How do I make my own bar?
Having a bar in your garden is becoming ever more popular, as people look to exciting ways to entertain family and friends outdoors. You can convert a shed, modify a decking area, or have a bar specially installed. From tiki bars to cocktail bars via shabby chic gin bars, there’s no shortage of inspiration available to get you into the party mood.
This guide details how to build a garden bar from scratch, and is specifically written to go with the Wickes Build Your Own Garden Bar https://www.wickes.co.uk/Wicke..., which provides you with all the timber you need. This guide tells you how to make the timber frames, clad the panels, and assemble the bar complete with bar tops and fascias.
When fully assembled, our garden bar has a traditional pent roof and measures 2.4m at its highest point. The bar is 1.8m wide and 1.2m deep.
Make sure your timber is dry before you build the bar, and try to plan ahead so you build it in dry weather. Working with wet treated wood can cause major shrinkage, warping and cracks later on. The timber used for this project is pressure treated for enhanced performance against rot and decay.
We recommend wearing protective goggles and heavy duty gloves when using the mitre saw or drill. The cladded panels will be heavy once they’re built, so we recommend having somebody to help with lifting, and assembly of the shed.
Planning your garden bar
It’s important to choose the right site – select an area that has a level surface with good ground conditions, ideally away from overhanging trees. Consider whether you’d like your bar to be in full sun or shade. Suitable surfaces for your bar include concrete, patio stone, decking, and wooden or plastic shed bases.
Choose a space that will allow at least 2ft of surrounding space on all sides. This will allow your timber to breathe, and also ensure you’re able to access the panels for future treatment and repair.
Ensure your workstation and mitre saw are close to the area of construction. Then you can stack your timber close by in separate piles.
Cutting the timber for the bar frames
Start by consulting the cutting list enclosed with the Build Your Own Bar. This list details all the timber and all the cuts you need to make for the bar, and we refer to it regularly throughout this guide.
Cut all of the 44 x 44mm timbers needed for each frame to their required lengths. Stack the timber as you cut and apply a coat of wood preserver to the cut ends. Store the cut lengths for each frame in separate piles.
Ensure your workbench and chop saw are close to the area of construction for ease. Once you’re set up, stack your timber close by in separate piles.
Assembling the bar frames
Before you start building it’s a good idea to dry lay each frame on the ground to check that the timber has been measured and cut correctly and matches the instructions. To help prevent the timber from splitting, drill pilot holes 22mm from the end of each length. Drill right through the timber so there’s an exit hole as well.
Working on one frame at a time, lay the cut lengths flat on your workbench and butt the corners together. Hold the lengths in place and screw together using the 80mm wood screws. Make sure the joint remains flush, and that the screw heads are countersunk, i.e. sunk into the timber. Then repeat this process for all of the frames.
To fix the cross brace in place, measure and mark the centre point of opposing outer lengths, drill a pilot hole and partially attach with a screw fixed halfway into the wood.
Lay the frame flat on your workbench and position the cross brace so it’s correctly aligned, then finish driving the screws in, making sure the heads are countersunk. You might find it easier with larger frames to stand them on the ground and drill down into the lengths instead.
Check that your frame is square and that the corners joints are set at 90 degrees by measuring the frame diagonally from corner to corner. If your frames are square the measurements will be equal.
Use this process to build the front, roof, and larger side frame. The smallest side frame does not require a cross brace.
Cutting the feather edge and decking boards for cladding
Referring to the cutting list, and cut all of the 25 x 120mm deck boards to length in one session. Stack the boards and apply wood preserver to the cut ends.
Next cut the 11 x 50mm feather edge boards to length, and treat the cut ends with wood preserver.
Cutting the timber posts for your bar
Take four of the 75 x 75mm timber fence posts, and referring to the cutting list, measure and mark a 15 degree cutting angle at the appropriate lengths. This creates a sloping edge for the roof to sit on.
Set your mitre saw and adjustable bevel to 15 degrees, then cut the four posts to length. Treat the cut ends with wood preserver. If your mitre saw is too small to completely cut through the timber, you can finish the cut using a universal saw.
The fifth post that is attached to the bar entrance doesn’t require an angled cut. Measure, mark, and cut this to length and treat the cut end with wood preserver.
Cladding the frames with decking boards
Lay a frame flat on your workbench ready for cladding. Starting at one end, place the first deck board onto the frame. Ensure that the corner of the deck board is flush with the corner of the frame.
Holding the deck board securely, drill two pilot holes at each end of the board and one in the centre cross brace. Then secure with 64mm deck screws.
Continue cladding the frame with the cut deck boards until the entire frame is covered. Then repeat this process for both side frames and the front frame.
Preparing the frames for assembly
To prepare the cladded frames for assembly with the posts, drill pilot holes and partially insert 80mm wood screws at the inside corner of each frame. These screws will be used later to fix the posts to the frames.
Screw the smallest length of 75 x 75mm post to the right entrance panel.
Cladding the roof panel with feather edge boards
Starting at one end of the roof frame, lay the first length of 11 x 150mm feather edge fence board with a 20mm overhang. Screw through the thickest part of the board with 4 x 40mm wood screws.
Lay the next feather board down so that its thickest edge overlaps the first board. Use a 100mm long spacer to determine the position of each board and overlap. Then use 40mm wood screws to secure the board at each end and into the centre cross brace. Make sure you’re screwing through both boards into the frame. Repeat this process until the frame is completely clad.
Assembling your garden bar
To start assembling the bar, move the back panel and posts into position. The cladded panels will be heavy, so it’s best to have somebody to help you with lifting and keeping the panels steady in position.
Screw the first medium length post onto the back panel using the 80mm wood screws that you partially screwed in earlier.
Screw the longer side panel to the back panel post. Make sure the cut angle on the post slopes in the right direction, i.e. towards the rear.
Now the frame is temporarily secure, screw the second medium length post to the other side of the back panel. Again make sure that the cut angle slopes towards the rear of the bar.
Next secure the first longer post to the front of the side panel.
Now move the front panel into place, and secure to the longer front post with the 80mm wood screws that you partially screwed in earlier. Then attach the other longer front post to the front panel.
Finally, screw in the right hand entrance panel to the longer front post.
With assistance, lift the finished roof panel onto the bar, so that it rests neatly on the posts and slopes towards the rear. Secure the roof to each of the posts using 80mm wood screws. The outer framework of your bar is now complete, and you can start adding the interiors and fascias.
Making and fitting the bar brackets
Adjust your mitre saw to a 45 degree angle and take a length of the 45 x 95mm timber. Measure across the width of the timber and mark 20mm in from the edge. Then cut the corner off at 45 degrees, making the cut between your mark and the opposite edge.
Reset the mitre saw to 90 degrees. Measure 125mm from the top of the longest side of the length. Cut across the full width of the timber to make a bracket. Repeat this process to make ten brackets in total.
Once all the brackets have been cut, drill a pilot hole into the 45 degree face of each bracket, and treat the cut ends with wood preservative.
Take six brackets and screw each one to the outside edge of each one of the posts using 80mm wood screws. Screw a seventh bracket in the centre of the front panel. Make sure these brackets line up flush with the top of the panels. Your brackets are now in place for two side worktops and a front worktop.
Measuring and cutting the bar worktops
The worktops are made by attaching 25 x 120mm deck boards to the sides and front of the bar, so you will need to measure certain parts of your bar.
- To make the front worktop measure the bar width from the outside edge of external post to external post.
- For the two side worktops measure from the back edge of the back posts to the front edge of the front posts, and add the width of the front worktop.
- For the three internal worktops measure from inner post to inner post on the front and both sides.
Cut six deck boards to the appropriate lengths, then adjust the mitre saw to 45 degrees.
The two side worktops need to have outward facing angled corners at both ends. Measure and then mark the centre point at both ends of each length, then make a 45 degree cut from this centre point to the outer edge. Treat the cut ends with wood preserver.
Fitting the bar worktops and shelf
With the decking board grooves facing down, screw all of your bar worktops into place using 64mm decking screws.
To create a shelf for the back panel of the bar, measure the internal width of the back panel, then cut a 25 x 120mm deck board to length. Fix the two of the remaining three brackets to both edges of the panel, at your preferred height, making sure they are level with each other.
Secure the shelf to the brackets with 80mm wood screws. Fix the last bracket in place under the centre of the shelf.
Cutting and fitting the bar fascias
To create a roof fascia, measure the width of the front of the roof, and cut a 25 x 120mm deck board to size. Screw this into the front posts at either end using 64mm decking screws. The grooves of the board should be on the inside, and the top edge of the board should hide the feather edge boards.
For the side fascias, measure from the front fascia to the back of the roof frame. Adjust the mitre saw to 15 degrees and cut two lengths of deck board to size. Make sure your 15 degree cuts at either end are parallel with each other.
Screw these fascias onto the side of the roof frame so that the grooves are on the inside. Ensure that the front edge has a neat butt joint with the front fascia, and that the top edge conceals the feather edge boards.
To make the bottom fascias, measure the front and side widths of the cladded bar panels. Reset the mitre saw to 90 degrees and cut three deck boards to length. Secure to the bar with 64mm decking screws, making sure that the side lengths have neat butt joints with the front length.
Garden bar ideas
Having a garden bar is a great opportunity to get creative and create an outstanding garden feature. You can use exterior wood paints and treatments to brighten up your bar and protect it from the elements.
- Once the timber has acclimatised and is fully dry, give the bar a good wipe down before you treat the timber. Make sure there’s no moss, leaves, or dirt on the wood.
- The best time to apply treatments or paint is following a dry spell and when the weather forecast looks clear for a few days.
- If you choose to stain, oil or varnish your shed, choose a quality treatment, which will provide long lasting protection. Our How To Guide tells you all you need to know about applying varnish, stains and oils.
- Choose clear treatments to enhance the natural look of your wood and provide a traditional finish.
- If you choose to paint your bar then apply a good quality primer first. Once the primer is dry then apply several coats of your chosen paint using a timber brush or an exterior paint sprayer.
Garden bar inspiration
Now your garden bar is built and treated, you can decorate it however you like. You can choose a theme, add interior accessories such as signs or a clock, or decorate the bar for special occasions such as birthday parties.
- Hang pom poms, balloons and lanterns, and fill the bar with fresh fruits, treats, flower garlands, bubbles and hula hoops for a fun tiki-themed children’s party.
- Add a cool box with plenty of ice, citrus slices, your favourite tipples and mixers, and stock the bar with snacks for a great garden party pit stop.
- Lay out rugs and cushions, hang fairy lights in your trees, put on your party playlist and have a mini-festival in your garden at the weekend. Turn your bar into a buffet snack stop with salad bowls, BBQ bites, a few beers and a punch bowl.
- Add luscious plants and vibrant hanging baskets, fill up a paddling pool, find your garden games, and stock up on ice cream for a summer family play day.
- Add gently glowing string lights, fragrant candles or potted plants, and some cushions and nibbles for an evening’s relaxation.