Introduction: Portable VIP / Fraternity / Tailgate / Basement / Backyard / Pretty Much Anywhere You Like Drinking - Bar

About: On the hunt for my proverbial "post-college-job", teaching Karate, building a better world one great Instructable at a time!

My fraternity was in dire need of an upstairs VIP bar. What was considered prior to my joining as VIP was a bucket with beer, and I for one have much higher standards. I looked on google-image for inspiration, saw some designs I liked and began.

Required Items:

  • Lots of nice looking plywood. I went for 3/4" thick Oak Hardwood, but then it depends on what kind of wood design you want showing through your stain.
  • High mirror shine epoxy for that smooth shiny finish. I used about 1/3 of a gallon for both surfaces (2 coats each). (this was both the most fun step because I'd never worked with epoxy before, and the most boring because as soon as I finished each coat I couldn't do any work in my garage for fear of kicking up dust that would stick to the epoxy for the next 12 hours).
  • 2 buckets, before cutting the holes in the top shelf I suppose you can pick how big you want them to be etc.
  • For my speed rail I went to a local restaurant supply store, they had 1 speed rail for sale ($79, yea right), So I bought 2 salad dressing clear plastic buckets ($5 each) for my two speed rails.
  • PVC (top left) I believe 4 inches across, they sell them at Lowe's for $4ish. This is the Solo Cup dispenser which I'll go into more depth once I get some better pictures of it.
  • Wood stain, I used Cherry Oak, 1 pint was good enough to finish the whole project. To go along with the stain I used 2 packs of cheese cloth and lots of rags to wipe up excess. (And some gloves, in case you like staining your body...)
  • The ice scooper, shot measurer spill mat were just extra things I threw in, this instructable is more about the bulk structure, to each their own on details and special effects.
  • To attach the speed rails I used 2 realllllly thin pieces of sheet metal, 2 feet long 6" wide, then just bent them to fit under and around my bucket holes to thoroughly attach my buckets in order to be able to support the weight of liquor bottles and the stray elbow leaning on it.
  • Lots and lots of carriage bolts, washers, nuts. The size you'll need depends on the holes you drill, so I wont be too picky on how many you use and what size. I prefer 5/16's but that's just me.
  • Polyurethane spray. This is for any surface you see might get wet, but doesn't necessarily need epoxy nice-ness.

Tools required:

  • Jig Saw
  • Band saw / table saw (you can do all the work with just a jigsaw but either of the latter make it go much quicker.
  • Rulers, pens, pencils, measuring tape, graph paper (for making handy blue prints) etc
  • A Dremel (not required, but when working with metal, or making things a little more user friendly: ie. shortening screws, rounding corners of sharp metal etc, it makes a big difference.
  • High Gloss epoxy.
  • Stain, cheese cloth, gloves, rags.
  • LOTS of little screws that you'll use to attach all your hinges and support bars. Less that 1" since you don't want them poking through if you use 3/4" thick pieces of wood to build it.
  • Hinges, I used 14 triangly shaped ones.
  • Sander, for making nice user friendly edges :)

Step 1: Cutting Out the Pieces.

I designed it to fit in a hallway, so it doesn't come out more than 18 inches from the wall, it stands 5' tall and 45" wide. All total, the wood pieces come apart into 6 individual pieces. When you take the speed rails off (they are attached to both the top shelf and side wings, then you're able to fold the side wings behind the backing and fold down both shelves to make it take up only about 5" of space off the wall.

PS - make sure your buckets for beer / ice / whatever can fit alllll the way into the squares you cut for them (up to the carry lip to make sure they don't fall through the holes) before you start staining / epoxy-ing.)

Step 2: Staining and Epoxy-ing.

The first photo is after staining with my Cherry Oak stain.

The second photo is of the first coat of epoxy and the third is while the 2nd coat of epoxy is drying.

NOTE - When using epoxy, it is often recommended to use a flame thrower torch to pop bubbles, I find that using a needle or tweezers while it's still wet is a lot easier since there is a huge risk of scorching the epoxy if not done right with the torch. The first layer always looks bubbly, the 2nd layer as you can see looks soooo smoooooth.

Step 3: Start Attaching.

I cut my backboard into 2 pieces since my original design had to fit into the trunk of my Toyota Corolla, however if you don't need to do this then skip that step. (you can't really tell anyway).

Figure out where your waist will be when serving drinks and put the top shelf of the bar at that level. I used 3 hinges for the top shelf since it will be supporting most of the weight.

Note, I also used 3 hinges for the bottom shelf, because I designed it that the bottom shelf would be the exact height of the bottom of the buckets, to support some of the weight when they were full of ice, water, beer, etc.

Step 4: Attaching Bottom Shelf and Sides.

If you don't have anyone to hold things up for you, have no fear! Painters tape and bungee cords are on the way!

Remember to leave a big enough gap for rotation of swiveling of the sides and shelves. (this goes more towards the portability of my design, feel free to make it a once built never moved model if you want.)

Initially I didn't think about staining the outer sides of the wings since the plan was for that side to be against a wall anyway, but I rethought it and just decided to stain the whole thing.

Step 5: Buckets!

I find with the Epoxy finish I gave it, adding a couple lamps really beefs up the awesomeness.

As you can see the bottom shelf is just barely almost touching the buckets, with a few well places towels, the weight of the buckets can easily be less burdensome the top shelf.

Step 6: A Little Bit Backwards.

I forgot to put this in, but this is just so you can see the whole design with the sides folded back.

Step 7: Guide to Custom Cheapo But Still Awesome Looking Speed Rails.

I'll make notes in the pictures, to illustrate my points and notes on these.

Step 8: PVC Solo Cup Dispenser.

I looked and looked online but alas could not find anything that dispensed Solo Cups.

So I spent 10 bucks ish and solved the world wide problem!

I used a rubber gasket sheet from the plumbing department as the holder in / resistant cup dispensing area thing.

Then I used one of those circle-screw-it-to-get-it-tighter circle metal things, also plumbing department. (I know ya'll will help me out with my vocabulary, but I'm a self taught inventor that learned from going to hobby shops and practically living at Lowe's.)

I used 2 "T" mounts (put 3 circle metal things on the PVC, 1 is for the gasket, the other 2 you slide the "T" mounts through and tightennnnnn, then use the "T" mounts to attach it to the side of the bar. Easy-peasy-japanesey.

Step 9: Coke Dispenser (All I Had Was an Empty Root Beer Bottle and I Didn't Feel Like Chugging a 2-liter of Coke Just for the Picture.

They sell these in the plumbing department, not sure what they're called. I attached it with a couple washers and one carriage bolt.

NOTE - I have yet to figure out how to get a on/off or spigot / hose method / invention to serve it faster, but I'm working on that, let me know if you find anything.

Step 10: Ready, Set, Serve Alcohol!

And it's finally assembled yaaay.

NOTE - I also bought at the restaurant store some of those speed pour nozzles for liquor bottles, they were probably the cheapest part of the whole bar and definitely worth it. (a bag of 20 for like $3).

Questions, comments, concerns?

Step 11: Finished and Installed on the 2nd Floor Landing of Our Fraternity House.