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How we produce our designs: We use the powerful technology of 3D solids modeling to bring our customers the very best in Home Bar design. Our system enables us to produce accurate scale models to view and manipulate in a three dimensional environment. Every component is individually drawn as a fully machined "solid" part. Then, we assemble the parts "on screen" where they are examined from all directions to ensure proper fit and alignment. This 3D CAD advantage also helps us to determine the best method of assembly. We then make prototype samples from our preliminary drawings in our woodworking shop where all procedures and setups are tested and proven before final documentation. Finally, we convert our models into "3D exploded view" drawings showing machining details, dimensions and complete assembly instructions.

All PRECISION IMAGES DESIGN plans are thoroughly reviewed and checked for accuracy. Special design procedures are developed in our shop and prepared for final documentation. The photos below show the "Classic bar" top design being tested and proven in our shop.

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Our plans are complete, easy to follow and fully documented. All drawings are numbered for convenience. Construction details and assembly methods are illustrated in sequence. Assembly drawings and special details are illustrated in 3 Dimensions with all parts numbered.

Our Cutting diagrams (sample below) optimize material usage and help to reduce waste. Part numbers are provided to reference Cutting Lists and Assembly drawings.

 

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 From Basement to Bar Room

An article containing some helpful hints by Tom K, Precision Images Design Inc.

 

I actually built my bar about 20 years ago. It had survived many memorable parties. Like an old friend, my bar was always fun to be around and never let me down. So, when we made plans to move away, I just couldn't to leave the bar behind. I kept it stored in the basement for several years because our new location didn't have any place to put a bar. I finally got tired of seeing it wasting away all alone and made plans to give "my old friend" a make over and some new surroundings. Our bar is only 6 feet long, yet it can comfortable seat six adults; three in front, one on each end, and of course the bar tending host behind. The room measures only 12 feet wide, leaving 3 feet of space on each end. This has proven to be adequate even at full capacity. The bar top measures 72" x 25" and is 42 3/4" above the floor. The bartender’s side of the top is 38" from the back wall which is pretty much the minimum amount of space required. Our back wall cabinets are designed to get the most use out of the least amount of space. Building the cabinets on a 45 degree angle takes advantage of otherwise "dead" corner space.

Access to the cabinets is easy from any direction and the TV can be viewed from anywhere in the room. This design also provides a "showcase" effect making the bar the main focal point in the room. The joint efforts of my wife and I made this project a success. Together we transformed a cold dark basement into a warm and friendly gathering place. The following pages show how our bar room project advanced from one stage to the next. I have tried to include information that might be helpful to others who plan to tackle a similar project.

Planning the Bar room -

There were a few things we had to consider when planning our bar room. As is the case with many older homes, the builder never intended for our basement level to be converted to living space. The head clearance was only 6'-6" from the bottoms of our shoes to the bottoms of the beams. There were 3" x 10" air ducts in the upper corners of the walls that we had to work into the plan. Our basement is about 2/3 below grade, so there is a window right where I didn't want one. Also, since we would use this room primarily for entertaining, we wanted to be sure that the lighting we installed would be easy on the eyes while completely illuminating the room. We had already partitioned off this space (roughly 12 x 17 feet) for our bar room. Since this is a relatively small area we didn't want to sacrifice any more usable space than necessary. Studding out the walls and paneling over would mean a loss of at least 3" (using 2 x 3 studs) on each wall. We decided to use knotty pine boards (1 x 6 tongue & groove) and secure them to the walls using horizontal 1 x 3 furring strips screwed to the cinder block walls. This way, we only lost 1 1/2" on each wall. There were a few basic amenities I wanted to include in the design that were not part of the bar itself:

  • A small TV that could be viewed from anywhere in the room 
  • An open wine rack for corked wines 
  • A compact fridge for beer and soda that could make frosted mugs in the summer 
  • A glass door display cabinet for fancy glassware and souvenirs 
  • A bar sink to rinse out cans and bottles for recycling 
  • A long narrow shelf on the back wall for mixers, steins and collectibles 

We began the project as shown in the photo below. The first thing to do was to install the main room lighting. We chose contractor grade recessed light fixtures (often called Hi-Hats because of their cylindrical shape and collar). These are designed to be installed between rafters making them the easiest to deal with for us. They are also relatively cheap! They can be nailed or screwed into the rafters and are adjustable in EVERY direction. The ones we bought came with clear and accurate instructions making wiring easy. We found that even with our low ceiling, a spacing between the fixtures of 5 to 6 feet and a distance of about 3 feet from each wall provided good lighting in the room. We used a total of 5 fixtures (4 in the main area and 1 at the bottom of the stairway) each with a 65 watt reflector flood lamp. A rotary style dimmer provided accurate lighting control. 

 

In order to design my back bar corner cabinets accurately, I had to have the actual components that I was going to install. I had a small television that I wanted to use and bought some pre-made lattice for the wine rack. I bought a compact fridge and a drop-in stainless steel bar sink from one of the Home Center chain stores. After roughing-in wiring for convenience outlets, I built the skeleton for the refrigerator enclosure with a small wine rack and TV shelf mounted above. This way, I could mount the outlets for the TV and fridge and wire them in to the system. The far right corner of the photo below shows the base for the corner cabinet that would house the bar sink. I installed 1 x 3 furring strips horizontally across the walls on about 24" vertical centers. I wanted these furring strips to be somewhat adjustable (in and out) because the walls were quite uneven and needed to be shimmed so that the knotty pine planks would sit flat when nailed in place. Since the walls are made of cinder block, I used a "hammer drill " with a 1/4" masonry bit to make the holes for the screw anchors. I used 2 1/2" galvanized deck screws to hold the furring in place.

With a vertical straight edge, I backed off the screws where necessary to make the strips even with one another and placed tapered shims behind to keep them in place. As I mentioned before, the basement is below ground level so we stapled plastic sheeting over the furring strips to provide a vapor barrier. This can prevent unwanted moisture from forming on the inside surfaces of the finished wall during extreme weather conditions or sudden changes in outside temperature and humidity.

 

The Refrigerator enclosure -

We bought a 2 1/2 cubic foot mid-size compact refrigerator from Home Depot for a little over $100. It carries the "Magic Chef" logo name plate and actually looks pretty decent. It works well and is VERY quiet. This type of refrigerator is not really meant to be "built-in" because of the way the refrigeration system works. First of all there are no fans used on the inside or the outside of the unit. The condenser coil (which is the part of the refrigeration system that transfers the heat from the inside of the box to the outside) is bonded to the outer shell (on the inside surface where the insulation is) thereby warming the outside of the cabinet. You must allow for air circulation around the outside of the refrigerator or you run the risk of not being able to remove the heat quickly enough. This can cause the compressor to work harder than it should causing it to overheat and possibly burn out prematurely. This is why we used only a skeleton type frame where the refrigerator will be placed. There should be at least 1/2" of space around the front of the fridge and the sides of the cabinet should not be against a solid panel. The top of our enclosure will be open above the drop ceiling to allow the heat to be dissipated. The refrigerator will sit on the 6" high platform to provide easier access to the interior. The platform also gives more strength to the assembly. The structure will be held in place by the tongue and groove knotty pine panels.

The wine rack is 12" deep and is nothing but a box made from whatever materials we had on hand except of course we bought standard wine rack lattice and shoe moldings to hold it in place. Our wine rack measures 18" x 18". You need two pieces of lattice. One at the front and one about 2/3 of the way in to hold up the bottles. They're both cut the same so that the necks of the bottles will tilt forward slightly when on display. The TV shelf is just a “housing” with a back panel. The back panel provides a place to mount outlets for the TV and the fridge.

 

Wet Bar Sink cabinet:

This area was a little more of a challenge than the refrigerator enclosure because of the existing ductwork that you can see in the photo to the right. I needed to leave room for the square transition duct that would be above the display cabinet and at the same time not interfere with the round supply duct which could not be relocated due to the support beam. I had to do a lot of measuring and make quite a few sketches to pull this one off. To prove out my drawings, I made the bottom shelf (base) of the cabinet and set it in place loosely on the floor. This defined exactly where I had to put the furring strips that the finished assembly would be screwed into. I checked my drawings and dimensions one last time.

When I was convinced my drawings were accurate, I built the entire corner cabinet in sub-assemblies on the workbench. I assembled the Tongue & Groove side panels first. They're held together by the 1 x 2 strips under the sink top. Next, I screwed the sink top in from the back side of the T & G. Then, the base was screwed into the ends of the T & G from the bottom. 

The upper display cabinet housing (at left) is constructed of medium density fiberboard (MDF). The back panel for the housing is "bead board". I chose MDF because it's a very stable material that doesn't warp, it takes paint fairly well and it's cheap! We painted the assembly and attached the door hardware and lighting before mounting it to the main cabinet. After adding the remaining tongue & groove parts to the cabinet, it was just a matter of mounting the sink, cutting the holes for plumbing lines and mounting the doors. I purchased the cabinet doors for this part of the project rather than make them myself.

As you can see in the photo below, the cabinet fit perfectly into the corner. We used 120 volt "puck" style lights (the type often used in kitchen cabinets). There is one in the display cabinet and one over the sink area. Both are recessed into the panels for a neat appearance and so that there are no exposed wires. Both lights are controlled by a dimmer switch because these 20 watt halogen lights are quite bright at full power.

If you are going to have a bar sink in your basement make sure you have a convenient drain connection low enough to provide proper drainage; or consider using a sink pump system (if permitted by your local plumbing codes).

 

Completed refrigerator and wine rack cabinet above: 

 

The 45 degree corner sections of the cabinet were assembled on the work bench. They are held at the proper angle by 45 degree wooden brackets on the inside. The two end panel assemblies were then nailed to the cabinet frame and to the furring strips to hold the cabinet in place. To complete the cabinet, I lined the inside walls of the TV shelf with knotty pine.

After the corner cabinets were completely installed, the next step was to build soffit panels that would hide the ductwork and support the drop ceiling angles. We left a 1" high apron along the front edge of the soffit so that we could install "rope lighting" around the room. The vertical parts of the soffit sections are 1 x 6 pine boards with a dado groove 1" up from the bottom edge to accept the horizontal panels. The horizontal panels are just 3/16" plywood glued into the dado grooves. The back end of the soffit panels is supported by the furring strips while the fronts are attached to the beams with 1 x 1 metal angle clips above the drop ceiling.

I nailed the Knotty pine wall boards in place (using a nail gun of course) keeping the bottom edges about 1 1/2" above the concrete floor. Since the floor is below ground level it is always possible that during an extreme rain some water might get in to the room. Keeping the cross cut ends away from the floor will prevent the wood from "wicking" or soaking up water that could stain and even ruin the walls. The baseboards cover the space and can easily be removed and refinished should they get wet. We used "commercial" carpeting which is like "indoor/outdoor" except that it is more durable and usually offers a better color selection. This carpeting can easily be lifted if it gets wet and will not be damaged by water. There is no padding used with this type of carpet.

The knot board (shown above) is hanging over a hinged panel that both covers and provides access to the basement window mentioned before.

Refinishing the Bar: 

As I mentioned before, I built this bar many years ago so at this point I only needed to do some restoration work on it. I originally designed the bar with a "wooden step" foot rest to provide stability and eliminate the need for a brass foot rail. When I added the rail I was surprised to see how good the rail and step looked together. After being in storage for several years the bar looked to be in worse shape than it actually was. The wood was a bit dried out and of course the brass rail was somewhat tarnished. The base and midsection only needed to be cleaned and coated with lemon oil. We found it best to remove the brass rail and brackets for polishing. The top had become kind of dull looking and had some scratches and other damage due to rough handling. I had to use some wood filler in spots but there are some fairly good stainable wood filler products available for this purpose. I found that no matter which brand you use, its best to follow the label directions exactly. After the filler was dry I took the old finish down using steel wool. I never use sandpaper except on unfinished bare wood. I started with course, then medium, then finished with fine steel wool. I didn't try to take off all of the old finish because I was going to be using the same finish as I originally used. I just wanted to make sure I took enough off so that the stain would penetrate the fibers of the wood.

 

I prefer the liquid stains (Minwax brand) as opposed to the gel type. In my experience the liquid stains are easier to apply, soak in faster and never leave streaks as gel stains sometimes do. My technique is to apply the stain with a soaked piece of rag (about 6" x 6") over the wood as many times as is necessary keeping it wet until the wood no longer absorbs any stain. While still somewhat wet, I wipe as much of the excess stain from the wood as possible using an old but clean terry cloth towel. After the stain is completely dry, usually after a couple of days (when I can no longer smell it) I apply at least two coats of Minwax Tung Oil Finish. I do not rub the finish in. I apply it with a small square (about 2" x 3") of 1" thick foam rubber. It holds the liquid well, spreads it evenly, and I don't have to clean any brushes. I wait for each coat to be thoroughly dry before applying the next. I always get a very glossy and deep looking hard surface finish.

For maximum stability it is usually best to attach a free standing bar like this one to the floor so that it cannot be accidentally pulled over by a small child (or perhaps an overactive guest).

Normally, it would be best to secure the base to the floor from the inside using metal angle brackets. You can shim the base if necessary from the understructure and then screw it to the floor from the inside. You might then have your carpet installer run the carpet up to the base of the bar. In our case, we were installing the bar in the basement on a concrete floor. I wanted the carpet to run under the bar to help keep the carpet from shifting or creeping and I also wanted to avoid seams. I didn't want the carpet glued down in case we had to peel it back for some reason. The day before the carpet was to be installed (and when I knew exactly where I wanted the bar to be) I marked off the location on the concrete and moved the bar out of the room. I bolted two pieces of 2x4 lumber to the floor, one at each end of the base on the inside. The carpet installer cut out the carpet around the 2x4s and I screwed the base in from the ends as you can see in the photo at left.

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