DIY Bar Cart

DIY bar cart with flowers, wine, and wine glasses

I’m super excited about today’s post on how to build a DIY bar cart! This project has been in my head for months and the plans on how I was going to actually build it changed forms many times.

Basically, I wanted to make a DIY wood bar cart that really looked like a custom, higher end bar cart and that was also a bit rustic. I am thrilled at how it turned out after changing my mind so many times about the design of it!

side angle view of DIY bar cart

This DIY bar cart was a little more time consuming to build, but definitely worth it in the end, especially for the amount of savings! It cost me less than $50 in building materials to build, whereas other similar bar carts retail around $150+. Note, I did have the paint and stain on hand already for the finishing, so that is not included in the material cost.

Below are the steps on how I built this bar cart. Also, Ashley from Handmade Haven created some awesome, 3D plans of the build, which you can check out here!

And what I love about this bar cart is that it can also be used as a DIY coffee bar cart!

Note, this post contains some affiliate links. For more information see my disclosures here.

How to Build a DIY Bar Cart:

Materials

  • (3) 2×2 @ 8ft furring strips
  • (1) 1×2 @ 8ft
  • (1) 1×4 @ 8ft
  • (1) 1×3 @ 8ft
  • (1) 2ft x 2ft @ 3/4″ thick pine plywood
  • (4) 2″ Casters (I used these)
  • (2) 3/8″ round wood dowel rods @ 4ft
  • 2 1/2″ and 1 1/4″ Kreg screws
  • 1 1/4″ Brad Nails
  • Wood Glue
  • 2″ Wood Screws
  • (2) Cabinet pulls

 

1. Make your bar cart frame cuts from the 2x2s

I used 2×2 furring strips for the frame of my bar cart. This saved me a ton of money, but try to choose really straight 2x2s and make sure you sand them really well since they are a more rough grade of wood. Make the following cuts:

  • 4 pieces at 30.5″
  • 4 pieces at 22.5″
  • 4 pieces at 14″

bar cart frame wood pieces cut to size

2. Drill pocket holes and Attach frame pieces

Lay out how your frame is going to go together (shown in 1st photo below). Use two of the 30.5″ 2×2 pieces for your sides and two of the 22.5″ 2×2 pieces for the top and bottom of the frame. I placed my bottom frame piece 3″ up from the bottom of the side pieces since this is what the bottom shelf of the bar cart will sit on.

Mark where your pocket holes need to go, one on each end of the two 22.5″ pieces (make sure you do them on the bottom side of your 2x2s so they don’t show). Then, drill your pocket holes with a Kreg Jig*Tip: See my how to use a Kreg Jig post for an easy, step by step tutorial and video tutorial on how to use the Kreg Jig!

Use 2 1/2″ Kreg screws to attach the frame together.

Repeat these same steps for the other side of the frame.

one side of the DIY wood bar cart frame assembled

 

3. Finish assembling the DIY bar cart frame

Drill one pocket hole on each end of your four 14″ 2×2 pieces.

bar cart frame wood pieces with pocket holes

Add two of your 14″ 2×2 pieces to the bottom of one frame side and to the top of the other frame side using pocket holes and 2 1/2″ kreg screws. The pocket holes can be either on the inside or underneath part of the 2x2s as you attach them, either way they won’t show.

Assembling DIY bar cart wood frame together with Kreg screws and pocket holes

Assembling DIY bar cart wood frame together with Kreg screws and pocket holes

Now attach your two frame pieces to form the final bar cart frame. Note, when attaching the frame on the short 14″ sides, the long kreg drill bit to drive screws into the pocket holes, is too long with a standard drill. I had a smaller square tip drill bit that I used instead for this part.

Attaching bar cart frame together with drill and Kreg screws

assembled bar cart frame out of 2x2 wood pieces

 

4. Make the bottom shelf of the DIY wood bar cart

Cut your 1×4 into four 24″ pieces. The cuts don’t have to be perfect for this step.

Then, line up your 1×4 pieces and drill pocket holes as shown in the photo below and attach with 1 1/4″ kreg screws. To get a perfectly straight edge on each side, use a circular saw and trim each side, so that the final length of your shelf is 22.5″ (the width should be 14″ already from your attached four 1x4s).

Assembling DIY wood bar cart bottom tray together with Kreg screws and pocket holes

Next, cut two 1×2 pieces at 22.5″ and two at 14″. These pieces are going to be attached to the sides of your shelf piece as shown in the photos below. But, before you attach them to the shelf, make sure they fit snugly between the frame sides, you may need to sand them down slightly to get a better fit (I had to do this for two of them).

Assembling the bottom wood shelf of the bar cart

 

5. Make the top tray shelf of the bar cart

Using a circular saw, cut one side of your 2ft x 2ft plywood piece to 15″ so that the final size is 24″ x 15″.

plywood cut to size for top tray

Next, for joining the sides of the top tray shelf, you can either do straight cuts or 45 degree angled cuts. I chose to do the angled cuts to make the bar cart look a bit higher end even though angled cuts are bit more challenging. Either way cut two 1×3 pieces at 25.5″.

cutting side wood pieces with miter saw

Attach the two 25.5″ pieces to each long side of the plywood using a brad nailer and 1 1/4″ brad nails. If you did angled cuts, make sure the inner angles on the ends are lined up correctly to the plywood edges before nailing.

Attaching corners of bar cart with brad nails

Now measure the exact width for your two side pieces. It should be just about 17″ but mine was off by 1/16″ so I adjusted my cuts accordingly. It’s always good to measure twice and cut once! Then, attach your two side pieces with brad nails to complete the top shelf tray of the bar cart! Also, for these side pieces I put brad nails along the bottom edge and side edges to make it more secure.

Attaching corners of DIY bar cart with brad nails

 

6. Prepare dowel rods

Cut the 3/8″ dowel rods as follows: two pieces at 23.5″ and two at 14.5″.

Then, mark the center point on the inside edge of the 2×2, 4″ up from the bottom shelf (on all inside edges for a total of 8 marks).

Measuring drill spot for dowel rods

Go ahead and add your dowel rods to the holes to make sure they fit properly. It works best to put them into the 1″ deep side holes first to get them in. If you are having trouble getting them in, trim off 1/4″ or so more but be careful not to trim too much off.

Alrighty, your DIY bar cart is built! Now time for all the finishing touches to complete the bar cart!!!

Unfinished DIY bar cart before adding caster wheels

 

7. Paint bar cart frame and fill holes

If you’d like to have a cleaner look use wood filler to fill holes on the top tray shelf over the brad nail holes. I also used this light spackle to fill any wood knots/cracks in the frame that is getting painted. If you are staining the frame, use wood filler. Sand where needed to prep the frame for painting (or staining). Then, paint (or stain) the frame. I chose to do a white frame for the bar cart.

8. Attach caster wheels to bar cart frame

I bought these adorable 2″ casters at Lowes. They come two to a pack and each caster has a spiky metal piece that you need to remove from the caster.

two caster wheels

Next, place your caster wheel into the metal hole and it should click into place. Repeat for all sides.

Inserting caster wheels into the bottom of the bar cart frame

9. Stain and finish the top tray shelf and bottom shelf of your bar cart and attach to bar cart frame

Stain your top tray shelf and bottom shelf. I used one coat of Minwax Dark Walnut and then applied one coat of Annie Sloan White Wax, but finish however you’d prefer! For help on how to stain wood for a beautiful finish, check out my how to stain wood tutorial.

This was actually my first time using wax and I am in love with the end result of it! I definitely will be using wax again!

Finally, spray paint your round, dowel rods. I used Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze.

Next, attach your bottom shelf with wood glue to the bar cart frame.

gluing the base tray of the DIY bart cart to the wood frame

10. Attach top tray shelf to DIY bar cart.

Attach your top tray shelf to your bar cart with 2″ wood screws from the bottom side. It’s best to drill pilot holes first about 3/4″ from the inside of the bar cart (so it goes through the frame and plywood piece of the tray, not the side 1×3 edges). Also clamp the tray down while drilling. Lastly, add cabinet pulls on each side of your top tray shelf!

Attaching top tray of bar cart to wood frame with screws and clamp

Attaching top tray of bar cart to wood frame with screws

Now your DIY Bar Cart is complete!

DIY industrial bar cart

DIY wood bar cart front view

Top view of DIY bar cart

What do you think of my DIY Bar Cart? I love that it can be used for so many things, including a DIY coffee bar cart too!!

I’d love to see photos of your version of this build! Feel free to share with me on Instagram @angelamariemade, Facebook, or e-mail pictures to [email protected]!

P.S. You can find the Sip Sip Hooray printable in my shop here!

Follow along on Instagram or Facebook for my latest projects, as well as Pinterest!

 

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16 thoughts on “DIY Bar Cart

    1. That’s such a fun idea Shari! I’d suggest getting caster wheels that can support the extra weight of a small refrigerator.

    1. You’re welcome Anna! The only wax I’ve tried is the Annie Sloan wax (which I used on this bar cart project) and I love it! It’s great if you want a more smooth, matte finish and less shiny finish than even a matte poly. I do prefer poly on surfaces that get a lot of wear and tear and water splashes or if I really want to enhance the grain of the wood with a stain finish. The Annie sloan wax is water repellent, so it’s working well on the bar cart that doesn’t need to be waterproof and since I wanted a more subtle, smooth matte finish on the wood. Hope that helps!!

  1. Hi! I would like to make it, but I was wondering if you could translate the measurments into metric since I live in Europe. And I have never made such a project before, so I would appreciate all the help I can get.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Paola! I haven’t worked with metric measurements before so I’m probably not the best at translating them. Google has a good converter where you can convert inches and feet to metric, I would definitely recommend using that!

      1. Thank you for the reply. Since I am completely amateur, could you please explain what (for instance) this means: “(3) 2×2 @ 8ft furring strips”? I just need some help to understand your recipe further. Does it mean that I need to have 3 pieces of 2×2 furring strips which are 8 feet?

        Thanks again 🙂

        1. Sure! You are correct it means three pieces of 2×2 furring strips that are eight feet long. And not to be too confusing but 2×2 in lumber terms in North America is the nominal size, the actual width is 1.5 inches x 1.5 inches (not 2 inches x 2 inches). Another example is the 1×4, the nominal size is 1 inch x 4 inches but the actual size of the wood is 3/4 inch x 3.5 inches. I’m not sure if they do nominal sizes for lumber where you are located, but any lumber around the actual sizes will work! I’m going to try to do a blog post soon explaining lumber sizes more in depth!

  2. A short comment about buying lumber for this really cute bar.
    Lowes 2x2x8 $9.84 but 2x4x8 is $3.21. I will rip the 4x down the middle and have the 2x2s at $1.65 ea. 8′ long.
    I want to adapt the top to a serving tray with handmade handles, or butcher block. This a really neat project I can probably build one in two hours, or 2 in 3 hours. Can probably build it for less than $25. Top shelf would be walnut. I buy walnut at local sawmills for $2 a board foot, then stack and sticker (covered) will pretty well air-dry in one year. I am gonna make some of these.

  3. Hi Angela – I have built 2 dozen chicken coops for our chickens by ripping 2×4 to get 2- 2×2. I buy sawmill lumber, walnut, cherry, cedar and hickory. Neighbor cut down a walnut tree next door and there is a pile of limbs 1″ up to 4″ diameter. I will use those for turnings on the lathe. Thanks for posting your pretty woodwork.

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