Bar Build

Bar Build – Part 1

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.

Custom Cabinet – Part II

Now the face frame is next. You can use pocket screws everywhere you see a Domino instead. I cut the eight holes for the four Dominos. The Dominos have a specific glue requirements, mainly because they are not like normal biscuits.

First, dump some glue in the hole. The domino cutter cuts a little extra gab at the bottom. Using a Fastcap Glue-Bot, easier than the usual wood glue bottles.


Next, put some glue on the Domino on both sides. Fancy glue brush in all, Bench Dog Silicon Glue Brush, its like $8 but glue never gets stuck on it :).


Dropping glue to the other side. Bad news, this glue will fall out.


Start clamping, the triangle is for alignment and to tell which parts go where. The tiny bit of glue means you used just enough, you should worry when you don’t see any glue.


Final check, run a tape measure to check the diagonals. This lets you know if it is square or not or how off they are. This one turned out to be less than 1/16 out of square thanks to the domino system and I bet the error is all on my using the tape measure.

If it is out of square, run a clamp down the diagonal to squeeze it back to square. Back pipe clamps are useful and cheap for this task.


Next up, putting peg holes in place for the shelf, and attaching the face frames.

Roubo Build Update

All pegged up and the bench tops have been set on base. Unlike my thin saw horses, it didn’t budge at the extra weight. I have some quick sanding to do for another project. So the tops might stay like this a while. The height is great.

Roubo Bench


Custom Cabinet – Part 1

We have this awkward closet in the basement that was serving no purpose. We took plywood, put it at counter top level, then nailed down some red oak flooring. It look great, and soon we will pull the tv off, stain it with walnut, polyurethane it and it will match the stairs. We have to address the big hole in the middle first, CUSTOM CABINET TIME!

Lessons learned.

  • To cut two pieces the same size, do it at the same time on a table saw
  • Clamp when using pocket screws and it goes better
  • Don’t forget the face frame overhang



Step 1, go buy most of the cabinets. Building cabinets and drawers is tough. Which is why I’m building just one :). I’m following these plans from Ana White – Build a 18″ Kitchen Cabinet Drawer Base. Mine won’t have the drawers and her plan is a lot simpler than the Kreg Jig plans!

Step 2, buy some plywood. I bought three 3/4″x24″x48″ Oak Plywood  pieces, two for the sides, one as a spare. You can never have enough plywood.

Step 3, cut the plywood. You cut the sides to height, do not adjust the table saw during this time. If you do, trim both pieces to keep them even.  I kept the offcuts to use as the bottom and top supports.


Step 4, cut the bottom to width. Cabinets have a 1/4″ overhang of the face frame plus the 3/4″ width of the plywood, and count it twice. So subtract 2″ to from the total width. This is my second cut.


Step 5, cut the supports to width. If you have not adjusted your table saw, the measurements will match.

Step 6, cut to height, which you will be doing 5″ wide, not confusing at all.  These are for the bottom. When setting your fence, sight it down with one eye at the blade (blade off of course). Also push on your tape measure, the play at the end is the tape measure adjusting for the hook’s width.

IMG_0319 IMG_0318

Step 7, push the fence closer for the top supports. Wide enough for two pocket screws, I picked somewhere around 3-4″ wide. No sense to waste wood no one will see or use.

Step 8, lower the table saw blade and use it as the surface to assemble the cabinet.  Then start drilling the pocket holes. Keep in mind the finish side versus the ugly side of plywood.

Using the Kreg Jig® R3


Step 9, you need to cut the toe kick. Ever try to stand against a wall, the toe kick lets you bump up against the cabinet. I cheated and used my jigsaw and hand held a combination square. If you clamp a square, it squeezes the metal like a dent in your car door.

Straight and perfect


Step 10, clamp while screwing the pocket screws. I used the coarse threaded Kreg Screws, there is some internet debate on which to use. Considering pocket screws can hold 600lb of force, it doesn’t matter which. The cabinet will have downward force from the counter top, or lateral force from the cabinet hinge. A touch of glue on the face sides, a double dose for the end grain sides. End grain soaks up glue, so you have to saturate it to get any to stay on the surface. (End grain glue joints also have no strength, hence pocket screws)




I slightly boxed myself in with my long clamps.




I might need more room


To align things, I just smack it with my trusty hammer. It has a wide flat face, which keeps you from slamming something to far away.


Step 11, make some shelves. I decided to go with adjustable shelves since this will hold an Xbox, DVD player, and a APC UPS for battery backup and surge protection. To better paint the shelves, and add strength, add a piece of solid wood to the front. First attempt was with a biscuit joiner. Biscuits are not for alignment, more adding strength.

Clamping a biscuit jointed board
Clamping a biscuit jointed board

Festool Domino 500 to the rescue! It produces a mortise plunge cut, and provides precisely matched tenons to glue in place.

Festool Domino 500
New tool halfway through the process

All put in place, and ligned up ready for glue.

Dominos in the edge banding

Way less clamping needed, and no seem between the plywood and the piece of oak.

Domino jointed edge clamped

Coming in part two, cut the pin holes for the shelving, prime, paint and face frames with the Festool Domino!







Six Board Blanket Chest – Build

For the Christmas season I decided to be ambitious and build not one, but two, Six Board Blanket Chests. One for my mother and the other for my mother in law, they both have a lot of blankets.

Traditionally, a six board chest is made with six boards jointed for each panel and planned down. Along with the boards being one inch thick. My version of this follows that with a few minor changes.

Materials Needed

  • Edge Glued Panels from your local home improvement store
    • (2)  3/4 x 18-in x 72-in Aspen Panels – Front/Back Pieces
    • (2)  3/4 x 24-in x 48-in Aspen Panels – Side Pieces
    • (4)   1 x 24-in x 48-in Stain grade Spruce Panels – Top/Bottom Pieces
  • Piano Hinge, 1 1/2 inch or 1 1/16″
  • Cut Nails, more on this later
  • Painters Tape

Tools Needed

  • Table saw or the ability to cut a straight line (panel saw, circular saw)
  • Block Plane
  • Hammer
  • Chisel

Plan loosely followed
Fine Woodworking – 18th-Century Six-Board Chest (PDF)

First step is to cut the large panel down to size. Using the 72″ panel, you can make the front panels for two blanket chest at the same time. One will be slightly smaller, but most won’t notice or have anything to compare it too. Make sure to apply painters tape cut line, this will prevent tear out on softer woods like aspen or pine. 36 7/8″ x 17″ final dimension for chest 1, ~35″ x 17 for the front/back of chest two.




Time to cut the sides. There will be a small cut-off in the middle that can be used as scrap or later for the battons for the top. Final Measurements, 17″ x 24″. You should have a small strip less than an inch if you accounted for the saw kerf.


Second side cut, you can see the painters tape worked and stayed on.


Mark off the side that will accept the stopped dado for the side. This is really important as you can’t just switch them them around as the front has the stopped dado, not both. Also start marking the pieces, S2 is for Side of the 2nd blanket chest, the underscore is in case you flipped it around.





Switch to your dado blade and make all the dado cuts. Dado blades are a pain to change and setup. Feather board and push block used for protection.



My new/old Ridgid saw can’t accept a large dado blade, plus I setup the dado for the grooved bottom. A block plane can clean it up very nicely and quickly. No one will see this side of the joint.





You can see the dado cut on the side panel below. Showing the same dado cut twice and I forget to get that picture. Same setup as before.

Stopped Dado – A normal dado that stops to a 90 degree angle. You can’t finish it just on the table saw, but it can help. You see i stop right before the stop point and the blade is fully raised to try and get as close to 90 as possible with a round blade.



Time to clean up the stopped dado. First, lets get rid of all the waste. Make sure to put a waste block under to help tear-out and you don’t want to bang a chisel into a table saw.




All done, just a few blows with the mallet.




If you have followed the instructions well, you should have this clean cut. The side will hold the bottom board, and the front/back will rest on top of the piece.





The chest is held together with 20 “cut nails”. They will be visible, so you can use a “Divider” to evenly space them. Sharpen the point, and push in, rotate, push in, repeat. They look like a middle school compass missing the pencil.



Soft woods and nails near the edge tend to split wood. Drill a small pilot hole to help prevent this.


Cut nails are not round like a wire nail. Make sure to align the long portion with the grain, again, prevents splitting. Cut nails are what was used to build the chest long ago, they are hard to find. I buy from *insert tremont*. Cut nails are sold by the pound and in increments of 3d, 4d, 5d, 6d, 8d. We are using 3/4 material, so that is 6/8th, so we use a 6d nail. I am purposefully ignoring the data we put into it.



You should have a small overhang, and that is good! An overhang helps you to flush up the edges, and a block plane helps to do that. If you set it for a large shaving, you will need to put a lot of force in it. You are going against end-grain, so it is acting like a chisel slicing all the wood fibers.


Paint and you are a step away from done!