How to Build a Club Bar Part 2 of 5 Make the Aprons & Trim

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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

Make the Aprons and Trim

The decorative front aprons for this bar are made from 1/2"-thick MDF (medium-density fiberboard) panels that have a glossy black finish and are trimmed with strips of cherry arranged in a staggered ladder pattern. If you’re feeling ambitious, apply a genuine black lacquer finish. Or, you can come close to the black lacquer look with a quality satin or gloss jet black enamel paint. Either way, for the smoothest possible finish, cut and prepare the panels and spray on the black lacquer finish with an HVLP sprayer.

Step 2

Creating the Front Panels

Rip two sheets of 1/2" MDF to 42" wide and then trim them to length to make the bar front panels. Sand the edges to remove any saw marks. Then, apply primer to all faces and edges. When the primer dries, spray black lacquer or paint onto the front face and edges. If you do not have access to a good sprayer, use a paint roller with a short-nap sleeve.

Step 3

Preparing the Wood for Front Decor

After installation, the black aprons will be decorated with a grid made from strips of cherry. You can use dimensional 1 x 2 cherry for this, but you’ll save a lot of money and get better edges if you purchase random width cherry, then plane and joint it to thickness and rip it to width.

Step 4

Finishing the Front Decor

For the project shown here, you’ll need at least 40 lineal feet of stock for the apron trim, plus another 40 ft. for the bar countertop edging.
Sand the edges of the cherry trim to remove saw marks and smooth the surfaces. Apply a clear protective wood finish, such as wipe-on polyurethane varnish, to half the stock for use as apron trim. The other half of the stock will be used for edging the countertop. You’ll need to cut an edge profile in this stock and attach it to the countertop before finishing it.



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