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Building a bar using stock cabinets/bartop

Millwright Guy's picture

The plan: A home wet bar, eight foot long with a small "L" on one end, finished around two sides with Chicago bar rail. Built on/over stock 36" kitchen base cabinets. My question/problem is with the overhangs. At 10" on the room side, I would have 8"+/- on the sink side, if I built a 4" drink rail on a 16" top. There would only be 4 1/2" +/- between the underside of the top and the top of the base counter. And it would cover a third of the sink/drink prep area. What dimension is missing? How are people making a "standard" 42" high bar and a 16" top and still having a sink? Thank you, Joe

Mill (post #211874, reply #1 of 4)

If I understand the description, and coming from several commercial bar jobs and from patronizing said establishments....


the drink rails were at most 3/4 thick.

the stock stainless sink units were at most 30 inches high, some with a 3-6" splash integral so total height-33-36".

the faucets were low rise but projected out a good distance to catch all the divided basins.

Your cantilever into the room is minimal.  Bar seats with a back, you lean back so the overhang could and should be more.   Stools with no back and a rail at bar or on stool,  you lean forward so 10" isn't bad.

since you are wanting to use stock cabs, order out shorter boxes (than 30") and place on your own toe kick.

so, lower the base cabs and or hang over to the fun side more......or both.

many times when space was a premium we would not use a standard wall but only a 3/4" thick pc of ply, called die panel construction.  Configured properly with some structural divisions behind, very sturdy for college bar patrons.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


I have done two bars in (post #211874, reply #2 of 4)

I have done two bars in basements using stock cabinets.  The first job, I framed a short 6" wall on top of the cabinets.  This put the upper top at 42", but did sacrifice approx. 5" of the lower counter top width.

The two pictures attached are from the second bar job.  I framed a knee wall behind the cabinets at a height of 40 3/4", so when the granite was installed, the finished height eas 42".  The upper top (which I think you call the drink rail) is 16" wide.  Because of the cantilever, the granite installers used something to this:

There would have been plenty of room for a bar sink and faucet.

Hope this helps.


Dave Otto -- Otto Construction -- PA

Bar_finished.jpg133.34 KB
Bar_knee_wall.jpg125.87 KB

Calvin and Dave, thanks for (post #211874, reply #3 of 4)

Calvin and Dave, thanks for the input. A shorter cabinet will work, I was just hoping to keep the sink side work area at 36" Time to take a tape with me next time I have a pint. Just a note, the drink rail is parrallel wiith the top, 3/4" lower than the main top. thats where the 4" comes in. You often see a rubber mat in this spot. You can get them with beer or liquor logos on them. Mostly looking for that authentic feel. Sorry I can't post a picture. Nice work Dave! Thats kind of how I want mine to look only with a wood top instead of granite. Thank you for the photo to help with my "vision".

Mill (post #211874, reply #4 of 4)

Here's a link to some bar shots.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.