How to Build a Club Bar Part 5 of 5 Install Trim & Cabinets

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Owning your own in-house bar makes a statement about you. For some, it might say “I have arrived and this is my space!”


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Owning your own in-house bar makes a statement about you. For some, it might say “I have arrived and this is my space!” While for others a bar might say “Welcome, friends, our home is your home.” And for others, well, let’s just say the possibilities are fairly wide-ranging. But whatever story your bar tells—be it one of quiet aperitifs before dining, casual afternoons watching the big game, or raucous evenings of wild revelry—building your bar yourself personalizes the tale and adds a feature to your home that will have a direct impact on how well you enjoy your home life.
The bar shown here is sleekly styled and smartly laid out for the efficient barkeeper. A small refrigerator gives you access to cold drinks and ice while convenient cabinets create excellent storage spots for party favors.
While this is a “dry bar” (no plumbing), the design could be modified in any number of ways to add running water if you wish. All you need to get the party started is a GFCI electrical outlet and the proper floor space.
This compact corner bar design features glossy black MDF aprons with decorative cherry appliqués forming a horizontal grid pattern on the aprons. A cherry plywood bartop sits atop a 2 x 6 L-shaped kneewall, harboring some practical amenities on the bartender side. A flip-up lift gate in the bartop on one end provides pass-through access and can even function as a wait station if you want to get really fancy in your hosting
The key components—base cabinets, a laminate countertop, the fridge, and the wood for a sleek Asian-inspired style trim-out—set the stage for your next gathering. Let’s party.

Cutting List
11⁄2 x 5 1⁄2 x 68"
2 x 6

11⁄2 x 5 1⁄2 x 38"
2 x 6

3⁄4 x 16 1⁄2 x 80"
Cherry plywood

Bar substrate
3⁄4 x 16 1⁄2 x 80"

Bar substrate
3⁄4 x 16 1⁄2 x 65 1⁄4"

Lift gate
3⁄4 x 16 1⁄2 x 22 1⁄4"
Cherry plywood

Bartop trim
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2" x cut to fit

End cap
3⁄4 x 7 3⁄4 x 41"

Trim stiles
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x 41"

Trim rails
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x cut to fit

Countertop cleat
1 1⁄2 x 1 1⁄2 x 22"
2 x 2

Lift gate stop block
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x 18"

1⁄2 x 40 1⁄2 x 68 3⁄4"

1⁄2 x 40 1⁄2 x 68 3⁄4"

From: Complete Guide to Custom Shelves & Built-Ins, 978-1-58923-303-4

What You'll Need


Miter saw
Table saw
Circular saw
Stud finder
Pull saw
Flat bar
Pneumatic nailer/compressor
Combination square


(10) 2 x 6" x 8 ft. SPF
(1) 3/4 x 4 x 8 cherry plywood for bartop
(1) 3/4 x 4 x 8 particleboard
(2) 6 ft. strips 1/2 x 16" cement board
20 sq. ft. 4 x 4 wall tile
Thinset and grout
3/4" thick cherry- 2 @8 x 42" (actual)
3/4 x 1 1/2" cherry approx 80 lineal ft.
(2) 1/2" x 4 x 8 ft. MDF
36" base cabinet- corner (12" wide doors)
24" base cabinet
Refrigerator (19w 22d 32-3/4" h)
Postform countertop
(mitered, 6 ft. each leg)
16d common nails
Panel adhesive
11/2" wallboard screws
Finish nails (4d, 6d)
Finishing materials
Piano hinge


Step 1

Install Trim and Hardware

Rip-cut a strip of cherry that’s slightly wider than the distance from the tiled wall surface to 3/4" past the apron fronts (about 8") and then cut it to fit between the floor and the underside of the bartop, which should overhang the end wall stud by 3/4" or slightly more. Cut another identical strip. Attach one strip to the end of the kneewall and attach the other to the wall on the opposite side of the pass-through so the two strips are perfectly aligned.

Step 2

Install Stop for Gate Lift Section of Countertop

Cut a strip of 1 x 2 cherry to 18" long and attach it to the wall, centered over the 8"-wide end panel. This strip will function as the stop for the lift gate section of countertop. For consistency, roundover the top edges of the 1 x 2 so it looks like a section of countertop.

Step 3

Attach the Piano Hinge to the Lift Gate Section of Countertop

Attach a piano hinge to the square-cut mating edge of the lift gate countertop section. The barrel of the piano hinge should be oriented upward relative to the bartop surface.

Step 4

Attach the Lift Gate to the Countertop

Attach the other leaf of the piano hinge to the edge of the main countertop and test to see if it opens and closes easily and is level when open.

Step 5

Add the Decorative Cherry Wood Strips

Cut the cherry trim pieces to size to make the ladder grids that decorate the aprons. Install the strips, following the patterns shown on the diagram. Make sure the ends of the strips are tucked flush against the inside face of the cherry end panel.

Step 6

Install the Cabinets

You can appoint the bartender’s area of the Club Bar just about any way you wish because the bartop and wall are freestanding, independent structures. We chose to install a couple of base cabinets, a dorm-size refrigerator and an economical, low-maintenance postform countertop. Start by placing the corner cabinet in the corner. Place the 24" cabinet to the right of the corner cabinet. Flush up the face frames (if they have them; the ones seen here are frameless) and clamp the cabinets together with bar clamps. Pre-drill, countersink, and screw the face frames or cabinets sides together.

Step 7

Install a Bartender Countertop

Install a countertop for the bartender. We chose an inexpensive postform countertop with a pre-cut mitered corner.

Step 8

Add in Refrigerator of Beverage Cooler

If you’ve left one end of the bar open for a refrigerator, install a wall cleat to support the countertop above the refrigerator. Plug in and slide in your refrigerator, add a couple of strands of holiday lights or any other décor you fancy.



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