Living in a small apartment means having to make a choice: desk or bar? You can have both with the Transforming Bar / Desk!

The design includes a cork-backed wall at the back of the desk that pivots on wooden dowel posts on the sides of the desk. Simply pull the desk away from the wall, fold down the back wall, and it becomes a bar with seating for 3 at stools. A trough at the back of the desk (hidden by the bar top when it's down) has room for 20+ bottles, a shelf for bar wear, and a recessed nook for an ice bucket or cutting board.

Step 1: Design


I'm always looking for ways to live a high-end lifestyle in a small space. Living in the Bay Area, owning a home is out of the question for me, and the best apartment I can afford is 700 Sq. Ft. Watching Mad Men makes me pine for the days of Mid-Century Modernism, when people actually had room for all the awesome furniture they wanted.

I love to entertain friends, and a home bar is a great way to get people over for pre-dinner cocktails. With all the available space in my apartment filled, I needed to replace something essential to be able to fit a bar. Since my furniture selection is already about as minimal as it gets, I needed to combine it with something else- my desk.

I went through a lot of design iterations, but the one I finished with was as simple as possible. I wanted the transformation to happen in one quick movement, and for gravity to keep the bar top in place when it was folded down for bar mode, and folded up for desk mode.

After multiple tries, I found a pivot point on the side of the desk that would allow gravity to keep the bar top in place while making sure the bar was 42" high when in bar mode. This is important because it's the standard height for a bar. If there's one thing I've learned in my years of designing furniture, it's this: DON'T MESS WITH STANDARD DIMENSIONS! The amount of play when it comes to familiar ergonomic relationships (size of a chair, height of a table, etc.) has very little room for play. You've really only got about 1/2" of maximum deviation from the norm if you want your products to be comfortable and usable.

I designed this piece (and almost every other project for the past year) in Fusion 360. It's free indefinitely with a "startup" license, so be sure to install it and play around with the "Odom_Transforming-Bar-Desk.f3d" model I've provided in this step. In Fusion, you can make mechanical assemblies, which made my life A LOT easier for this project. I was able to test out multiple pivoting configurations to be sure my project would work as I'd hoped.


A few details I included in the design are as follows:

  • Nut + bolt pockets for mounting a second monitor
  • A large drawer with storage on each side
  • A shelf for barware
  • A recessed nook for ice bucket or cutting board storage



I really think this is a good design, and in the interest of avoiding any future legal battles over the non-commercial license in this instructable, I've applied for a provisional patent. This protects my design for one year, after which time I can apply for a full patent with 20 year protection.

As always, please remake, remix, and re-think the product for your own personal purposes!

<p>Thanks for the project. I just made one and am using it as a second desk in my small office. It will really help when I need extra space for prints and paper and I don't want to clear off the desk I can just flip the top up for a temporary space. Awesome Idea! As far as connecting the plywood I used 7x50 confirmat screws , these are great for edge connecting plywood when you use the correct drill bit.</p>
<p>Couldn't get past the Wray &amp; Nephew White Rum... Good stuff</p>
<p>Hey, this is great work. Do you think this would also work as a standing desk alternative too?</p>
<p>For sure, I use it for that all the time.</p>
<p>Tuyệt vời. T&ocirc;i rất th&iacute;ch n&oacute;. T&ocirc;i sẽ l&agrave;m thử. Nhưng t&ocirc;i muốn g&oacute;p &yacute;:</p>
<p>Good observation! The weight of the bar top is balanced about 2/3 on the overhanging edge of the table. If you push down hard on the back side as you're showing here, it will tip back, but it takes a lot of force.</p><p>As a safety feature, I added holes on the sides that line up when the table top is down so that you can insert a pin. This makes it impossible to tilt it back. The holes are in the template files if you're planning on making your own.</p>
<p>C&aacute;m ơn rất nhiều &lt;3. T&ocirc;i đ&atilde; thấy c&aacute;i lỗ ấy</p><p>Tiếng anh t&ocirc;i rất k&eacute;m. :) T&ocirc;i vẫn c&ograve;n đang cải thiện n&oacute;. Khi n&agrave;o ho&agrave;n th&agrave;nh t&ocirc;i sẽ gửi ảnh l&ecirc;n :D</p>
<p>I'm sorry, google translate is having a hard time with that last comment.</p>
<p>Thank you so much &lt;3. I saw that hole</p><p>My English is very bad. :) I'm still improving it. When finished I will send photos to: D</p><p>very cool ible, handy desk! the above is what i got from google translate;D</p><p>haha whoops sorry i always do this-comment about 5 months + too late:D</p>
<p>Can't wait to see the finished product!</p>
<p>Very cool design for saving space </p>
<p>Awesome, works perfect and now people is asking me to make one for them.</p>
<p>Wow! I can't believe I missed this 2 months ago. It's really well done. I see you're having the same problem I had with the legs at the front of the desk. I added a screw through the leg piece into the front gusset on the side, that kept that gap from happening. </p><p>Thanks so much for making this and posting it! It's my favorite part of Instructables.</p>
Yes.<br>The issue was that the plywood was warped a bit, and I couldn't chose it.<br>Thanks for sharing it.
can u please make dxf file to cut all of the pieces with cnc router??
<p>Done. Check Step 2 (you may need to clear your cache to see them).</p>
<p>Also, post an IMadeIt when you're done!</p>
<p>hahahahah exuse my ignorance, i allways thought the i made it button was to denunce people if they steel your job or ur article kinnd copy right hhhhh. so it is good to publish that i build it using yors plans ?</p>
<p>Patents allow you to make one for your own use only. You must license in order to commercially produce. </p>
<p>Haha! I can totally see how easy it is to misunderstand that. Yeah, the whole idea is that you make your own project based on mine, then you post the pictures and click the "IMadeIt" button as a way of showing everyone that you made one too. </p>
<p>thanks bro</p><p>it was there the hole time hahahaha or u just uploaded it???</p>
<p>No, before it was just PDFs and a DWG with everything in it. I added the DXFs as separate files because I know not everyone has Autocad. What kind of CNC are you using?</p>
<p>Amazingly cool and cleverly designed! Someone shared this on a Tiny House site: http://tinyhousetalk.com/man-designs-and-builds-clever-diy-transforming-bar-desk/ </p><p>...and I agree with several of the other commenters there: I don't need a bar, but this might work well for a combined sewing desk/cutting table or similar craft/maker space furniture. The bar level is a good height for standing up and cutting out fabric, though a bit narrow. I 'd probably mount a cutting mat (for use with rotary cutters) on the &quot;bar&quot; surface, and maybe even invest in one of those &quot;make any table an ironing board&quot; heat-proof mats to lay on top of it, too, for iron-and-cut with freshly-laundered fabric. Only one concern: I'm not sure if there'd be clearance to leave a sewing machine on the desk surface when the &quot;bar&quot; was deployed. Sewing machines usually stand a bit taller than the average laptop!</p><p>I think a lot of Tiny House denizens will try this, too, as a combination &quot;breakfast bar&quot; and work-desk.</p>
<p>I'm stoked about the Tiny House Talk article! I love that blog. It's been picked up a few other places too: </p><p><a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDkQFjAHahUKEwjimbmyt5DIAhXNMYgKHecpAyo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.boredpanda.com%2Fconvertible-furniture-diy-desk-bar-jonathan-odom%2F&usg=AFQjCNEGCoVeD68bDS5mH1rpWfesxV8RLQ&sig2=Nai1VxDPCqJNfWPmH5doDQ">My Transforming Desk-Bar Lets Me Work Hard And Play ...</a></p><p><a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=13&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CFQQFjAMahUKEwjimbmyt5DIAhXNMYgKHecpAyo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.finelivingadvice.com%2Fwork-and-fun-transforming-bar-desk%2F&usg=AFQjCNFAFzIIjkQX3rlYbz92hRnbPs_JDw&sig2=UAnPIdKdMB3mcpNN0m7lzw">Work and Fun: Transforming Bar Desk - Fine Living Advice</a></p><p><a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CE0QFjALahUKEwjimbmyt5DIAhXNMYgKHecpAyo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsuburbanmen.com%2Fyou-can-build-this-transforming-deskbar-20150917%2F133027&usg=AFQjCNFbMyFYizhQQ38ooaERtTTnqbGXiw&sig2=wwzE3I1Cq_-dsNXOnXQs0g">You Can Build this Transforming Desk/Bar (5 Photos 1 gif)</a></p>
<p>Yeah, I honestly haven't used it as a bar since the photo shoot. It makes a great standing desk when I'm working from home. It's the perfect height for a work table too. If you wanted to make the bar top deeper, you could just make it longer on the back end (the part that's closest to the floor when it's in the sitting desk position). That way you would have some extra space on the table top and it wouldn't affect the stability much. You would definitely need to add some cotter pins to the sides of the desk for that one though- put any pressure on a longer back end and the thing will tip!</p>
<p>great idea! nicely done. </p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>will you be selling these kits? I am a college kid that does not have access to this kind of machinery, but could benefit greatly from this piece of furniture.</p>
<p>I'm sure you could! I'm selling them on my website, take a look: http://roundhead.design/products/convertible-desk</p>
<p>This is the greatest thing I've ever seen.</p>
<p>Wow man, that's a serious compliment! Thank you.</p>
<p>It's a very clever design and is most appropriate for the &quot;man cave&quot;. Awesome work!</p>
<p>That's right!</p>
<p>WOW. great innovative design and a lucid instructables. Thanks for sharing. </p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>you said that The PDF templates provided in this step can be printed at full scale, how to do that i downloaded the pdf files but it is not at full size scale??? am i supossed to use another software to convert these pdf files to full size scale??? please help, i just purchased the pro user because of this project. thanks</p>
<p>Hey Tarek B3,</p><p>There is a difference between the "Download PDF" button that's part of the instructables interface (which you need a pro membership for) and the templates I've attached in "Step 2: Fabrication". The "Template" PDF files in that step are the ones you need if you're going to print them and make this project by hand.</p><p>Hopefully you're already looking at my Digital Fabrication by Hand instructable, because it has very detailed instructions on how to do this.</p><p>The sizes of the templates are 96"X48" (there are two at that size), 56"X36", and 24"X36". These are the actual sizes of the PDF files. You should be able to give these files to any professional print shop and tell them you want them printed at "Full size, no scaling". That part is really important!</p><p>The other thing you need to be sure about before you buy materials is that the material thickness is also VERY IMPORTANT. This project was designed for 3/4" plywood, which actually measures at .73" (18.5mm) for the main parts of the desk, and .5" (13mm) thick plywood for the drawers. Be sure to get an accurate measurement of the wood you're going to cut, because if it's a lot thicker than .73", you're going to have to compensate for that when you cut. In other words, if the material is actually .75" thick, you'll have to cut over the edge of the lines, basically making the piece slightly smaller, in order for everything to fit together.</p><p>I hope this helps-</p>
<p>i just check the pdf files u mentioned in step 2, and THEY ARE NOT AT FULL SIZE SCALE, so please remove that from this reference (full size scaled means u just need to print, and once printed u just have to glue togather the printed pages to form the FULL SIZE OBJECT.) what u realy did is just put the measurements so we can MAKE THE FULL SIZE SCALE BASED IN THESE MESUREMENTS.</p><p>am i right or there is somthing i am not catching???</p><p>thanks</p>
I went t&ocirc; all grafics in the city and there is no printer capable of print in one peice. The biggest one can print the 96 by54 inches in 2 parts. could it work in tow parts the i glue them togather on the plywood surface ??
I went t&ocirc; all grafics in the city and there is no printer capable of print in one peice. The biggest one can print the 96 by54 inches in 2 parts. could it work in tow parts the i glue them togather on the plywood surface ??
<p>Hi TarekB3,</p><p>I think we're having a misunderstand around printing nomenclature. The dimensions of these documents are the numbers listed in the title of each file; 48X96 means the file is 48"X96" or 4'X8' for example.The pages are this size because the layout of the pieces is optimized for the standard plywood sheet size in the US.</p><p>What you're talking about here is "tiling"; taking this 48X96 sheet and tiling it to fit within multiple small sheets you can print on a desktop printer (8.5"X11" in the US).</p><p>I don't advise this method for a number of reasons. </p><p>1. There is a much bigger margin of geometrical error when you're taking single small sheets and matching them up by hand to create your templates. Precision is VERY IMPORTANT in this design.</p><p>2. Tiling means the pages either have to overlap or leave very small gaps between them. This can be very problematic when you're trying to run a jigsaw over the template- the saw fence will catch on the pages, rip them up, cause skipping, etc. With a single large sheet, this process goes much smoother. Believe me, I've done it both ways.</p><p>3. It takes far less time to use a single large sheet in this already time consuming process.</p><p>If you don't have access to a professional print shop (these prints shouldn't cost more than about $10 per sheet in my experience), you can still tile the pages. This URL has instruction on how to print a tiled version of a large format file like the ones I've provided: http://blogs.adobe.com/tcs/2011/01/how-to/print-documents-with-large-page-size-on-regular-printer.html</p>
Now i understood. Thanks
Thanks for answering<br>I am already a pro membros, and i am used to print pdf files, these usualy ar already in full size and u need just to configure the printer T&ocirc; zero edges and just print, i do alot of wood working and i have to print them. These files u said what software do i need t&ocirc; download t&ocirc; be abre t&ocirc; open them and print them. I could do that scaling using the big print software, but it is very time consuming and if u said the file is already full size scale it is just to know how to do it, this is the tip i am needing. <br>Thanks
<p>I love multiplex as building material for furniture. It's sturdy, cheap, and very predictable to work with. </p>
<p>It's also a lot heavier than pine/fir wood and less resistant to humidity. And at least around here more expensive than plain softwood boards.</p><p>I do use plywood myself (I made the desk I'm sitting at right now from plywood), just saying, though.</p>
<p>Ok. I don't know the versions of plywood you can get, but I got 4'x8' marine pywood plates for ~&euro;60.- What should a softwood equivalent cost?</p>
<p>€60 seems high to me for marine grade plywood, but I'm not sure what's common in Europe. A softwood equivalent would cost considerably less, but it would take a lot more time to make, A LOT more time. In order to recreate the design, you would have to edge glue boards to make panels, make splines of clever joints to join the boards, plane down the wood to the right thickness and so on. In my opinion, you're much better off going with plywood.</p>
<p>There's some board made of three softwood layers about 3/16&quot; thick available around here. You can use it the same way you'd use plywood. It's stronger and more dimensionally stable than regular boards, but has the same look, except for the edges. The only bad thing: it's way more expensive than ready-made edge-glued boards.<br><br><a href="http://www.holver.ro/website/var/tmp/image-thumbnails/10000/18761/thumb__contentTextblock/platte_konstruktiv_agrop_3-schicht-natur.png" rel="nofollow">http://www.holver.ro/website/var/tmp/image-thumbna...</a></p><p>ALso, when you work with plain planks instead of engineered materials, you usually do your design so that it takes this into account. Looking at the convertible desk/bar above, I'd trust myself to build it from plain planks with very little overhead, compared to playwood. The only part which requires slightly more work is building the two rotating side panels and their supporting elements. You could easily make those from thinner softwood planks glued on their faces so that the fibers of adjacent planks are perpendicular to each other, and using thicker shafts (some 1/2&quot; screws inside short pieces of brass pipe would do, I think). But I don't know if it would help with looks in this particular case - plywood, with its more uniform surface, showing less of the fibers, seems to me most visually appropriate for this design.</p>
<p>You can get 15 mm plywood for ~ 20 EUR/square meter - not marine grade, though.</p><p>In contrast, you can get low quality, rough pine wood boards for less than 2.5 EUR/square meter - these need a lot of work to be usable for furniture, and you loose maybe half of the material, but they're still advantageous, price wise.</p><p>You can also get edge-glued softwood panels of various sizes (largest I've found is 0.6 X 2.5 meters) for about 17-18 EUR/square meter. These are what I use most. It's the least work with them, they look great, are much lighter than plywood and still strong enough for furniture.</p><p>There are also edge-glued hardwood panels easily accessible, typically oak or beech, at a price similar to that of softwood panels, but those are made of narrow strips (~25 mm wide) glued together, not of massive, broad boards. IMO they don't look that good, are way heavier and I don't expect there to be any difference in durability when used indoors, for a few decades at least. (And I think highly naturally resinous softwood is way more durable outdoors than beech or oak.)</p><p>There are also other stores, targeted more at professionals than at amateurs/hobbyists, which sell various more complex materials - I've used some of those too, to test them, but it doesn't pay off, they're simply too expensive for common use.</p><p>I do use 6 mm or 8 mm plywood (usually beech) for the back of all cases, chests, wardrobes or other similar stuff I build. That one is quite cheap - less than 4 EUR/square meter.</p>

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Bio: I'm a full-time Designer at the Instructables Design Studio (best job ever). My background is in residential architecture, film set design, film animatronics, media ... More »
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