How to Build a Club Bar Part 1 of 5 Build the Kneewalls

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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.”


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Time to Complete:
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Continue to Step 1


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

Installing the Sill Plates

The bar top is supported by a pair of heavy-duty 2 x 6 kneewalls that are anchored to the wall and floor and meet in an L. This configuration presumes that you’ll be installing the bar in the corner of the room. If that configuration doesn’t work for your space, you can use similar building strategies, but redesign the project as a straight-line or a U-shape bar.
Cut the 2 x 6 sill plates to length (68"). Measure out from the corner the distance of the sill plates plus the pass-through opening width plus 3/4" for the thickness of the end panel (92 3/4" here). Mark a reference line and lay a sill plate at this distance, perpendicular to the back project wall. Arrange the second sill plate so the end overlaps the open end of the first sill plate and the two form a perfect 90 degree angle. Join the corners with screws or a metal connector to keep them from moving during installation, and then anchor the sill plates to the floor. Use 16d common nails or screws and panel adhesive for a wood floor; use a powder-actuated nailer on a concrete floor.

Step 2

Attach the End Stud

Once the sills are in place, attach the end stud against the back wall. If you are lucky (or planned well) the stud will fall over a wall stud. If the new kneewall must fall over a stud bay in the room wall, you’ll need to remove some wallcovering and install a nailing cleat between the closest wall studs so you have a very sturdy surface to anchor the end of the wall.

Step 3

Create the Stud Wall Corner

Next, make the stud wall corner. Use 16d common nails to toe-nail the studs to the sill plates

Step 4

Framing the Club Bar

Install a stud at the free end of the return, then fill in with evenly spaced intermediate studs spaced no more than 16" apart. Cut cap plates the same size as the sill plates and install them with panel adhesive and three 16d common nails driven through the tops of the caps and into the end of each wall stud. Check each stud with a level before nailing.



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