When we were designing this outdoor bar cart for my mom’s patio, we knew it needed to be large enough for entertaining and have a spot for some ice storage. No one wants to be running up and down the stairs all day to get cold drinks!
Alright, let’s start DIYing and make ourselves an outdoor bar cart!
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- 9- 1x3x8 boards (we used select pine – read more about using pine outdoors)
- 6 – 2x2x8 board
- 1 – 3/4” 36” dowel
- 4 – 3/8” 36” dowels
- Wood glue
- 2.5″ exterior wood screws
- 1.25” exterior wood screws
- 1.25″ exterior Kreg screws
- 2.5″ exterior Kreg screws
- Stain + sealer or paint (we used Sherwin Williams Lei Flower)
- 18” planter box (for ice storage)
- 4- 3” wheels
- Optional: bottle opener and hooks
Get the detailed cut list in the printable plans, complete with 3D renderings and a visual cut list!
How to Build a Bar Cart
STEP 1: DRILL POCKET HOLES
Just a heads up…there are A LOT of pocket holes in this project! Use the 3/4” setting on any of the 1×3 slats. Use the 1.5” setting on any of the 2x2s.
Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.
Drill (2) pocket holes on either end of the following boards:
- Slats for top
- Slats for cooler
- Shelf and bottom slats
- Shelf and bottom frame
- Cooler supports
- Cooler front/back
Drill (2) pocket holes on one end of the cooler sides.
The dimensions for each of these pieces are available in the printable plans.
STEP 2: MAKE BOTTOM AND SHELF
The bottom and shelf are the exact same structure.
Grab one of the 30” 2x2s and place the pocket holes facing up towards you. Then install your slats using glue and 1.25” Kreg screws.
The gaps should be 1/4” with either side being flush with the end of the 30” sides, but it’s best to mock-up your spacing before assembly. Not every 1×3 board is exactly 2.5”.
As you’re installing, the top of the slats should be flush with the top of your 2×2 sides.
Once you have everything secured to one end, attach a 30” 2×2 to the other end using glue and 1.25” Kreg screws.
Repeat the process until you have two of the same structures.
STEP 3: MAKE THE TOP
First, we’ll make the removable slats that will cover up the ice compartment. Grab one of your top cooler slats
and measure 8.75” from either end.
Then draw a semi-circle that goes in approximately 3/4” between your two marks. This will be the area that you can use to lift up the slats. Cut out your semi-circle using a jigsaw.
Next, grab the other two top cooler slats and space them 1/4” apart. Position your cooler slat supports on the back of the slats and attach using glue and 1.5” screws. Pre-drill using a 1/8” drill bit before adding your screws.
Then, grab your 39” 2x2s and mark them 1” from one side. Using your 3/4” paddle bit, drill a hole that’s 1/2” deep,
one on each piece.
Once you have the hole drilled, insert some glue into one of the holes and add your dowel. You might need to hit it in with a rubber mallet to get it all the way in.
Then assemble your top. First, place the 2x2s using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. One should be flush with the end of the 39” side. The other should be placed 33” over.
Then attach your slats using glue and 1.25” Kreg screws, making sure they are flush with the top and are spaced 1/4” apart. Finally, attach the second side.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE
First, drill two holes into each of your legs using a 3/8” drill bit. The holes should 1/2” deep and placed 3.5” from the bottom of the legs.
Insert some glue and one of your 17.5” dowels into one of the holes. Then attach a 16.5” 2×2 to the bottom of the leg using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws.
Next, attach the second leg to the 16.5” 2×2 using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. As you’re positioning it, insert the 17.5” dowel into the hole on the side of the second leg. You might need a rubber mallet to fully insert the dowel.
Assemble the second set of legs the same way.
Then place a dab of glue into the two remaining holes on one of the set of legs and insert the 31” dowels.
Next, grab the bottom that you assembled earlier.
Attach the bottom flush with the bottom of the legs using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws.
Then, attach the second side, making sure to fully insert the dowels as you get everything positioned.
Next, measure 13.5” from the TOP of the legs. Attach your middle front/back pieces using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws, making sure the pocket holes are facing towards the bottom of the bar cart.
Finally, insert the shelf you made earlier, 13.5” from the top of the legs. Attach using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. Again, make sure the pocket holes are facing towards the bottom of the bar cart.
STEP 5: MAKE BOX FOR ICE BUCKET
First attach the cooler front to one of the cooler sides, making sure your pocket holes are positioned in the same direction as pictured below. Attach using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws.
Then repeat with the second side and the cooler back.
Next, attach both of the slat supports to the cooler front using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. They should be placed 3” from each end of the cooler front piece.
Finally, attach the slat supports to the cooler back.
STEP 6: INSTALL THE COOLER BOX
Install the cooler box using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. You’ll attach the cooler holder sides to the shelf sides and the cooler holder front/back to the legs.
STEP 7: INSTALL COOLER BOX SLATS
This is the most difficult step in the project. Not because it requires a lot of skill, but because the
space is tight. It can be tricky to get the right angle to attach everything through pocket holes.
Start by attaching the slats on the sides of the cooler box. These will be flush with the inside of the cooler box structure. To help keep things flush, grab a spare 1×3 and hold it flush with the outside of the leg/cooler sides as you install the slats using glue and 1.25” Kreg screws.
Then attach the front/back slats. All slats will have a 1/4” gap between them.
STEP 8: ATTACH THE TOP
Position the bar cart so that the top of the legs hit in each of the corners of the top.
Pre-drill through the legs and into the top frame. Attach with 2.5” screws. It should be a pretty snug fit, so you shouldn’t need a lot of screws.
STEP 9: INSTALL THE WHEELS
The plate for the wheels is too large to attach to just the 2x2s on the bottom, so we need to add an extra 3/4” thick board to each corner to give us a flat surface.
Cut the extra pieces from spare 1x3s and attach them with wood glue. If you don’t want to wait for the wood glue to dry, you can secure to the slats using a 1.25” screw as well.
Once you have the wheel blocks in place, install the wheels according to the instructions provided for the particular wheels you purchased.
STEP 10: INSTALL THE “EXTRAS”
If you purchased a bottle opener or hooks for your bar cart, it’s time to install them! We placed our bottle opener on the leg closest to the ice bucket. We placed our hooks on the side opposite of the handle.
There you have it! Now you know how to build your very own bar cart with ice storage.
If you are planning on keeping your bar cart outside, be sure to finish it with an exterior-grade paint or sealer. We painted ours with Sherwin Williams Resilience paint in Lei Flower.
Don’t forget to grab your printable plans!
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