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How to Build a DIY Basement Bar (with plans)

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 186 Projects

Owning your own in-house bar makes a statement about you. 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 × 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

How to Build a DIY Basement Bar (with plans)

  1. HI052306C

    Anchor the sill plates for the kneewalls to the floor so they form a right angle at the corner where they meet. Use 16d common nails or screws and panel adhesive for a wood floor; use a powder-actuated nailer on a concrete floor.

  2. HI052306D

    Use panel adhesive and deck screws to attach the end kneewall stud to the back wall, attaching at a stud location. If there’s no stud, open the wall and insert a horizontal nailer between the nearest studs.

  3. HI052306E

    Use 16d common nails to toe-nail the corner studs to the sill plates. Use a level to make sure the studs are vertical.

  4. HI052306F

    Complete the framing for the L-shaped kneewall section. For extra strength, drive a few 3" deck screws through the studs where they meet at the corner.

  5. HI052306G copy

    Rip two sheets of 1/2" MDF to 40 1/2" wide and trim them to length to make the bar front panels. Sand edges to remove any saw marks. For the smoothest possible finish, spray the front apron panels with an HVLP sprayer. Apply the paint or lacquer over primer, in thin coats.

  6. HI052306H

    Prepare at least 80 lineal feet of 3/4 × 11/2" hardwood stock to trim out the aprons and edges of the bartop.

  7. HI052306I

    For efficiency, apply a protective finish to the cherry apron trim stock. Dab some finish on the cut ends after you cut each trim piece to length.

  8. HI052306J

    Apply panel adhesive to the kneewall studs to strengthen the bond with the black aprons. Slip a 1/4-thick spacer beneath each apron to create a gap between the panel and the floor.

  9. HI052306K

    Attach the aprons with a pneumatic nailer and 2 1/2" Finish Nails Nail the apron panels to the wall studs at 8" to 12" intervals.

  10. HI052306L

    Attach cement board strips to the edges of the kneewall framing members as a backer for the backsplash area.

  11. HI052306M

    Install the inside wallcovering before you cap the wall. We used inexpensive 4 x 4" ceramic wall tile set into a layer of thinset adhesive that's troweled onto the cement board.

  12. HI052306N

    Bond the particleboard subbase directly to the top plates of the kneewalls, taking care to achieve even overhangs of 6" in front and 4" on the bartender side of the walls.

  13. HI052306O

    Drive plenty of 2" deck screws to secure the subbase to the walls. The screw heads must be sunk beneath the wood surface.

  14. HI052306P

    Make 45-degree miter cuts in the bartop top layer using a circular saw and cutting guide.

  15. HI052306Q

    Laminate the top layer of cherry plywood to the subbase with panel adhesives and 1 1/4" screws driven up through the subbase.

  16. HI052306R

    Cut a roundover profile in one edge of the cherry edging stock and then cut the parts to length and attach them to the edges of the bartop with nails and glue.

  17. HI052306S

    Square-cut a piece of 1 × 2 edging to fit exactly between the ends of the roundover edging, and nail and glue it into place.

  18. HI052306T

    Nail the cherry end panel to the wall end to conceal the stud wall and the edges of the wallcoverings and trim.

  19. HI052306U

    Attach a 1 × 2 stop block for the lift gate to the wall directly above the wall-mounted end panel.

  20. HI052306V

    Attach the piano hinge to the lift gate section of the countertop first, then attach the other leaf to the countertop.

  21. HI052306W

    Attach the lift gate to the countertop and test to make sure it operates smoothly and correctly.

  22. HI052306X

    Add the decorative cherry strips in a ladder grid pattern, using an air nailer. Start with the vertical strips, then cut the horizontals to fit.

  23. HI052306Z

    Attach a countertop to the base cabinets to create an easy-to-clean work surface for the bartender.

  24. HI052306Z2

    Slide in a refrigerator, eg-o-rator or any appliance you choose.

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