Introduction: Barn Wood Bar Shelves

I've been working on the bar in our basement for the past 6 months. Initially I started by installing the cabinets and making a counter top at the front of the bar. The next step was to build shelves for storage on the back wall. I needed to pull in elements from the bar counter top which had wood, metal and concrete, so chose to make shelves with red barn wood, rusted barn tin and dark walnut stained side boards. Supplies needed for this project include:

2 (2" x 6" x 10') pine boards

6 (4" x 3') red barn wood pieces cut for shelves

4 (2" x 6") Triple Zinc Inverted Flange Face Mount Joist Hangers

36 (1") screws

12-16 (1.5" or longer) screws and wall anchors

2 (2' x 5') Rusted Barn Tin

8 oz Dark Walnut Stain

Tools Needed:

Drill & Drill Bits

Speed Square

Tin Snips or some other metal cutting tool

Orbital Sander& Sandpaper



Router & Straight Router Bit


Tape Measure


Miter Saw

Foam Brushes

Rag for wiping away stain


Step 1: Routing Shelf Support

Step one is to cut the 2" x 6"x 10' boards in half because these will be secured with brackets and hold the shelves in place. Once cut to the right length, I determined that I would have 3 shelves on each side. The distance between each shelf accounted for the items I was planning to store. I measured the liquor bottles and spaced each shelf to accommodate these bottles.

I then measured where each shelf would sit on the 2x6 board (picture 1 above) and used my speed square to draw the lines for the routing support. It would be helpful to mark your boards so you don't cut them on the wrong side or cut all of them on the same side.

My palm router bit sits 1.5" from the front edge of my router, so I clamped a board on the wood at this distance from the groove I needed to make (picture 2 above). That way I didn't have to free hand the router cut and could just slide across the guide board. Depending on the width of your shelf wood, you may have to make a few trips over the board. The total depth of the grooves for my shelves was 1/2", so I started with my router bit at a depth of 1/4" and made the next pass at 1/2" depth. I had to make 3 shelf grooves on each board, so a total of 12 router grooves. Be sure to test a scrap piece of your shelf to guarantee the width you are cutting will hold the piece securely. In picture 4 above you can see the scrap wood I tested fit snugly into the router groove. I tested each groove after routing.

I recommend working outside if using your router to avoid covering everything in sawdust. Wear safety glasses, dust mask and ear protection if desired. You could avoid using a router and bracket the shelves onto the outer boards instead, but I feel the finished look of this project was vastly impacted by routing the grooves for each shelf. It was time consuming, but worth it. Remember to always start the router before it touches the board, make smooth even shallow cuts and don't stay in one spot too long or you'll burn the wood. I have a very healthy fear of my router and follow the safety rules when using it to prevent injury.

Step 2: Sanding & Side Boards

Sanding the 2 x 6 boards was my next step. I used an orbital sander to sand the outside of the boards on all sides. I then took the multi-tool shown with the triangular sanding head to sand inside the router grooves. I rounded the front edges of the 2 x 6 boards for a softer appearance.

I then applied stain and wiped it away after 5 minutes on the wood with a rag. I continued applying coats until I was satisfied with the finished color.

Step 3: Installing Brackets and 2x6 Shelf Supports

The plan was to install the outside brackets on each side of the room into the wall studs for extra support. I began by marking out the studs where the shelf supports would sit. Next we taped the metal support bracket onto each end of the 2 x 6 so we could hold it against the wall along the stud markings, level it and mark it's placement on the wall. I needed a step ladder during the installation process, had a wrist magnet to hold screws and Heidi helped hold the board in place while keeping it level. I was very grateful for the assistance because the boards being level was essential in order for the shelves to slide/fit properly in the routed grooves.

Another tip is to use clear tape on the back of the metal bracket (will stay on and won't be visible when done), where it can't be seen to keep it the proper size to hold the 2 x 6 snugly. These brackets would be hard to install if not taped to keep them in the proper shape. After taping the bracket we placed it on the wall and secured it into the wall studs. Start with the top bracket, then double check placement of the bottom bracket by putting the 2x6 in it again. Then install the bottom bracket after verifying level. After you've installed the outside top and bottom bracket on the wall, it's time to install the 2 x 6 into the bracket. The outside brackets were almost flush with the wall on one side, so screws could only be installed into the 2x6 on the inside edge of the metal bracket.

Step 4: Adding the Tin

Now it's time to install the tin. I purchased it in a 20' roll (thanks Doug) and cut the section I needed with tin snips to length. I used my long T-square to mark a straight cutting line with a marker. The tin already had holes, so no pre-drilling was needed to screw it into the wall. Be careful with the cut section and wear gloves when installing/handling the tin to prevent injury. I installed the cut edge at the bottom because it was a bit jagged and was easily be hidden behind the bottom shelf.

First place the top corner and side up against your 2x6, level the tin, and screw in the first screw along the edge closest to the 2x6. In the 3rd picture above you can see this first screw went into the tin in the top left corner, along the left side of the tin. Screwing this screw in first allowed for easy leveling of the tin before installing the opposite side top screw. Then work your way down placing a screw every 4-6 inches. The tin is just for looks and won't have any weight beyond it's own placed on it, so I used dry wall screws to hold it in place.

Step 5: Inside 2x6 Install

The opposite (inside) 2x6 shelf support should be installed next. I know that our floor is level in this space, so used the same distance from the floor to the bottom of the first shelf support to set height for the second shelf support from the floor. We set ours for 48 inches from the floor.Our counter top height was 36 inches and we chose to have 1 foot between the counter and bottom of the shelf. You'll install the inside shelf support just as you did the first by installing the top bracket first, checking for level, installing the bottom bracket, and screwing the bracket to the 2x4.

Step 6: Now the Shelves

I purchased old red barn wood from Doug and bought over 10' extra to be sure I had enough good wood for the shelves. I measured each shelf distance individually and cut the pieces to fit. After cutting with the miter saw I brought each shelf piece down and dry fit it into place. After verifying they fit I went and sanded each piece so they were smooth to the touch, but didn't loose all of their color. Once sanded I placed them in their grooves in the 2x6. I then tacked them to the 2x6 with small nails for extra support. This took any wobble out of the shelves and strengthened the shelving unit.

In the third picture above you can see I'm wearing my handy magnet wrist brace. One of the best gifts I've ever received. I won't win any fashion awards when wearing it, but I did save a lot of time and frustration when installing the 2x6 shelf supports.

Step 7: Final Touches

Finally it was ready to be loaded up with bottles and meet it's new purpose in life. What a great way to up-cycle Barn Wood and Tin without breaking the budget. I can't think of anything I would change about this project. If you're thinking of making something like this check Craigslist or Antique stores to find things like the tin or barn wood. I was lucky enough to find Doug's site with all of his supplies on Craigslist and am sure I'll be heading his way again soon in search of supplies my next project.