Introduction: Backyard Tiki Bar

About: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Since then I've done work for Martha…

There's nothing like a tropical theme to properly set the tone for summer fun. So my co-worker Jonathan Odom and I set about to design a quick and easy-to-build backyard tiki bar that will be guaranteed to bring the Hawaiian party to any outdoor gathering. (Brainstorming session inspiration courtesy of Mike's Hard Lemonade!)

Step 1: Supply List

We wanted to make something that wouldn't require many tools, so that anyone could make it regardless of their home shop status.

NOTE: We used a chop saw to make all of our cuts, but you could also use a hack saw or have your hardware store make the cuts for you. (This will be more expensive as hardware stores charge per cut, but it's an option if you don't have access to tools or don't want to use up all your elbow grease using a hand saw.)

The Supply List

(x1) 1" x 18" x 48" pine board
(x1) 1" x 12" x 48" pine board
(x1) 6' H x 16' L Reed Fencing
(x2) 2" x 7' bamboo pole
(x2) 2" x 6 1/2' bamboo pole
(x6) 1" x 5' bamboo pole
(x2) 1" x 4' bamboo pole
(x4) 1" x 44" PVC pipe
(x8) 1" x 18" PVC pipe
(x4) 1" x 14" PVC pipe
(x4) 1" x 1 1/4" PVC pipe
(x8) 1" ID PVC Tee joints
(x4) 1" ID PVC Corner joints
(x1) 50 pack of 14" white zip ties
(x8) 1" one holed pipe bracket
(x8) 3/4" stainless steel washers
(x8) 5/8" stainless wood screws
(x6) 3' L grass hula skirts (available at most party supply stores)

Cordless drill
tape measure
masking tape

Step 2: Cutting Your Reed Roll to Length

The reed roll will be used as both the front panelling of the bar and the roof lining. Once cut, you will end up with two sections: the longer one will be the bar panelling and the shorter one will be the liner.

The reed roll can be a bit unruly, so to ensure an even cut, lay the roll down on the ground and push one end up against a wall or any hard vertical surface. This will act like a fence on a bandsaw.

Measure 40 3/4" out from the wall and mark it with a piece of masking tape.

Find the edge of the roll and line it up with the marking tape.

Carefully cut along the entire length of the roll, being sure to keep it pushed up against the wall as you go.

Step 3: Get to Building!

Move all your parts and pieces out to where you want the bar to end up. In our case, it was our friend's backyard.

Start by putting two of the corner joints onto opposite ends of one of the 44" pieces. Press one of the 14" pieces into each of the corner joints, as pictured. Connect two more corner joints to another 44" piece and then connect that to the other end of the two 14" pieces, making a rectangle.

Step 4: Going Up!

Press four of the 18" PVC pieces into the remaining holes of the corner joints on your rectangle to create your first vertical pieces.

Step 5: Mind the Gap

Add Tee joints to both ends of two 14" PVC pieces and connect them to the uprights on either end of the rectangle.

Step 6: Connecting the Connectors

Take the 4 short 1" PVC pipe pieces and put them in each open hole of the Tee joints. The will be used to connect to the next level of Tee joints.

Step 7: Stabilize!

Take the last four Tee joints and press them onto the ends of the remaining 44" PVC pieces.

Then connect these lengthwise to the short pieces you just inserted, pressing them firmly into place.

Step 8: The Next Level

Now take the last four 18" pieces and press them into the open holes of the Tee joints.

Voila! You've built the 'bones' of the bar.

Step 9: Join Together

Place the 18" x 48" pine board on the ground and move the frame on top of it, lining it up so the edges of the PVC pipes are flush with the wood top.

Take your U brackets and place them just inside the corners on the ends so that the arm with the hole is laying flush on the underside of the wood countertop.

Starting in one corner, place a washer on the bracket hole and screw the bracket to the wood. Repeat for the remaining three corners.

Step 10: Attaching the Shelf

Flip the frame over so it's standing on it's new legs.

Take the 12" x 48" shelf and place it on the cross supports that are mid way up the legs.

Attach the remaining four brackets to the underside corners of the shelf just like you did in the last step with the countertop. The only difference this time is that you will be working with the piece right side up so you'll have to hold the bracket in place underneath with one hand while you screw it in with the other. (as demonstrated by Jonathan above)

Step 11: Put Your Face On

Using the longer of the two reed fence sections, stand it up and attach the edge to one of the back corners of the bar frame using zip ties, one on the top, middle, and bottom. (= 3 per corner)

NOTE: Put the zip ties in from the front so that the cut end is hidden in the back.

Unroll the reed roll, attaching with zip ties on the remaining three vertical corners as you go.


Step 12: Two Faced

Once you've finished putting zip ties on the opposite back corner, roll the remaining reed back on itself, creating a double layer of reed. This will create a more substantial, less see through, front for the bar.

There's no need to attach the second layer with more zip ties until you get back to corner you started at, where you will cut the remainder of the roll off.

Use utility scissors to cut off the rest of the reed roll.

Step 13: Support Beams

Use zip ties to secure the bamboo pole uprights to the corners. The two shorter ones go in the front, the longer ones in the back.

Step 14: Roof Ties

Take one (preferably two) zip ties and place them against the tops of the poles, so that the top halves of the zip ties are sticking up into the air. Use another zip tie to secure them in place by cinching them to the pole. These are what you will use to attach the roof to the uprights.

Step 15: Building the Roof

Use a measuring tape to measure the widest distance between the bamboo uprights (that are already attached to the bar frame). Place the two 4' vertical thin pieces that same distance apart from each other on the ground.

Then lay the six 5' pieces on top of the two 4' pieces horizontally and evenly spaced apart.

Use zip ties (two per intersection) and secure the horizontal pieces to the vertical ones where they cross each other. (like pictured)

Trim off all the zip tie tails.

Step 16: Laying the Roof Liner

Unroll the remaining section of the reed roll and, lining it up with the edges of the bamboo poles, secure it in place with zip ties.

Using utility scissors, cut the roll at the edge of the horizontal bamboo pieces.

Unroll another layer of reed roll and secure it in place. (This layer will overlap the first one.)

Trim off the rest of the reed roll and the zip tie tails.

Step 17: Hula Time!

Lay down overlapping layers of the the hula skirts to create a thatch roof look.

NOTE: I wanted a bit of straw to hang over the front edge of the roof, so when I laid down my first and front layer of skirts, I let them stick out past the front horizontal pole by 6-8".

Secure them all in place with zip ties.

Step 18: Raise the Roof!

Lift up your roof onto it's front edge and check to make sure all the skirts are thoroughly attached before attempting to loft it in the air.

Once you're done checking (and fixing if necessary) lift the roof up, front edge lined up with the front edge of the bar, and place it on top of the bamboo uprights.

One person hold it in place while the other secures the roof to the uprights using the pre-placed zip ties.

Step 19: Party Time!

And that's it! Now all you need are some snacks, drinks, and friends to get this tropical paradise party started.

Have fun!!

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