)


Compound Miter Saw (Length and angle cuts)

Long wood clamps (These are a luxury)

Power Drill

Rag (Staining)

Step 4: Leg Assembly

Picture of Leg Assembly

After taking measurements for you own specific set up. Drill glue, screw, and clamp the lengths of the legs for extra stability. After the lengths are together take your angels for your interior braces. Again these sizes will differ greatly but one suggestion is to use your interior 2x4's in the "Beam" orientation for increased strength.

"Beam" orientation means turning your 2x4 to be vertical so the longer measurements is going up and down. As seen in picture two. The leg lengths are in "Plank" orientation and the supports are in "Beam"

Step 5: Top Assembly

Picture of Top Assembly

Top assembly is very simple. Cut your 2x4's to the desired lengths with the desired angles. I added a 45 degree on the end for looks but this is a choice.

Once you have the lengths cuts pre-drill all the 2x4s where you would like them to line up with your ply wood. I have my ply wood slightly inset lower then the top of the 2x4's to create a lip. Again this is a choice. I also raised the back 2x4 higher than the other so things can not slide off onto the people in front on the couch.

Once everything is drilled, line up one of the 2x4's and the ply wood side up and glue, clamp, and screw it together. Repeat this process on all four sides and the top is done.

Note: the top is only 5 pieces there are no under supports or bracing. The top is extremely strong and stable in this design no need for extra material and work.

Step 6: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Now finish the design how ever you would like. I choose a walnut stain to match existing stools I had.

Note: I am awful at staining!

Step 7: Basement Aassembly

Picture of Basement Aassembly

Because of my stair case I had to move the top and legs into the basement separately and assemble down below.

The top of the legs are the same size as underneath the bar top so they fit snugly between the 2x4 frame. I also choose not to glue the legs in and simply screw them in from underneath so I can take them off if needed later to move.

Note: Make sure screws are shorter than the thickness of the 2x4 and ply wood combined so they don't pop out the bar top when you are putting it together.

Step 8: You Are Done!

Picture of You Are Done!

After you legs are attached have someone help you flip it over slide the back part of the legs under the rear of the couch and you have a strong, solid, and stable bar top for you and your friends to enjoy.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


TimR196 made it! (author)2018-01-14

Thanks for the design! I needed some additional height for the chairs so I added a couple more boards at the base. Worked out great.

dustin_little (author)TimR1962018-01-15

I dig it! thanks for sharing.

vlg517 (author)2017-10-04

Hi! I don't know if you are looking at these comments or not - I hope so. This is exactly what I want to build in my basement - so first, thank you for the plans and detailed instructions. My questions is about placement of the finished project. I see you have yours on tile and some of the others appear to be on wood??? I have carpeting with pretty thick pad in my basement. I have not started this but want to in the next weeks but want to make any necessary adjustments to use this on that carpeted space. Any thoughts? Having this tip when in use would be a bummer!! Thanks in advance!

dustin_little (author)vlg5172017-10-06

What I would suggest is making a few spacers that go between the back of the legs and the underside of your sofa. you can make the leg thickness not enough on purpose and with a few 1/4 inch cuts of wood and slide them into place to get a nice tight fit because the carpet will have more give then tile or wood. Hope that helps. upload picks when you're done!

JoeP67 (author)2017-03-12

Thanks for idea for the legs. I originally wanted to go with pipe but cost for fittings was well above what I wanted to spend. I used two 2x6 for top. So to hide the top of legs I used a 1x4 and cut a 45 degree angle to hide from seeing it. I still need to cut 2x6 down to size and also add foot rest. Ill post my pics when I completly finish it....

dustin_little (author)JoeP672017-03-14

Looks great! The top was a good choice. I look forward to seeing it all set up.

Admiral_Capn made it! (author)2017-02-03

I am in the final stages of this design. I used 2x4s for the table top, trimming the edges to square. I also used a 2x6 for the back apron/bumper so that the bottom of that piece would match the bottom of the side aprons. I want a high-build finish on the table top so I have 5 coats of poly on it so far (5th one is drying in the photo) and hope to get 1 or 2 more before Sunday evening. It has to be ready for service for the Superbowl!

Admiral_Capn made it! (author)Admiral_Capn2017-02-06

Here's the final install - just in time for the game!

Hey that looks great! Make sure to share it when you have it all set up. Never had someone make something of mine before thanks. It will work great. cheers

UTstatsgirl (author)2016-11-28

Thanks so much for the instructions. This is exactly what I need to finished my Texas-themed basement. I haven't done any wood working before, but this doesn't look too terribly difficult (famous last words, I know). I see that you use cedar 2x4s around the plywood for the table top. How do you round the edges of the table top? Are you just free sanding or is there a tool (maybe a router) that you use to do that?

Thanks for the comment. it's a pretty easy build I'm no professional. I did round over the edges using a quarter inch round over router bit but you could sand as well. Good luck please post pictures of your project! Cheers

vV Ajax Vv (author)2015-04-02

I'm in the middle of making this now. The only difference is that I'm actually gluing up a top using 2x4's to keep the 2x4 look consistent. I ripped the 1/4" rounds off so the edges are square. Although, it's been tricky because the 2x4's have began to bow a little. I don't have much time to work on projects sometimes, so in this case the wood has just been sitting there. I'm just about ready to glue up the top, and should be able to in the next couple of days. I plan on actually using a couple lengths of threaded rod with nuts and washers on the ends "through" the edges to act as internal, permanent clamps. The edges will be capped so so won't be able to see the threaded rods. Unfortunately, I do not have a thickness planer. *sigh. But I do have a belt sander a power planer to help out

I'll share some more as I progress. No pictures at the moment.

dustin_little (author)vV Ajax Vv2015-05-23

Hey how did the project come along? Got any updates and pics?

vV Ajax Vv (author)dustin_little2015-06-01

Unfortunately, not at the moment. I did get the top glued up and milled by hand to remedy the bowing. I used a combination of a power planer, jack plane (yay handtools!) and belt sander. Took off roughly 1/2" in thickness. It's been sitting on my workbench for the past few weeks now. I only have time on the weekends to work on things like this, but I've had to put in overtime on the weekend at work lately because of the demands of a customer (not actually getting paid for it either because I'm salaried...).

I hope to make some more progress in the coming weeks. I will try to remember to at least take a picture of the top sitting and waiting.

vV Ajax Vv (author)vV Ajax Vv2015-06-01

And I guess that technically counts as an update. Haha.

dustin_little (author)2015-03-19

The bar top its self is not that deep only 18 1/2 inches. That is flush with the front of the legs so nothing sticks out past 18 1/2. Hope that helps.

spencer.garver.3 (author)2015-03-18

I was thinking of doing this behind my couch as well. Sadly I dont have as much room as you do but was curious what are the dimmensions of the top itself? Just curious because I want to see how small depth wise I can get away with without it feeling pointless

fro.fro.1964 made it! (author)2015-01-07

I love your leg design. I ended up using it for a desk I built. I've still got to stain mine but I had to share and thank you for the inspiration.

That is great! I want to see it when its all done. Thanks for the post that made my night I'm glad I could help. Good luck with the rest of your project.

Buso (author)2014-12-31

Great project! Great design and crystal clear instructable. I plan to use this design for a stand-up desk/workbench.

I am concerned regarding the strength of using short screws to fasten the legs to a plywood top. Also, when the legs are removed and reattached there is another chance for an error in screw length. The knock-down provision is important, but it might be a lot stronger to glue cleats under the top and then screw the legs to them.

dustin_little (author)Buso2014-12-31

Cleats are a great idea! I think if I was using it more for work like yourself a solid cleat design would make the legs stronger and easier to replace. For now mine has no wiggle to it and is very strong but I could see myself having to move the legs if I want to reattach them because of screw holes. Thanks for the comments!

b1tbang3r (author)2014-12-07

Wow, great idea! Beautiful job!

dustin_little (author)b1tbang3r2014-12-07

Thanks! Couldn't really find what I needed on here so I figured I would give it a shot.

Leningrad_Cowboy (author)2014-12-07

can you build a bar or pub like shuffle board into it as well?

Anything could be added to it. Shuffle bored would be easy just raise the lips on the 2x4s all the way around while building and bingo you're set! Thanks for the ideas.

Wired_Mist (author)2014-12-07

Quite a nice, compact, solution for some extra guests ! (Aka the Rowdy section Eh?)

Grats on your First Instructable ! Turned out Really Nice; Hope to see more :D

dustin_little (author)Wired_Mist2014-12-07

Thanks for the comment! I have enjoyed the site for a while now and figured I need to stop mooching and start contributing.

We call the bar top "The Nose Bleed Section" for all those die hard fans.

tomatoskins (author)2014-12-05

Great Job!! This would look great in my college apartment! It would also cut way down on the crumbs in the couches. Double win!

It works great for parties and get-togethers. We throw the food up there stand and eat and drink. Great for game night. Thanks for the post!

peppypickle (author)2014-12-05

great idea! smart for a breakfast bar too!

That's a good idea. Thanks for the post.

zymurgeneticist (author)2014-12-05

Looks great. Nice simple build that's space efficient and doubles your capacity on movie night. Good job!

Thanks a lot! I'm not a wood worker by an means but it was a simple design I sketched out and has work great on movie night. Closest thing I will get to stadium seating. Thanks for the comment!

LunaEros (author)2014-12-05

Wow! Very cool! I'm going to save this instructable so I can build my own when I get the extra cash.

When I was growing up we had a counter top/cupboard/kitchen table that was built into the kitchen and stuck out from the wall. It was a table height and had cabinet storage on one side and the back side stuck out like a table you could sit at.

I used to love to sit at it for everything. Eating, reading, working on projects, studying, watching tv (I could see the tv in the next room), etc etc.

It's the one thing I really miss from that house.

Thanks for posting this!

dustin_little (author)LunaEros2014-12-05

I'm glad you like it! Didn't cost much at all its nothing fancy but very useful. Thanks for the comments.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to build with my hands, I haven't figured out how to do it with my feet. I am not a professional anything ... More »
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