MAKE A BACKYARD BAR USING PALLETS
Let me be up front: other than simple projects I made in eighth-grade shop class, this is my first time building anything. I am sure there are better, more advanced ways to do this, but this was easy and something that you can do, too! Wanting to do this on a very small budget, I used reclaimed pallet boards. The first step took the longest – finding the perfect boards.
Next, I had to find a pallet that was the same height to use for the sides of the bar. I ended up needing two, which I determined through good old-fashioned trial and error. If I cut one pallet in half, the sides would be too short, and if I combined two uncut ones, the sides would be too long. I found two identical pallets that were the proper height. The cross boards on these pallets aren’t as thick as those on the front pallet, but it isn’t noticeable unless you look closely.
I measured the two pallets to the desired width of 2’ and cut off the extra. (I used the offcuts to make a neat little shelf that I incorporated into the bar area.) I placed the cut ends of each side pallet toward the front of the bar and attached them using deck screws, which I had an extra box of in my garage. Although it didn’t feel very sturdy, I assumed that attaching the top would reinforce the structure.
We happened to have an old wooden shelf in our garage that was 65" long and 17 1/2" wide; we decided to use that for the top of the front pallet. I measured for a nice overhang of 8" to allow for sitting at the bar. I did have to buy wood for the tops of the sides to get the U-shape I wanted. I cut that purchased board in half to form two 17 1/2" long by 9 1/2" wide boards. I matched it up with the front bar top and attached it with screws through the top, making sure to secure it to a board. The side overhang was 4".
Once I secured the top, the structure was very solid, as anticipated. After sanding down all the parts that needed it, I wiped the bar down and began staining. I used a paint brush, but I know some prefer a cloth. I liked using the brush on such a big surface. I stained one of the shelves the same color, using about three coats. I finished the bar top with a coating of Varathane to create a washable surface. Last summer, I cleaned it so much using antibacterial wipes that some of the Varathane lifted. This year, I will have to reapply it or I might even put an epoxy on top.
While waiting for the finish to dry, we decided to build a small patio for the bar to sit on. We dug and leveled the area and laid the stones.
We moved the bar on to the patio, ordered two stylish stools and put it all together. We also added a bottle opener on the side, which has really come in handy. As for the shelf, it holds bottles very well.
After making the pallet bar and feeling so proud of myself, I used more of the pallets to make a standing pub table for the bar area, a work bench, a garden bench, a vine climber and a storage rack for hockey sticks. All you need to do is search pallet-board ideas on the Internet and endless (and often inexpensive) projects will appear.
Text and photos by Cheryl McCleary