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How to Make a Home Bar or Cantina

In many cultures, a gathering place for people is a bar. In Spain and Latin American countries, a bar is often called a cantina. People can go there to watch sports on TV or hang out with their friends, drinking beverages such as alcohol, juice or coffee as they do so. You can recreate this experience in your own home by building a bar, providing a place for you and your friends to spend time when you're hosting a party.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pressure-treated 2-by-4 boards
  • Circular saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Drill
  • 2-inch masonry screws
  • 2-inch galvanized screws
  • Standard 2-by-4 boards
  • Hammer
  • 3-inch nails
  • 1/2-inch plywood
  • Level
  • Carpenter's square
  • 1/2-inch-thick oak, pine or maple board (for countertop)
  • 2-inch finishing nails
  • Molding
  • Paint brushes
  • Stain
  • Water-based polyurethane finish
  • Latex-based primer
  • Latex-based paint
  • Decorative Southwestern or Mexican items
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    • 1

      Measure the available space where you want to install the bar. Choose a location where you have enough room for the countertop of the bar, space behind the bar for the bartender and space around the outside of the bar for people to stand or sit on bar stools and enjoy their drinks. Leave a minimum of 3 to 4 feet of space on each side of the bar.

    • 2

      Cut pressure-treated 2-by-4 boards that match the length of the bar. These are the sill plates, and are used to attach the wooden framing for the bar to the floor.

    • 3

      Place the sill plates onto the floor where the framing will be installed, attaching them every six inches with 2-inch masonry screws (for concrete floors) or 2-inch galvanized screws (for wooden floors). Lay the wide edge of the sill plates onto the floor.

    • 4

      Cut the top and bottom plates for the bar frame out of standard 2-by-4s. These are the same length as the sill plates.

    • 5

      Cut 3-foot-long studs for the bar out of standard 2-by-4s. Cut enough studs that they are spaced no more than 24 inches apart.

    • 6

      Lay the bottom plate on the ground, standing it on the narrow edge. Place a stud on end against the broad side of one end of the bottom plate. Drive two 3-inch nails through the bottom side of the bottom plate and into the stud. The two boards together will form the shape of the letter "L". Nail another stud into the other end of the bottom plate with two 3-inch nails.

    • 7

      Nail studs into the bottom plate between the end studs, driving two 3-inch nails through the bottom side of the bottom plate and into the studs, just as you installed the end studs. Keep the studs no more than 24 inches apart. Place the top plate against the top of the studs, and drive nails through the outer edge of the top plate and into the studs, making sure the framing remains square by checking with a carpenter's square.

    • 8

      Move the frame for the bar into position on top of the sill plates. Position the framing so that the bottom plate is aligned with the sill plates, then nail it to the sill plates. If you're not comfortable eyeballing the position of the framing on the sill plate, you can place a level or similar straight-edged object on the floor against the sill plate and bottom plate and use that as a guide.

    • 9

      Nail sheets of half-inch plywood to the outside of the bar frame with 2-inch-long nails, using one nail every six inches. Cover the entire outer edge of the framing with plywood.

    • 10

      Cut a piece of half-inch oak, pine or maple for the countertop of the bar. When measuring the board for the cut, add 2 or 3 inches to the width so that the front edge of the countertop can extend past the bar.

    • 11

      Place the countertop on top of the bar, extending it past the front edge, and nail it to the bar with 2-inch finishing nails placed six inches apart.

    • 12

      Nail molding to the front edge of the countertop along the entire length of the bar with 2-inch finishing nails placed 6 inches apart.

    • 13

      Finish the surface of the bar. If staining, apply a coat of stain with smooth, even strokes. Add a second coat of stain if the wood isn't dark enough to your liking, followed by a water-based polyurethane finish to protect the surface of the stain. If painting, coat the wood with a latex-based primer and allow it to dry, then paint the bar with a latex-based paint. Allow the first coat to dry, then add a second coat and allow that to dry. Cover the countertop with a water-based polyurethane to protect the finish.

    • 14

      Decorate the bar and the surrounding area with items that feature a Southwestern or Mexican motif if you want to make it more of a cantina than a regular bar.