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A friend of mine wants to buy a cool beer dispenser for his man-cave, and ask me to build a full bar counter to go with it. Since we are two little kids in the body of adults, we obviously started to project it like an indestructible fortress with lights and laser cannons.

But more realistically, we decided to create something super sturdy that would last years and years, with some cool RGB LED lights around the top corner for a nice atmosphere.

He gave me sizes:

  • About 210cm length
  • From 100cm to 120cm MAX height
  • 80cm deep

and sets a budget of 250 - 300€ in material, which is relatively cheap considering the cost of wood here in Italy (much, much higher than the US).

I live in a urban area in center-north Italy, so it was impossibile to recover enough wood of decent quality from scraps, landfills or local factories. We decided to go for shop-new material, and the woods of choice were the ones with the best price-sturdiness ratio available here: fir wood and pine wood.

Some words about Fir Wood and Pine Wood

Fir is a conifer, and it's widely available in Italy. Here is the main choice when it comes to building projects like houses, patios, garden structures, roofs... thanks also to a great compression resistance. Obviously, it doesn't have the quality of hardwoods like mahogany, durmast or oak, but It's quite cheap and very easy to work with.

Pine is also a conifer and similar to Fir in a lot of ways, but it's usually more robust and little bit more expensive. It's a scented wood: when fresh cut, it release a strong and nice smell. Pine wood processed in autoclave is a very common choice for outdoor projects, since it's usually life long lasting against weather, bugs and parasites. Also, autoclave pine is softer and so harder to split with screws and nails.

Step 1: Start With a Good Project

I'm a fan of pen and paper. I usually prefer to make a simple sketch of my projects and then list all the material I'll need.

But this bar counter is significantly bigger than my classic weekend builds, so I decided that this was a good occasion to learn a little bit of Google SketchUp. It really is an awesome software, with a lot of video tutorials to start with, that you can find easily on the sofware website or around the web, in DIY forums and communities. I highly suggest you to spend some time to learn it, the basics are quite simple and it's highly rewarding.

Having a 3D model of your project is useful for many reasons:

  • you can provide a better view to your friend/customer and to yourself
  • you will have a better understanding of the building process while you create the 3D, realizing what you really need in terms of material and skills
  • you will have a 360° view of the final build all the time, useful for listing materials and take measurements (thanks to the Ruler tool of SketchUp)

...and much more. There are also tools (that I still have to learn) that can lay out the entire 3D project in a complete data sheet full of sizes and material lists. Isn't that convenient?

If you like this particular build, you can download my SketchUp file here!

IMPORTANT NOTE: I ALWAYS change my mind a little during construction progress, so the SketchUp progress you see here is NOT the final version of the build. I've changed a lot of details: colors, part of the frame and even the top. This is just an example to see how a good 3D project can help you with a long build.

<p>Love it, especially leaving the a gap at the top of the front &quot;wall&quot; to let the LED light into the top shelf area- brilliant!</p>
<p>Thanks Ron! :D</p>
<p>This looks great Filippo. Very well done, all around! :)</p>
<p>Thanks seamster! :D Glad you like it</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: Hi everybody! I'm Filippo from Bologna, Italy! My friends call me Orso (Bear) :) I follow Instructables since 2009, and it has always been one ... More »
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