Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tiki build-along, pt. 3

Now is when things start getting serious. I received a couple of items in the mail these past two days that have me downright giddy, but I'm not ready to share them, yet. First things first.

Once I realized I was going all-in on the tikification of the back patio area, I knew some things had to change. The tiki bar was currently located in the center of the covered patio, in front of the stereo cabinet. At the time I built the bar, this was logical, but as the scope of the project expanded, problems cropped up. There are issues getting power to the refrigerator. The bar is not convenient to the pool during the summer. The bar tends to block off and isolate the far end of the patio, and lighting at night is poor. To solve this, I'd simply move the bar (which I built on rolling casters, so it can move fairly easily) close to the French doors for easy access to and from the house. I love my hand-built bar, but I started it before I'd explored the scope of what is possible with home bar projects. Namely, I wish I'd designed it as a wet bar, which is the main thing holding it back from perfection. There is a sink in the garage behind the single door, and as I pondered this problem, I thought "Hey, maybe I'll just clean that old work sink up and tikify it's little corner to use as the "wet" part of my bar. Then, gradually (I'm slow on the uptake sometimes) it dawned on me that I could tie into the water and drain of the sink and run pipes through the garage wall to have a light-use wet bar sink on the tiki patio itself. Brilliant!

I would build a back bar area along the wall to accommodate the pending sink. It would also house the refrigerator and offer more storage and counter space. At first, I thought I'd turn the entire length of that particular wall--from garage door to French doors--into the back bar area, but The Wife tapped the brakes on that idea. While my uber-bar would've been cool, from a logistics point of view it's probably for the best. I went back to the workbench plans to draw construction inspiration. To save money, on-hand materials greatly influenced my design. First up, the back-bar footprint and work surface. I just so happened to have a 20" x 8' plywood board already treated with weather sealant. It was leftover from either the original bar build or maybe the workbench--I can't recall which. Regardless, it was just about the perfect size for my needs. I placed it against the wall to get an idea for the back bar's footprint.

Next, I built a frame to support the bar surface out of 2"x4"s. Nothing fancy here. I measured to leave a 4" overhang on three sides, and screwed the pieces together after drilling the requisite pilot holes.

Next up, the legs. Unlike the workbench, I didn't use two 2"x4"s straddling the corners for legs. I just used one per corner because 1) the back bar didn't need to be as robust as the workbench, 2) I wanted to keep the front and back faces of the bench flat, to simplify my job, and 3) there would be more legs coming into play down the line, and I wanted to save wood. I only had one, twisted, 2"x4" on hand, so this is an area where I had to break down and buy new lumber.

I cut the legs to approximate the height of the workspace on my tiki bar. I allowed about an inch to compensate for the added bar surface and leg footers I'd planned, so at the moment it's a little bit short compared to the existing bar. I've written out the lengths and heights of the back bar and cuts I need to make, but I haven't gone so far as to draw up plans. I've got the vision in my head, though, so I'm not exactly winging it.

In the photo above and below you can see some of the parameters I'm working around. That's a propane line, left over from the house's original construction. Presumably it was used to fuel a gas grill when this was the edge of the patio. I suspect it has not been used since 2005, when the garage and patio were extended. There's also a water faucet and outdoor power outlet. My plan is to enclose and hide these while maintaining their accessibility/usability. Well, maybe not the propane outlet. But that limits my options somewhat.

For the interior structure, I used plates and brackets, drilling pilot holes and then fastening them in place with outdoor-rated wood screws. Initially on this juncture I used brackets on either side (you can see the screw holes on the side of the board). I had to remove the bracket and switch to a couple of plates when I realized the bracket would interfere with the closing of the cabinet doors. That's what I get for not planning everything out with formal blueprints.

Brackets worked just fine for the bottom frame, though.

The bar will have three cabinet doors. I'm using magnetic closures to secure them. Magnets always offer a nice, satisfying "click" when they connect with the door.

This is the skeletal form of the back bar. The open space is the refrigerator's new home. I deliberately made the space taller and wider than our current mini-fridge in case we want to upgrade in the future. We won't be able to upgrade a lot, mind you. The space is still fairly small. But it's nice to have options.

Here's the full view of the skeletal back bar. It's not quite symmetrical, but it looks so at a glance. The center area will be bar storage.

Next, I need to close in the sides of the bar. Rummaging through the garage I came up with some thin plywood scraps that would do the job. I coated them with weather protectant, because I don't want this all rotting away, right? Then I covered the sides of the exposed 2"x4" legs with Titebond II, a strong, waterproof wood glue.

I went with Titebond II instead of the stronger Titebond III because 1) Titebond III is about double the cost, and 2) I'm using roofing nails to doubly-secure the paneling in place. The nails, combined with the glue, leaves me pretty confident that paneling isn't going anywhere.

And here's the finished product. Well, not exactly finished. Not by a long shot. But this gives a glimpse of what shape the finished product will take.

Now Playing: Ray Charles The Genius After Hours
Chicken Ranch Central


  1. Peggy Hailey1:36 PM

    Maybe there's some kind of fire-breathing tiki statue that will let you make use of that old propane line.

    1. I'm sure there is. Or if there isn't, I could make one. But that would entail me fireproofing *all* of the patio tiki area, because I've got palm thatch and bamboo and all sorts of things planned that would happily go up in smoke. I prefer not to.

      Long-term plans involve building a volcano and firepit in the back yard, so don't despair! :-)