Shipping pallets serve as free framing materials for an eye-catching watering hole. See how simple and affordable it is to create a party-worthy outdoor pallet bar.
The easy-make frame of this pallet bar has shelves inside that hold liquor bottles and glasses, so all you need to do is master some basic cocktail recipes to entertain and impress guests until the snow falls.
The top shelf is set at counter height for easy mixing—it rests approximately 7 inches below the bar surface. If you’ve got a signature cocktail, place the ingredients in one corner of the top shelf where they’re easy to grab.
Keep the fixings for another basic cocktail, like a martini, in the other corner.
On the second shelf, set about 16 inches below the first, place mixers, garnishes and other liquors and liqueurs. Light both shelves up with copper-stringed fairy lights. Ours are battery powered and available at amazon.com.
A selection of glasses on the second shelf is ready to serve any type of cocktail you want.
A retro vintage metal bucket holds ice, African baskets keep citrus fruits handy for flavor or garnish, and a weighted tray of cocktail napkins is ready for guests to take with their libations.
Provide some vintage beer and liquor mats, too, to place under served drinks. They help keep the bar surface clean and bring some fun graphics to the party.
Keep straws and plastic drink stirrers at hand in glasses or jars.
You’ve got to have some nibbles nearby, as well. Nuts, olives and snack mixes in bowls or baskets are easy munchies to serve and share.
A retro-inspired market umbrella provides a bit of shade and adds some color and character to the bar scene.
Ready to impress guests with your bartending skills? Here’s what you need to build our pallet bar.
Constructing the pallet bar
- Wood shipping pallets
- Oscillating saw to cut through nails
- Miter, circular or hand saw to cut wood
- Sandpaper, medium grit
- Nails and nail gun or hammer
- Measuring tape
- Marking pencil
- 2 20-inch x ¾-inch x 6-foot stain-grade wood panels
- 1 16-inch x ¾-inch x 6-foot stain-grade wood panel
- 6 L brackets and screws
- Wood stain
- Brush and pad for staining
- Polycrylic sealer in satin
Scrub the pallets with soap and water, rinse and let dry. Take them apart by cutting wood from pallet frames using the oscillating saw. Save the slats and 2 x 4 frame pieces to reuse and sand any rough edges.
Cut four framing 2 x 4s to 44 inches and two to 42½ inches. Lay the two short and two long ones parallel and equidistantly along a 6-foot stretch, with the short ones on the outside edges. Use the remaining 2 x 4s as a straight-edge guide along what will be the top edge of your bar (end pieces won’t touch the ground but are making way to attach sides of bar).
Cut slats to fit from one end to the center of the third 2 x 4 (leaving an overhang the width of a slat—clamp one in place on the end 2 x 4s as a guide). Cut slats to fit from the center of the third 2 x 4 to the other end. Alternate the edge where you attach your long slat (and remeasure) on each succeeding level of slats. Similar to staggering bricks when they’re laid, this helps with stability and looks better than having all the joins in a row down the front of the bar.
Nail the horizontal slats in place with roughly a 3-inch gap between rows. Note: Since shipping pallets are seldom uniform, it’s best to measure every space before cutting wood to fit.
Create 30-inch side frames for your bar. Cut four 25-inch 2 x 4s and attach two horizontally to front bottom slats at edges with nails to create two corners.
Attach upright 44-inch 2 x 4s at the outside ends of the bottom pieces to create the sides. Cut slats to fit end to end of your side frames and attach with nails.
Position a 20-inch-deep shelf on top of the bar, another 20-inch-deep shelf resting on the side slats on the next row down and a 16-inch-deep shelf resting on the side slats two rows down from there.
With pencil, mark placement of L brackets underneath each shelf at two center 2 x 4s. Turn the shelves over and make pilot holes for screws in each L bracket.
Using a brush and a staining pad to even out the finish, stain the shelves and bar with wood stain. Let dry. Brush on a coat of sealer and let dry.
Screw in L brackets and attach the shelves to 2 x 4s with screws and with finish nails at edges.
Et voila! A solid pallet bar. We’ve gotten some use out of it.
© Caruth Studio