Another bar build - Speakeasy style

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FloppyKnockers

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Hello all. I bought a house about a year ago and there was a little odd space off the living room that was dimly lit and otherwise useless for anything I would need so I threw the kegerator there, stacked some milk crates around for shelves, and hung some crap on the walls while I got to other more pressing repairs and updates in the house.

PANO_20171118_142715.jpg


The time has come and I need to get the crates out and actually design a proper bar area. The wife and I were talking about different design ideas and all of them included "yeah, and don't forget the lights. It's like a little dungeon over here". There's where inspiration hit. If it's dark anyway, let's exploit that. That's where the idea for a speakeasy style bar was born.

We have a rough plan and will play most of the design by ear, but there are some things that we want. Industrial/basement/back room feel, distressed timber, brick, period lighting, and just an overall cool look. I'm open to suggestions, so if you have one just shout it out.

I'm a really proficient cabinet maker/woodworker, but there are going to be some firsts for me. 1) distressing. I have no experience with distressing wood. If I replicate an antique, I will make it look like the day the antique was built. I have used reclaimed lumber, but never made new look old. 2) Staining. Not a fan. If I want something to look like walnut, I will build it out of walnut. I have done some dying before on guitars, picture frames, etc. so I get it, but outside of my comfort zone.

Let's get started.... The floor had to go. I hate Pergo (my dog hates it more - no brakes, no traction). Tore that up and put in some leftover Brazilian Koa from a previous job. I figured wood floors is a big 1920s thing so it fits.


2018-01-25_14-35-51.jpg



Up next is building some cabinets, shelving options, & decide on lighting.

More to come.
 
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FloppyKnockers

FloppyKnockers

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Working on this over the weekend, I got the faux beams all finished. It wasn't as hard as I thought, but wasn't as easy either. It's not just a matter of beating the hell out of some wood then "ta da"....looks old. I actually had to put some though into it.

The top beam is the biggest (8x8). This will hold the wiring for the lights. The smaller beam (6x6) will act as a shelf. I started by mitering all the joined edges and corners and gluing up.

beam glue-up.jpg


After that all dried I began the distressing. I used pictures of railroad ties for reference. Although the ends were made of face grain I did my best to make it look like end grain. I used a combination of screwdriver, awl, hammers, reciprocating saw, razors, and files/rasps to get the look I was going for.

distress2.jpg


After I was happy with the distressing I applied the first coat of stain. I chose ebony to get the best contrast I could.

beams.jpg


After the ebony I applied two coats of dark walnut.

beams2.jpg


I then applied two coats of satin poly and will let it dry for a couple days. After that I will wire the large beam for lights and install it. Anybody have any good ideas for lighting? Something 1920's-ish that would go with the whole theme.

While I'm waiting on this I think I'll start building the cabinets.
 
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FloppyKnockers

FloppyKnockers

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Also could use some input on the bar top. I'm throwing around oak plank, poured epoxy, or copper.
 

gromitdj

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Those beams look fantastic. If you are going industrial, why not go with a stained concrete top and some lights similar to these...
il_570xN.896909115_fh9o.jpg

While those are a little pricey (listed at $369), it looks like you have the skill to build some pretty inexpensively.
 
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FloppyKnockers

FloppyKnockers

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Those beams look fantastic. If you are going industrial, why not go with a stained concrete top and some lights similar to these...
While those are a little pricey (listed at $369), it looks like you have the skill to build some pretty inexpensively.
Concrete is another great option. I've done it before and not afraid to do it again. I'll have to run that by the missus to see what she thinks.

I love the lights! I've been suffering from tunnel vision. I could only think of sconces and rope light.
 

Zimm9

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I love the way the beams turned out! Might be stealing that when I'm ready to build.

I was just in a bar this weekend that had an industrial decor and they used lights like gromitdj posted.
 
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FloppyKnockers

FloppyKnockers

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Do you have access to an architectural salvage yard? You might look there for industrial type lights and fixtures.
Great idea, man! There is "Aurara Mills Architectural Salvage" down the freeway from me that I've been to a couple times for reclaimed lumber. Lots of other cool stuff too. I will check them out.
 

charger

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With that distressed wood, it seems the black iron is the way to go. Taps are easy enough with black iron, railings, footrests, shelving, etc. can be pieced with black iron for a nice look.
 

charger

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Also, you probably know this, but those glass lighting fixtures are old glass insulators that can be had for rather cheap on eBay.
 

ericbw

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Not sure what your using for a foot rest, but if you go the black iron rout, this looks good on a beam like yours, just don't use above the beam. you could even use mason jars for light covers (or anything you can get a light in).

View attachment 555669
That’s cool!
 

aces-n-eights

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The beams look great - good job! I have been thinking of using pennies in my dream bar. How about gluing pennies to a bar top and then pouring epoxy to fill the voids between the coins. My thought is the copper will wear and grow a nice patina over time.

Thanks for sharing - looking forward to how this project goes.
 
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FloppyKnockers

FloppyKnockers

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The beams look great - good job! I have been thinking of using pennies in my dream bar. How about gluing pennies to a bar top and then pouring epoxy to fill the voids between the coins. My thought is the copper will wear and grow a nice patina over time.

Thanks for sharing - looking forward to how this project goes.
Thanks, man. I had the same though about the pennies. Unfortunately, the pennies wouldn't patina after you seal them with epoxy. You'd have to arrange them in some sort of pattern before pouring. There's some cool work on the Google if you're inclined to search.

If copper is what you're looking for, I found basiccopper.com has a bunch of pre-patina'd sheets. Decent prices too.
 

ancientmariner52

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Be careful about using pennies. The current versions are zinc, with a few microns of copper plating. If you wear through the copper you'll have an ugly mess.

There used to be a seafood restaurant in Dardanelle, AR, where all the tables were covered with copper. My kids quickly discovered that you could draw bright copper lines with a finger and lemon juice. The bare copper re-tarnished so fast that the marks were nearly gone by the end of our meal. This has nothing to do with anything, just thought it was cool.
 

mj1angier

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I like your set-up. How are you insulating the space between the fridge and the counter top? Are you using a tower cooler?
I took some pvc and made an extension from the top of fridge to bottom of bar top. Then just wrapped it about 4 times with reflex insulation
I have a pc fan in both to push cool air up the tower
 

aces-n-eights

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Thanks, man. I had the same though about the pennies. Unfortunately, the pennies wouldn't patina after you seal them with epoxy. You'd have to arrange them in some sort of pattern before pouring. There's some cool work on the Google if you're inclined to search.

If copper is what you're looking for, I found basiccopper.com has a bunch of pre-patina'd sheets. Decent prices too.
Good point, i was in a restaurant years ago and the bar area used pennies on the floor. They had worn to a pretty cool patina - i thought, anyway - maybe they used older pennies...

Thanks for the link to basic copper.
 
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Update: I got the beams installed and thanks to the input of @gromitdj @ancientmariner52 @Konadog & @SCfb75 I got the lights done too. I went with mini pendants with antique brass lamp holders and very amber Edison bulbs. They are powered by the water valve converted into a switch in the black iron pipe. Master Chief and Sargent Avery are guarding the beer.

IMG_20180131_180342.jpg


I really like how @mj1angier added more taps when doing his build. Since my fridge can hold three cornies, and while I'm at it, I'm going to move the CO2 outside and add a third tap.

This weekend I will work more on the cabinets and maybe start design work on the tower.
 

gromitdj

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Looking good! And I'm more convinced that stained concrete counters are the way to go now.

Something like this...
ConcreteCounter1.jpg
 
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FloppyKnockers

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I got busy with the cabinet this weekend. It was a lot of hurry up and wait for things to dry so I didn't get it quite finished. While waiting I got to work on the new tap box. I couldn't make up my mind if I wanted to do an iron pipe or coffin box style - so I did both. I got even more practice at distressing. I didn't go too crazy though. Just enough to make it look old. I took more pictures this time around too.

Here's the top in its stages...
Cut to size with some edge treatment.
bar8.jpg


A couple cracks, wormholes, dings, and easing the edge a bit.
bar7.jpg


One coat of Dark Walnut stain.
bar6.jpg


A little bit of work with hand sanding to take down some wear spots and aging, then another coat of Dark Walnut.
bar5.jpg


Finally a little more hand sanding in the more heavily worn areas followed by a coat of Colonial Maple to lower the contrast. Here's the full box.
bar4.jpg


Now to do some assembly, drilling some holes, some satin finish, and cutting some insulating foam.
bar10.jpg


All the foam was a really tight fit to minimize any leakage. The piece on the shank wall had holes drilled and countersunk for the nuts. Drilling this foam is a nightmare. The bits don't want to center and the foam wants to shred. I found a drill press and sandwiching the foam between some scrap wood really helped.

After the shanks were installed, carpet tape was used to hold all the foam in place. The lid foam was epoxied in place on the lid. The center hole will be insulated with pipe wrap.
bar3.jpg


Nothing special with iron pipe. Thread it together and screw it on. A coat of paste wax will keep it from rusting.
bar11.jpg


I'm all about the cabinet for the next few days. I will update when I get it done.
 

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Wall needs wallpaper. Cool stuff. Eventually I'll do something in my basement...
 
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Update: I finally got the main cabinet done. Waiting for stain to dry is like watching paint dry, just not as fun. As I said before, I don't stain things so this was educational for me. I don't distress things either, so this definitely had its challenges.

I used Sande plywood because of the look of the grain. It has a tendency to chip and splinter because of its voids so taping your cut line and using a fine-tooth blade is vital. Stain really does make the grain 'pop'.
IMG_20180203_153621.jpg

All the pieces of the cabinet (except the inside) got two coats of Dark Walnut, some sanding the wear parts, a coat of Colonial Maple, then satin clear. These wine bottle shelves really showcase the different layers.

IMG_20180204_105031.jpg


Here's the assembled cabinet ready for more stain.
IMG_20180205_172955.jpg


The face frames were made from poplar and stained in the same manner.
IMG_20180208_173722.jpg


The doors are made from a couple pieces of leftover plywood, framed, and panel moulding attached.
IMG_20180209_193428.jpg


The door were then stained and distressed. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the doors. The left one has just stain. The right has been distressed.
IMG_20180210_085443.jpg


A coat of finish later they are done. I chose handles that look like iron pipe to match the tower and light switch.
IMG_20180211_131836.jpg


Here's the finished cabinet.
IMG_20180211_131747.jpg


This week I learned a couple things.
1) I hate staining.
2) The fumes from stain will be sucked into your gas dryer (even though your dryer is not in your shop) and burn. Out near the exhaust it will smell like charcoal lighter fluid. The next day at work your clothes you will smell like kerosene.

Up next I am going to work on the other cabinet that will house the CO2 tank. I was going to do something that matched the main cabinet, but am having second thoughts.
 
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FloppyKnockers

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Got the gas line run last night in preparation for the CO2 cabinet. I started with a 1/8" exploratory hole on the inside just to probe around for lines. I then used a 1/2" bit to enlarge the hole. Lastly, I used a step bit to get the final diameter (9/16") of the inner and outer shell. This allows the 9/16" gas line to move through the plastic and metal without damage and let the foam insulation hug the line.

Then it was just a matter of mounting the manifold with some double-sided tape and the shortest screws I could find.

gas1.jpg
gas2.jpg
 
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FloppyKnockers

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I got the CO2 cabinet done and I've got to say I even impressed myself. It came out way better than I imagined it.

Instead of duplicating the looks of the big cabinet I decided to do something a little more thematic. After a little R&D I designed a cabinet that looks like a stack of old wooden beer crates. Like my tap handles, I took logos of fictitious beers and image transferred them to the front of the crates. (Bonus points if you can name the show/movie they come from).

IMG_20180215_164840.jpg

Each crate got its own design to create the look of four different crates. Here's a mock-up before the stain and finish.
IMG_20180215_201832.jpg


After all the stain and finish they got some faux hardware and attached to the cabinet box. Here's the final result.

videotogif_2018.02.17_11.19.22.gif


The end is in sight. I'll update soon.
 
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FloppyKnockers

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Got to the counter top yesterday. The wife was voting for copper, I was voting for concrete... I lost 1-1. So copper it is. Got a roll of 10 mil from basiccopper.com. I've done laminate counters in the past, but nothing like this. It was like extremely heavy tin foil. I managed to get it glued in place and folded over the edges and must say it looks pretty sweet. We went with raw, untreated copper so it will age naturally. It should take about 4 months to start looking like an old penny taking all the spills, glass circles, dents, and scratches with it along the way.

baar6.jpg
 

deprecated

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Awesome counter top! Where did you get the material for it?

I'm clumsy enough that if you invite me over for a drink I'll probably unintentionally spill it and accelerate the aging process.
 
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FloppyKnockers

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Awesome counter top! Where did you get the material for it?

I'm clumsy enough that if you invite me over for a drink I'll probably unintentionally spill it and accelerate the aging process.
3/4" substrate. I just did pine plywood. It doesn't matter the species, it just has to be flat. MDF would work fine too. Cut the counter to size then add some 1 1/2" strips to build up the edge.

Weldwood contact cement. The same stuff you use for laminate counter tops. On the can and the DAP website it says not to use it on copper, but everything I've read says that people use it and never have a problem.

The copper. My copper is from basiccopper.com. it's a 3' x 7' - 10 mil roll. I wouldn't go any thinner. My roll is "dead soft" which means it is susceptible to dents and scratches. That's okay and frankly preferred in my circumstance. I want it to get beat up a bit. If I wanted spotless and pristine I would go with roofing copper which is thicker and half or full hard.

You have a standing invitation. Come help me age this thing. :mug:
 

TwistedGray

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Very neat build out and skilled. My FIL does wood distressing as a profession, and it's surely an art form. Job well done!
 
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Jtk78

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That CO2 cabinet is out of this world. Great build so far.
 
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