How to Build a Home Bar – DIY Step by Step Guide

I certainly couldn’t afford to have someone build a home bar for me, so I decided to come up with my own basement bar design, DIY bar plans, and bar cut list. Our plans will show you how to build a bar with no woodworking experience.

DIY Bar

When I moved into my first home I knew that I wanted a home bar in the basement as an additional hangout space for friends and family.

At the time I didn’t have the budget to pay someone to build a home bar for me, so instead I made my own DIY bar.

I decided to share my instructions in this post and I also created 3D bar blueprints, so you can easily learn how to build a bar too!

diy bar

Woodworking Experience to Build a Home Bar

I had ZERO woodworking experience at the time, but I decided to learn how to build a bar anyway.

If you don’t have much woodworking or tool experience then this a good place to start.

I had basic knowledge and skills with tools but certainly nothing skilled.

You too can build a basement bar to the exact specs and size that fits your space.

As always, when in doubt, consult a professional.

Things you Should Read To Make a Basement Bar

Note: I didn’t follow these specs exactly when building my home bar, but these are good guidelines.

Everything that you need to know to build a bar is in this post, but if you want to simplify your project we have 3D images of this bar and bar cut list.

How to Build a DIY Bar

A. Standard home bar height is 42 in. This should apply to a home bar as well.
B. The overhang should be at least 8 in
C. Most bar stools are 30 in tall but make sure it wills suit your before purchasing
D. The normal bar top is 16 to 20 in. wide, including the molding, but if there’s one regret I have, is not making it wider.
E. Chicago bar rail for resting your arms.
F. The drink rail is nice but I didn’t include this in my bar
G. A drip lip keeps spills contained to the bar top.
H. A lower counter is not necessary for a home bar and adds complexity, but you’re welcome to try
J. 2 feet per bar stool is the standard but the more the better.
K. The foot rail should be 7 to 9 in. off the floor

Also, it is recommended to mount a bar to a wall to prevent any tipping even if your floor feels level.

Size of My Home Bar

My home bar is about 8 feet long on the front side, 5 feet on the on the left side, and 3 feet on the right side.

Keep in mind the bar top will overlap on both sides of the bar and be much wider than this.

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plan – Bar Blueprints!

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plans include 3D models to build your home bar from the frame to finish.

Everything you need to know is in this post, but the detailed instructions on how to build a bar are 30 pages in length.

The plans include bar cut list to save you a ton of time and guess work.

DIY Bar Plans also help simplify how to add shelving, decorative accents, bar rail, and more.

If you have any other questions while building your home bar, you have us!

We typically respond with in 24 hours after receiving your comment on this bar post, if you have any questions.

Over 500 DIY Bar Plans Sold!

Many customers have said that they never built anything in their life, but with these instructions they were able to easily make a bar.

Everything you need to know is listed in this post, but these 3D plans will make your project even easier!

Tools Required to Build a Home Bar:

How to Build a Home Bar Frame

I used basic wood screws and 2×6’s to make my basement bar frame.

It’s easier if you lay it on the ground and construct it in 3 pieces (walls if you will), then put it together.

There are two 2×6’s on each end of the large wall just wide enough so that the other smaller wall 2×6’s attach to it and provide additional support.

I think the height is 40ish inches. Standard bar height is 42, but the bar top will add a few inches.

HOW TO BUILD A BAR
Basement Bar Frame

Make Sure Your Bar is Level

It’s important that the tops of all sides are level at this point or it can cause problems down the road, like an unlevel bar top.

It is recommended to mount a bar to a wall to prevent any tipping even if your floor feels levels.

I made the mistake of not checking this and my bar top is not level on the one side, but it still looks and works fine.

Don’t mind the beer cans in the picture. Beer isn’t required, but it is recommended.

Mounting the Bar

There is nothing attaching the basement bar to the wall at this point, so be careful not to tip the bar while working on it.

You can attach it if you want, but you definitely won’t want to at this point as adjustments may need to be made.

It is strongly recommended to mount a bar to a wall to prevent any tipping.

how to build a bar
Bar Frame with plywood attached

How to Build a Bar Frame

Next I added the plywood to all exterior sides with 3/4 inch PINE plywood.

Pine is softer wood but it keeps costs lower and looks nice and grainy.

Plus, I haven’t had any problems with it, but here a few things to remember.

When screwing it into the frame, I pre-drilled my holes.

Pre-drilling will make your life much easier and prevent the wood from cracking.

At this point I didn’t use wood glue to attach to the frame but you can if you want.

Bar Frame Tips

I did make the mistake of not putting shims on the bottom of the plywood where it meets the floor, so it kind of just rested on the ground when I screwed it in.

Ideally, you probably don’t want it touching the ground.

Elevating slightly will protect your bar in case of a basement leak or you move the bar to an uneven area.

It’s okay if there’s gaps on the corners, as these will be covered later by trim pieces.

I randomly placed screws on the perimeter of the frame, where I knew it would be covered by trim.

It’s important not to put it in the center of the frame where it will be seen later.

diy bar plans
DIY Bar Plans with Bar Cut List!
how to build a bar
Scroll down for the after!

How to Add Trim to a Home Bar

Next I added 1×8’s of pine to the bottom of the bar then I used wood glue and finish nails to adhere the trim.

Finish nails look cleaner and are easier to conceal.

I recommend pre-drilling your holes to prevent the wood from cracking.

Again, I made the mistake of not using shims to have it slightly elevated off of the ground.

The side and top trim pieces are 1×4’s of pine.

Then I used wood glue and finish nails to attached the trim to the sides of the bar.

how to build a bar
Adding the trim to the basement bar
how to build a bar
Behind the bar

Final Touches to the Trim

Now that the trim pieces have been put on it is starting to come together.

At this point I haven’t even touched the inside of the bar yet.

If you want complete blueprints for this exact bar with measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list, then you will like our DIY Bar Plan!

Also, it is recommended to mount a bar to a wall to prevent any tipping even if your floor feels levels.

diy bar

Home Bar Trim Design

I added a basic pattern to the front of the home bar, figuring 4 bar stools would fit nicely.

Measuring out a space for where each bar stool would sit then used 1×6’s, wood glue, and finish nails again.

I also, measured the sides of the bar to add the same pattern to the sides.

The trim pieces on the bar are adhered with wood glue then pre-drilled for the finish nails.

Pre-drilling allowed the finish nails to attach to the studs (frame) behind it, but an extra nail or two wouldn’t hurt.

If you want to avoid adding all of the trim pieces, you can add shiplap instead.

how to build a bar

Bar Design Ideas

Adding shiplap or similar wood planks will save time on cuts and measurements.

These are basement bar design ideas that you haven’t seen before!

diy bar
Add shiplap instead!

FIRST BAR TOP

For your DIY home bar you will have two “layers”.

The first layer, or sub bar top, I needed two pieces to span the bar.

I needed two pieces because one couldn’t fit the length of the bar.

These pieces can just be any standard 3/4 inch plywood because another plywood piece.

Pine or wood of your choosing will go on top of this for added stability.

It’s also needed for the Chicago bar rail along the edges, if that’s what you choose.

Again, this piece is NOT the top of your bar yet and will not be seen.

Refer to the layout at the top of the page for measurements accounting for how much should overhang.

How to Attach Bar Top

The bar top is attached using wood glue and screws into the top of the frame with pre-drilled holes again.

I did not do a drink rail in the back but you’re welcome to give it a shot.

I measured this about 16 times before cutting because you can see each piece is “L” shaped.

They needed to align seamlessly (in reality they don’t because another piece will cover it).

This piece hangs over 8 inches in the front and roughly 4 inches in the back.

One regret I have was not making the bar top a little bigger.

Even though the bar top is plenty big, it’s just personal preference.

SECOND BAR TOP

Before measuring and cutting the top later, make sure you look up directions on the bar rail that you’re getting!

The bar rail that I used was from Home Depot. It is a 1-1/8 in. x 4-1/2 in. Oak Chicago Bar Rail Molding.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture after stacking the second layer of the top.

It was about 1 1/2 inches shorter in the front (any place the bar rail will touch) than the bottom piece.

Make sure to read the directions on the Chicago bar rail you’re buying before measuring and cutting the second top piece.

I strongly recommend this because this what the bar rail rests on (see above).

The top piece was pine plywood then adhered with wood glue and wood screws.

I drilled the wood screws in from the BOTTOM, so that the screw heads weren’t visible.

Make sure that the screws won’t penetrate the top when screwed in.

If you are ever in doubt, then hold a screw next to it to see how far it’ll go into the next piece.

How to Pour Epoxy on Bar Top

After building this home bar, I poured epoxy on the top to add shine and protection.

This was my first time pouring epoxy, so I didn’t realize how tedious it could be.

I have made several other bars since this bar, so I learned a few tricks to pour epoxy.

Follow these tips to prevent bubbles in your epoxy with our tips and tricks.

How to Build Bar Shelves

Building the shelves for your home bar first involved creating a frame on the bottom.

The frame is made of basic 2×4’s and attaching to the frame of the bar.

diy bar
How to Build Bar Shelves

Then I cut a shelf to fit the frame size, with leftover pieces of pine from the bar.

The shelves are attached with finish nails.

It is best to build the shelves as you go, building it upward.

Meaning don’t just put on the back wall, it has to be stacked as you go.

It will be more clear as your read on while looking closely at the pictures.

You could to do this another way, have at it because I probably made this more complex than it needed to be.

diy bar plans
Adding the shelves to the bar

If you are still struggling with the shelves, we have complete blueprints for this exact bar with measurements.

The instructions provide 3D models of bar and shelves, a bar cut list, and shopping list.

how to build a bar
Building the Bar Shelves

How to Build Bar Shelves

The top shelf is supported by 1×4’s in the front support then the back wall as the back support.

To get the 1×4’s in the front to actually support the shelf, but still look clean in the front.

I attached another cut 1×4 piece to the back of the front 1×4’s (basically attaching two 1×4’s to each other) with wood glue and finish nails.

The shelf could then rest on those (back) 1×4’s while still having the front 1×4 untouched.

Bar Shelf Support

For support of the back of the shelf, I cut one of the 3/4 plywood pieces that will go against the back, and the shelf rests on that.

I put trim on the bottom of the shelf to hide the frame with 1x4s again.

Make sure the shelf is level in all directions before permanently attaching them. Aka, drop a pencil on it and see if it rolls.

HOW TO BUILD A home BAR

Again, I did a sandwich type technique to cut another piece of the back of the bar and rest a shelf on top of that, while sandwiching 1×4’s together again for front support.

Attaching the Shelves

Wood glue and finish nails were used when attaching all pieces involving the shelving, since they hide better than screws.

Below is the semi-finished product. You can still see gaps in the corner, which were later covered with quarter round.

I used 1/2 inch Birch for the very top shelf only because I had it left over from another project, but the other shelves were again, 3/4 inch pine plywood.

Then I covered the front edge of the plywood with basic 3/4 inch wide trim pieces.

HOW TO BUILD A BAR
diy bar plans

Basement Bar Shelving Ideas

If you don’t like the look of my basement bar shelves then here are some other bar shelving ideas from our customers.

These shelves were designed by our customers to perfectly fit their space and storage needs.

Adding Chicago Bar Rail to Your Home Bar

The bar rail is a separate process in itself because you cut the top of the bar.

Scroll back up to read about the 2nd bar top process. (remember there’s two pieces of plywood stacked on top of each other).

The very top piece should be cut slightly shorter than the bottom piece because the bar rail is notched so that it kind of steps up to the next piece.

how to build a home bar

Cutting Chicago Bar Rail Tips

When cutting the bar rail, you have to build a jig so that it gets cut exactly like it sits on the bar.

Constructing the jig is basically putting two pieces of wood together, with the same 1 ½ inch gap just like the top of the bar.

This should be explained further in the instructions of the bar rail if needed, which is probably easier than I can explain it here.

Even with the jig, I found it to be virtually impossible get the corners to line up perfectly.

I cut the wood multiple times and adjusted the angle, but I couldn’t get it to fit just right.

To fill the gaps I used, wood putty then sanded it like crazy to get the bar rail smooth where other pieces joined together.

The wood putty and sanding really helped to join the pieces together, for a smooth finish.

diy bar
The corners of the Chicago Bar Rail

If you want complete blueprints for this exact bar with measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list, then you will like our DIY Bar Plan!

Custom Home Bar and bar cut list
Basement bar shelves

FINISHING TOUCHES

This is the finished back of the bar, as I added one more trim piece, and then lined the back of the bar top with a couple pieces of 3/4 inch trim to hide the edge of the plywood.

The top of the smaller trim pieces lining the top of the bar, as you can see, actually is “L” shaped that it covers the bar top and back.

how to make a basement bar

3D models to easily make a home bar

This is the finished front of our basement bar.

You can see where two pieces of bar rail joined based off the wood putty mark.

I also needed wood filler on bar top where the two pieces joined.

Finishing Touches – How to Stain the Bar

I sanded the entire bar and stained the bar Kona Semi-Gloss Stain.

It took 2-3 coats of Kona stain to get the shade shown here.

HOW TO BUILD A BAR

This stain has the stain and polyurethane built in, so I did not need to add a top protective coat to the stain.

How to Epoxy the Bar Top

TWO PARTS EPOXY – It’s the shiny glass that protects the bar top. Check out our post here to learn how to epoxy the right way to prevent bubbles!

Bar Lighting

I did add the LED light strip that you see in the top picture for added effect.

I can change the color on those or keep them off altogether.

Since it’s an LED strip, it is hidden underneath my Chicago Bar Rail.

This of course is optional but everyone seems to enjoy it.

how to build a basement bar
DIY bar
Fully stocked home bar

Bar Stools

We purchased bar stools that are 30 inches in height, which are perfect for our bar.

If you like the look of our bar stools, then here are similar bar stools to ours.

The great thing about these bar stools is that they have a foot rest built into the bottom of the stool, so I didn’t even need to add the bar rail to the front of my bar.

Bar Rail for the Bottom of a Home Bar

The bar rail is the foot rest that sits at the bottom a bar, but is optional.

I am yet to add this because they can be rather expensive, but I do think they take the bar up a notch.

A home bar doesn’t have to be tedious or complex, and can be made without wood working experience.

The hardest part is just getting started, so go to the store and buy pieces for the frame.

After you have built the frame, then go back to the hardware store to pick up more wood for the next step.

Buying Wood for the Bar

I found it easier to go back and forth the hardware store for wood instead of trying to figure out all of the math ahead of time.

My wife thought I was trying to avoid her nagging by spending so much time are the hardware store.

Which is kind of true, but I really did find it easier to take the bar section by section so I didn’t get overwhelmed.

Once that frame is built, it adds a whole new level of motivation.

If you’re looking for directions on building the super simple accent wall, then check out my other blog post.

If you want complete blueprints for this exact bar with measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list, then you will like our DIY Bar Plan!

Be sure to comment below and let me know how yours turns out. I’ll try to answer any questions!

diy bar
Bar Shelving Ideas!

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64 thoughts on “How to Build a Home Bar – DIY Step by Step Guide”

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  5. Incredible instructions really. I searched for them for a while and these are the most complete. I am starting on it this weekend. Thanks.

    1. Hi Tim,

      I don’t have the exact specs because I figured everyone would want to tweak it to fit their space. I took numerous trips buy wood because I kind of bought it as I went so I didn’t waste any wood or overbuy. Because of that, I don’t have the cut list. There are dimensions at the top of the post for a standard bar that you can use as a guideline.

      Mine was roughly 8 feet long on the front side, 4 and a half feet on the on the medium side, and a little over 2 feet on the small side. That is just the “bottom” piece of the bar though. The bar top overlaps about 10 inches on all sides (with the bar rail installed). Lastly, from the ground to the bottom of the bar top was 41 inches high. If there are any specific questions, just let me know.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Unfortunately, this probably weighs around 500 lbs with all of the wood so it definitely wouldn’t be worth shipping this anywhere, lol. There are contractors that can certainly build a bar for you, or you can tackle this yourself and just do a little at a time, if you have the right skill set. It’s not overwhelming if you just look at it section by section instead of the entire thing at once 🙂

    1. Hi Cam!

      Thank you! The stain is Varathane in Kona. I used Kona on so many projects and it looks great on anything. I believe I did 3 coats of Kona on the bar. Let us know if you have any other questions! – Lacey & Brian
      Here is a link for the stain: https://amzn.to/3gyLs7b

      1. Hi- I too looked all over for bar plans to build my bar and yours were the beat. Thanks so much for that! All I have left Is the staining and epoxy. Two question: did you sand the whole thing before staining and also since the top was polyurethaned did you have to put that thin layer of epoxy on before you did the flood pour of epoxy.

      2. Hi Doug. First, thank you! My goal when creating this post was to give as much detail as possible. Yes, we did sand the whole thing before staining, which is tedious but you don’t have to overkill it. A quick once over should be okay. To answer your second question, no I just did the full pour of epoxy the first time. My only issue is that I didn’t have enough. Once it self leveled, there were spots that it didn’t fully cover and I had to try and conceal it later. When in doubt, it’s always better to have more and not need it. Let us know if you have anymore questions and attach a picture when you’re done!

  6. Thank you for your instructions!! I used them as a blueprint for my bar build and it was so helpful!! Two questions… 1. Did you sand before you stained and in between each coat of stain? 2. Did you have to apply the thin layer of epoxy as well as the flood layer. I’m wondering if you could skip the first layer since you applied the stain with polyurethane on the top before the epoxy.

    1. Hi Doug! I’m looking into building this bar as well. Did you by chance, make a list of all the materials used?

  7. Hi, I wanted to thank you for posting this article. I was looking for a project during the Corona Virus lockdown and decided to build a bar for my garage. I’ve never really built anything like this so pretty much everything was a first for me. I followed your blueprint pretty closely with some tweaking for my space. I just put the last piece of trim on tonight so need to start sanding tomorrow. It turned out really great and I couldn’t have done it without your post. Really awesome, and really great of you to share the way you did.

    Just wanted to pass along my sincere thanks.

    John
    Westfield, NJ

  8. Hi, great work! I was wondering if you had a list of all the materials you used and how much of each so I know what to buy? Thank you

    1. Thanks, Mat! Unfortunately I don’t because I made numerous trips to the store and bought pieces as I went since it was my first build and wasn’t sure what I’d need. I listed the materials throughout the post so you can kind of get a rough idea of what’s needed, but kind of figured everyone would build a bar to their own specs anyway. Sorry! Let me know if you have any other specific questions though.
      – Brian

  9. Awesome instructions, we are building ours as I type this! Can I ask where the bar stools pictured are from?!

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    1. Hi Kevin, the specs that I built it to, in this post, I didn’t add any attachment to the wall or floor because it probably weighs 500lbs and is stabilized by the two sides. However, if you didn’t build it like mine, you might want to consult a professional or just attach it to the wall and/or floor to be safe.

  11. Stefan Noer Andersen

    Hi.
    I’ve noticed that in a lot of the posts I’ve read about building a bar (including yours) the bar is always painted after assembly. Why is that? Isn’t it easier to paint before assembly. Nice build by the way

    1. Hi Stefan,
      We find with woodworking projects it is easier to always stain or paint after the project is assembled. For instance with the bar, there was a lot of surface area that didn’t need to be stained as this was covered by other pieces of wood. We also, had to use wood putty on the Chicago bar rail then sand to smooth the surface for staining.

      Thank you! We are currently working on a 3D model of the bar to share with our readers. We should be finishing up the 3D model in the next couple of weeks, so check back!

      We hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions.

      Lacey & Brian

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    1. Thanks John! It took about 3 weekends to completely finish the bar. Come back soon because we are getting ready to launch detailed instructions with 3D models of the bar. Let us know how your bar turns out!
      Brian and Lacey

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  17. Looking at the plans It seems like I would need to order 2 of the Chicago bar rails as I am going to need more that 96 inches. Am I correct in that?

    1. Hi Brent,
      The total surface area for the bar rail would need to cover roughly 210 inches. Because of that, I ordered 1 piece each at 96″, 72″, and 48″. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for error though (or if there’s defects), so keep that in mind if you order those same sized pieces. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      1. Sorry last question. I am really struggling trying to find how to do this whole Stain + epoxy thing online. I keep reading you should and shouldn’t coat with poly before applying Epoxy. I know you bought the Stain + Poly but the stain I wanted doesnt appear to be sold in that format. Can I just buy a Oil Stain, stain the whole thing, then apply an Oil Poly coat let it dry, sand it and then apply the epoxy over that?

      2. Hi Brent, we actually just finished up a post today about how to pour epoxy. We just applied epoxy onto our friends bar and it came out great! So, you do not have to use a stain that includes poly. It is a nice extra protection for the rest of the bar though. You can simply just use an oil based stain then epoxy over the oil based stain after it has completed dried. If you want an extra layer of protection for the rest of the bar then I would add the poly over the rest of the stain avoiding the area that you poured epoxy. Sounds like you are almost done your bar, can’t wait to see how it turns out!
        https://rocksolidrustic.com/2019/03/17/build-your-own-home-bar/

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  21. I bought your plans, pretty well detailed. What was the trim you used for the back of the bar top that would be facing the bartender and did you add it before the epoxy was done or after? The poly 1 step stain did you do the countertop with it also then epoxy?

    1. Hi! It actually is in the bar plan but at the very bottom under “finalizing the bar section”. But I used 1 1/8” x 1 1/8” wood pine outside corner moulding. I added it before the epoxy so it kept the epoxy from spilling over the back. Yes, the entire bar, including the bar top was done with that stain, then the epoxy was poured on top after it was completely dry. Just let me know if you have any more questions!

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    1. Hi Krystle, It costs roughly $500 in lumber to build this 7 person bar. To save on costs, you could make the bar smaller or purchase the wood from a local lumber supplier. We hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions!
      Thanks, Brian & Lacey

  23. I’ve watched your epoxy video and read your page on it. I applied stain and then wipe on poly. Should i put a seal coat of epoxy first on the top then do the flood? Or would the flood poured over the wipe on poly be fine. I’ve read conflicting stories on it. If you used stain and poly in 1 can your surface most likely looked just like mine does.

    1. Hi! We used stain and poly mixed in a can then poured the epoxy directly over the dried surface. We did not wipe epoxy on, we poured the epoxy on one end of the bar then worked our way around. While pouring the epoxy, another person followed behind spreading the epoxy with a puffy knife. We have use epoxy this way multiple times and it turned out great. The first time we ever poured epoxy we didn’t purchase enough and ended up with bubbling because we couldn’t properly spread the epoxy. So, make sure you purchase a little more epoxy than you think is needed to cover the surface to correctly spread it. Hope this helps!
      -Lacey

      1. Hello, regarding your concern about having enough epoxy, do you have a rule of thumb about how to calculate the amount needed. Like how much should be purchased for every square foot of surface to be covered?

        Thanks, Lloyd

      2. Hi Lloyd, When I purchased epoxy to build this bar, I only purchased 1 container of the rustoleum brand epoxy. I should have read the instructions more carefully because the back of the box states how many square feet each container can cover. I have poured epoxy a few more times on this same size bar and and it came out great with just 1 gallon of another brand of epoxy. The brand of epoxy is linked in our other post about pouring epoxy: https://rocksolidrustic.com/2020/10/22/how-to-pour-bar-top-epoxy-the-right-way/

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  26. This is great info. I wonder why did you use 2×6 rather than 2×4 for the frame. Seems 2×4 would be strong enough wouldn’t it?

    1. Thank you! Glad you found or post helpful. We went with 2 x 6’s after doing some research on other bars. Many of the other bars used 2 x 6’s, so we felt more confident using those. If you make any changes to the plans, make sure to mount the bar to prevent any tipping and seek a professional if needed.

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