Step 1

Size Up the Project

Reclaimed materials saved from the demolition of internal walls, such as those found in the dumpster at the Blog Cabin 2011 site, can be found in a number of neighborhood locations including old country barns, thrift stores and antiques shops. A popular spot to search for rustic building material is the local recycling center.

Bar size and location play into the design. These two factors are important when “scouting” and “dumpster diving” for materials. Visualize the dry bar's location based on convenience and function. Before building, ask these questions:

1. What will you store in the dry bar?
2. Where would you like to place the dry bar?
3. How will the legs be attached to stabilize the furnishing?
4. Would you like the dry bar to be rough and rustic, modern or a contemporary centerpiece in the room?

Step 2

Frame the Dry Bar

Cut legs to 40 1/2” lengths and place in the four corners of the bar area Screw the back legs (and/or side legs, depending on the design location), into the wall studs, using the level for a plumb fit.

Once the legs are secure in the wall, use the level again to mark the legs with a pencil where the front and side bracing will be attached. These supports will hold the two shelves. The height of the shelves depends on the contents inside the bar. The braces connect the two side legs, fore and aft, as well as across the front and back legs.

Pro Tip

Safety Tip: Be careful not to secure legs into the wall by drilling into electrical wiring or plumbing.

Builder's Tip: Place the lower front brace behind the two front legs to create a built-in toe kick plate.

Step 3

How to Create Shelves for Your Dry Bar

How to Create Shelves for Your Dry Bar

Photo by: Frank Murray

Frank Murray

Attach the Reclaimed Shelving

Measure the inside dimensions between the legs so when the reclaimed wood shelves are cut, they will sit atop the braces. The front part of the shelves should be flush with the front legs and back wall. Screw or finish nail the two shelves into place.

Pro Tip

The tops of these shelves will be visible when the bar door is swung open; therefore, use old, rusty nails or finish nails.

Step 4

Cut, Wrap and Install the Bar Top

Measure the dimensions for the bar top, allowing for a 2” overhang in the front. Cut two pieces of 3/4” plywood to fit the top. Screw both pieces of the 3/4” plywood together to create a 1 1/2” thick bar top.

Choose a section of reclaimed metal roofing that looks worn and well-aged to add character to the bar top. Lay the metal under the plywood. Carefully cut the metal 1” wider on three sides and 2 1/2” wider in the front than the plywood. To reduce deadly metal “fish hooks” on edges, half cut rather than full-squeeze cut the reclaimed metal with tin snips.

Lay the metal sheet on top of the plywood surface and hammer the metal sheet flat. Using wood clamps and a 2x4 (or level), temporarily secure the metal in place on the edge and bend over sides carefully with light hammer taps. Cut the metal at the corners to allow for a complete, flat wrap. The front metal wrap will fold over the side and attach underneath, out of sight. Nail the sides and front metal wrap in place.

Lay the metal-wrapped top on the bar legs. Use old nails or screws to attach the top in place.

Step 5

Designing and Attaching the Old Door

Clean off and dust an old garden gate or barn door. Gather old rusty hinges, old gate latches and rusted screws.

The door may need to be cut to size and reinforced on the back side to accommodate the hinges. The hinges will be recessed into the door. Trace the hinge outline onto the door face. Drill corner holes and cut out recessed hinge slots. Screw the hinges into the door with rusty screws. Now attach the door by screwing the door hinges into the front legs.

Pro Tip

If the bar is freestanding, the hinges may be screwed to the outside of the legs. If the bar is built in a small nook, the hinges are installed on the inside of the legs. When attaching the door, rest it on floor shims to gain swing clearance when the door is opened.

Step 6

Trimming Out the Backsplash, Side Trim and Rustic Latch

Take a step back and assess what is needed to finish the project. The small gaps between the bar top and walls are covered with a back splash, approximately 4”-6” in height. A side face trim adjacent to the front door covers the legs and “extends” the door appearance to the outside edge of the bar. A door latch and magnetic closures finish off the job.

If the bar is set against a wall, measure the width of the backsplash from side to side and cut a piece of reclaimed wood to fit. Rip the backsplash wood 4” - 6” for height and nail it into place using old nails (be certain to hit the wall studs). If the sides of the bar are against a wall, measure for the side splash, bringing the side splash flush with the front of the top.

The Blog Cabin 2011 dry bar is located in a small nook so the door hinges are installed on the inside of the legs. A space exists on both sides of the door. Measure the width of these two side spaces. Rip a piece of old door wood and nail in place. The old barn door or gate wood needs to run from outside edge to outside edge. An old gate latch or knob will finish out the front and a magnetic closure will keep the door closed.

Step 7

Optional Additions

If a rustic look is desired, apply Briwax on the front door. Test wax a piece of door scrap wood first. In addition, old galvanized 4” hard ducts, when linked or stacked together form a rustic wine rack. Screw them into the wall, use rivets or weld the ducts together to create a pyramid wine rack.