Introduction: Do-It-Yourself Oak Bar Build

About: My name is Lance. I absolutely love tinkering and making things. There is something absolutely satisfying when making something from nothing.

This all started for me as a joke to my wife. We purchased our home about six months ago and in the back of the house is a open room which has the wood stove. I figured a bar would be awesome.

I started this design in my head and with some small sketches on a piece of paper and many hours of visualizing and planning.

The tools and skills needed for this isn't much honestly. If you can use a hammer, drill, level, router and a saw your good to go!

The hardest part is going to be getting your angles correct for the 45 degree corner but if you doing a different design it will vary.

I kept this instructable somewhat vague as far as my dimensions so you can see HOW I actually did it. Giving dimensions is OK but every bar is different.

Good luck and enjoy! Shoot me a comment if you have a question and I can add pictures or explain.

Summary of materials:

- 3/4" Oak Veneer Plywood from Lowes.
- Solid oak boards for trim from Lowes.
- Oak Veneer Banding from Lowes.
- Standard wood glue
- Natural Bristle brush (3)
- Tack Cloth
- Minwax Satin Spar Varnish
- 2x3's
- 3M Sandblaster Pro Sandpaper
- Nails
- Screws (drywall is OK)

Summary of Tools:

- Hammer
- Nail Set
- Circular Saw
- Table Saw
- 4 Foot Level
- Screwdriver
- Drill
- Sander
- Square
- Router (can use a Japanese saw but would be hard to round the oak trim)
- Measuring Tape

Keep in mind this bar is built for my back room but don't let this stop you! Take your measurments and build a cut list and use the things I go over to build your dream bar!

Step 1: Plan

The first thing I did was start planning out the design and layout of the bar. 


I started with laying out chalk lines/tape lines on the floor where I wanted the footprint. Then I transferred those measurements to paper.

Keep in mind this is the footprint I wanted the bar to be MAX. Subtract the measurements from these outer dimensions.

Once I was satified with the dimensions I used AUTODESK Inventor (because I am a student and could use it free) there are many other options to use such as Google SketchUp and the trusted paper and pencil!

I choose to tackle the learning curve of using a program so I could visualize the project and get approval from my wife not to mention add and subtract things as I was building.

My plan was to use 2x3 pine lumber to make a sturdy skeleton on which I would lay my oak veneer plywood on. After a ton of research I found this to be the best for the tools I had on hand.

Step 2: Building the Skeleton/Frame

For building my frame I layed the 2x3's down on the ground with the outside edge facing down. (outside edge = edge with the oak plywood)

I then nailed it together as if it was a wall securing the top plate and bottom plate to the studs. (Reference the wall photo for help)

Now it may be hard to see, but I had to make the corner studs cut lengthwise at 22.5 degrees. This 22.5 is critical to get the overall 45 degrees. (45/2=22.5) needed.

My walls are 41" top plate to bottom plate.

Once the three walls are built stand them up and screw them together on the corners. We don't have to worry about the stability of the corners to much because they will be kept from swinging once the tops are installed.

Next I built the vertical lower counter supports with 2x3's and they are 36" high by 15.5" wide but you can customize those dimensions too. I then nailed the supports to the wall studs.

At this point I would secure your bar either to the floor or in my case the adjoining wall. (I decided against using the floor due to being on a slab)

Step 3: Adding the Oak Plywood

Next you are going to install the oak plywood.

Remember the edges that come together in the inside edges need the 22.5 degree cut in to make the 45 degrees.

One thing to keep in mind is the direction of the grain!

Once you have cut your plywood mount it by pre-drilling the screw holes, then use a countersink bit to sink the screws below the surface. We will fill these holes later.

I cut mine a 1/4" large on the top edge and used a straight bit on my router to cut the plywood even with the top plate. You could use a Japanese saw by hand to do it too.

Step 4: Adding the Trim

For the vertical trim I used 3.5"x3/4" solid oak and the horiziontal trim I used 5.5"x3/4" solid oak.

I measured and cut the horizontal trim first accounting for the 22.5 degree corners and the extra 3/4" for the right edge.

The vertical trim has the 22.5 degrees cut lengthwise where they meet. 


I cut the vertical pieces slightly longl then used a flush bit router to cut even with the top plate.

I nailed the trim in with 2" finishing nails and used a nail set to push them in below the surface.

Step 5: Fitting and Cutting the Bar/Counter Top

Cutting the bar/counter tops was the hardest part so focus and think about every step to avoid extra cost.

Now just as before you will need the 22.5 angle for the corners as well. I left the side boards long to help account for screw ups.

For this step I would work from left to right. (left being towards my glass door in the picture)

Do this for BOTH the bar top and the Counter top. I would also suggest using cardboard for angles and sizing opposed to the costly wood.

Remember check for grain orientation. 

This picture was taken during initial fitting of the top.

**DO NOT Screw the top down yet**

Step 6: Add the Decorative Corbels to the Vertical Trim

Next add the decorative corbel to the vertical trim. The corbel looks like the picture and has a keyhole mount. This is all wood so BE CAREFUL! I busted one and had to epoxy it back together.

Measure down from the top to the center of the keyhole (point A to B in photo). 

The top of the corbel is to be flush with the top plate of the wall.

I pre-drilled a hole for the screw then slid the corbel on. I had to adjust the screw depth so it would be tight against the vertical trim.

I didn't use the supplied screws as they were weak and broke going in, so just use a standard screw.

Step 7: Mount the Bar/Counter Tops

Place your tops back on and clamp them. I started with the bar top and then the counter top.

Place wood glue on the top plate and the top of the corbels and then screw up from the bottom of the top plate. 


I can't stress enough that you may need to use some shims to keep the screws from poking through the bar top. (See how I shimmed mine)

For the countertop I shot the screws at an angle into the top.

Step 8: Edge Banding

For the bar top outside edging I used finish nails and 3/4" x 3/4" solid oak which I further rounded with a router bit.

This was really easy to do but I screwed up by making it flush because when I sanded it I sanded through the plywood's thin veneer!

TIP: Nail it so there is a bit of the solid oak  HIGHER than the oak plywood.

Just like everything else remember the 22.5 angle at the corners.

Set the nails just like the other trim and we will fill these later.

For the plywood oak veneer edge banding on the backside use a iron on plywood veneer. It is easy to use and looks great. Be sure to follow the directions of the package.

Step 9: Backsplash

For the small wall or back splash I just used some of the oak plywood and remember the 22.5 angles!!!

Screw it in just like the front plywood using a pilot hole and a countersink.

Remember the vertical solid oak trim you cut 22.5 degrees out of? Well I found a use for them! Use these scraps to hide the gap between the back splash and the counter top.

TIP: Glue the strip down to keep it from pulling out. 

Step 10: Add Electrical (Optional)

I added some electrical to my bar and gave it a extension cord style connection that I can plug into an existing outlet on the wall.

The first outlet which the cord is connected to is GFI protected and the others are tied into this one. 

The bar sees lots of liquids so better to be safe then sorry.

Cut the access holes for the electrical boxes in the back splash (optional) but I really needed them for the kegerator I will add to the bar later. 

Step 11: Filling the Holes

After all cutting and screwing is done its on to the finish work.

Remember all the screws and nail holes? Time to fill them.

I used a wood filling putty and my finger to fill all the holes. You can get fancy here and try to color match but I personally wished to let them show through. Also note the putty will soak more finish then the wood itself.

Be sure to overfill the holes so you can sand them flush on the next step.

Step 12: Sanding

You can ruin a project really fast by using the wrong sandpaper and taking too much off. The plywood is finish grade (already sanded smooth) but just to be sure I ran over it lightly with 320 grit sandpaper.

TIP: Always sand with the grain never against it

Tip: If using a power sander try to not press to hard in one area and try not to stay in one area to long

Tip: Don't skimp on the sandpaper!!! I used 3M Sandblaster Pro sandpaper.

The steps I took to sand my bar were as follows:

 - Sand the solid oak edge down flush with the bar top with 120 grit paper
 - Sand the solid oak trim with 120 grit
 - Sand the solid oak edge/trim with 220 grit
 - Sand all surfaces with 320 grit.

At this point re-inspect with good lighting. I ran my hand lightly over all surfaces to ensure it was smooth.

Step 13: Finishing

Time for the finish..... relax your almost done!

Alright we could have many different conversations about the type of finishes and since I am by no means a pro in this department I will encourage you to do your research. 

There are many types of finishes as I have said but I chose to have a finish that is easy to apply, can be fixed easily, and keeps the natural beauty of all the oak. So I chose a spar varnish for its properties.

Now when you apply the varnish I suggest you vacuum and clean the entire area. Then clean it again! 

Then follow the directions of whatever finish you choose but for this I had to re-coat after six hours so I planned my time frame around that. 

TIP: Use a tack cloth over the entire surface prior to applying the finish.

Apply the first coat using a quality brush.

TIP: Don't apply too heavy because you will get runs!

Alllow to dry then sand with 320 to knock down any high spots, then vacuum and tack cloth it.

Repeat as many times as you feel is required or necessary.

TIP: Have great lighting

Step 14: Tweak It Then Sit Back and Enjoy!

I added lights above the bar and purchased stools and my bar height is perfect.

Lessons learned:

  - Measure three times cut once
  - Use the right tool
  - Think about ever step you take
  - Don't be afraid to ask questions
  - Use a template on the angles
  - I know its hard to see but make sure to account for overhang. I would have to say my bar top is a bit short and could have used an extra three inches or so

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