There comes a point where you have enough parties and your friends leave enough drinks at your place that you must build a bar. Oh, this is easy, well, maybe not.

Step 1. Decide if you want a fridge in your bar or not. There are two types of fridges, expensive vent out the front commercial fridge, or the clear glass front fridges you have to leave two inches of clearance around. Go with the second option. We bought a nice Frigidare mini fridge with a glass front that fits in very well.

Step 2. Buy base cabinets from a local home improvement store (you can build your own). Base cabinets are what your entire kitchen is made of and are different from wall cabinets because they are deeper and have a toe kick. They usually have built-in supports to hold a counter top. Once you have the fridge, add in the four inches (two on each side) to properly vent the fridge, or what is recommended in the fridge manual. Also make sure your bar is not too long, you are not opening a restaurant here.

Step 3. Build a 2×4 wall, including the studs being 16″ on center to help screw in the cabinets. Since base cabinets are mounted to a wall in a kitchen to keep them from coming apart or moving, you should do the same. This also gives you an area to put the actual bar top where you put your food or drinks. The base cabinets are around 34″ tall, with a countertop. No one wants to lean up on a kitchen counter with their elbows, it feels horrible. Normal bar height is 42″ excluding the bar moulding. REMEMBER, 2×4″ are 1 1/2 ” x 3 1/2″, don’t mess up and be off by 1/2″ in your calculations. You will have 1 1/2″ for the bottom 2×4, and another 1 1/2″ for the top 2×4. Most bars use two layers of 3/4 plywood, so subtract 1 1/2″ (3/4″ X 2) for the plywood for the 42″ height.

Bar Wall

Screwing the cabinets to the base of the wall. Use shims so you don’t pull the plywood apart.

IMG_20140825_194842Cabinets screwed to 2x4 Wall

Step 4. Add in some paneling. No one wants to see those 2×4 or the back of those cabinets. Spend the extra few dollars and get some nice sanded or baltic birtch plywood. 1/4″ will work just fine if put the 2×4″ 16″ on center unless someone kicks your bar. If someone kicks your bar, you would have issues with 3/4 plywood too, you just spent more.

Construction Adhesive to attach a panel to hide the 2×4 wall.


1/8 plywood on cabinet end
Apply a sheet of 1/8 plywood, then trip to the cabinet.
Bar Build
Same for all sides, micro-pin nailer so I didn’t have to clamp it.
Fluted molding, cut on 45 and on top of a 3" trip piece.
Fluted molding, cut on 45 and on top of a 3″ trip piece.
Fluted molding, dry fit.


Added more trim with glue and a pin nailer, corbels to better support weight on the bar.
Added more trim with glue and a pin nailer, corbels to better support weight on the bar.


Next up, the countertop, paint and bar moulding.