Learn how to build a DIY Bar Cart! It’s easy to make with these free plans. It features a wood removable tray and aged metal hardware for an industrial look.
DIY Bar Cart
As a fellow DIYer, I’m sure you know that inspiration can strike just about anywhere. The inspiration for this DIY bar cart came to me while I was walking down an aisle at Target. I liked the overall design of the store-bought version, but I wanted to put my own spin on it.
Originally published June 21, 2016 updated July 16, 2019
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Designing a DIY Bar Cart
The first thing I wanted to do was ditch the white plastic tray. Instead, my DIY bar cart would feature a stained wood tray accented with aged metal corner braces.
The metal corner braces are a DIY project too. I aged them using some common household supplies. I think the combination of wood and metal gives this bar cart a vintage industrial look.
Related: How to Age Metal
Next, I replaced the gold metal legs with wood legs. I painted the legs of my cart satin black to hint that they might actually be metal. You could paint the legs of your cart white or any color you choose.
This project was designed to use inexpensive 2×2s for the legs. If you’ve ever worked with 2x2s you know it can be difficult to find ones that are straight. Most of the ones I see are shaped like a banana!
You may have also noticed 2x2s have rounded corners. I wanted the legs of this DIY wood bar cart to have square corners. I used 2x4s instead of 2x2s to make the legs for this project.
First, I used my table saw to rip off the rounded edge of the 2×4. Next, I ripped the 2×4 to 1-1/2” wide which makes it the same dimension as a 2×2.
Pocket Hole Joinery
This DIY industrial bar cart is an easy project for beginners because there are only a few joints to make. The joints are made with pocket holes and pocket screws.
We could use any Kreg Jig to make the pocket holes, but this would be a great project for the inexpensive Kreg Jig Mini or Kreg Jig R3.
How to Use a Bar Cart
Wouldn’t this DIY bar cart be a hit at your next party? Load the tray up with your favorite beverages and carry it wherever it needs to go.
If you’re not into alcohol this would also make a great DIY coffee bar cart. Add a coffee maker, a sugar container, some mugs and you would have the perfect station for your morning coffee.
Where to Use a DIY Bar Cart
- Dining Room
- Living Room
- Man Cave
Where to Buy a Bar Cart
Store-bought bar carts are available if you don’t have the tools or time to DIY your own. Here are a few popular options.
How to Build a Bar Cart with a Removable Tray
- 1×2 – about 6″
- (1) 1x4x6
- (3) 2x2x8 (I used 2×4’s ripped to 1-1/2″)
- 2’x4′ Sheet of 1/2″ Plywood
- 1″ Pocket Screws
- 2-1/2″ Pocket Screws
- #8 1″ Wood Screws
- (8) 2″ Corner Braces
- Wood Glue
- Painter’s Tape
- (4) 2″ Casters
- Rust-Oleum Early American Stain
Step 1. Cut the Legs
Cut 4 pieces of 2×2 to 24-1/2″.
Optional: 2×2s have rounded edges and I wanted the legs of the DIY wood bar cart to have square edges. I used 2x4s instead of 2x2s to make the legs.
First, I used my table saw to rip off the rounded edge of the 2×4. Next, I ripped the 2×4 to 1-1/2” wide which is the same dimension as a 2×2.
Step 2. Cut the Rails
Cut 8 pieces of 2×2 to 15″. Again, I used 2x4s to make the rails just as I did for the legs in the previous step. I set my Kreg Jig for 1-1/2″ material and drilled two pocket holes in the end of each rail.
Step 3. Attach the Rails to the Legs
Layout two legs and two rails. Apply glue to the top rail and make sure it’s flush with the top of the legs. Apply glue to the bottom rail and place it 2″ from the bottom of the leg.
Attach the rails to the legs using 2-1/2″ pocket screws. These pocket holes are located very close to the edge of the board which can cause the wood to crack. It’s important to drive the screws slowly. Using a Kreg Face Clamp and applying candle wax to the screws can help prevent cracking the wood. Repeat for the remaining set of legs and rails.
Next, connect the two leg assemblies with the remaining rails.
Step 4. Drill Pilot Holes for the Casters
The casters I used for this project requires a mounting hole to be drilled in the leg. I used a straightedge to draw a line from corner to corner to locate the center of the leg. Then, I used a drill bit to drill a hole in the bottom of each leg.
Step 5. Make the Shelf
Cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood to 15” x 15”. I applied painter’s tape along the cut lines to keep the edges of the plywood from chipping.
Next, I set my Kreg Jig for 1/2″ material and drilled several pocket holes around the edge of the shelf. These pocket holes will be used later to attach the shelf to the rails.
Don’t attach the shelf now. It’s easier to paint the legs and stain the shelf separately and attach when the paint and stain are dry.
Step 6. Make the Bottom of the Tray
Cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood to 16-1/2″ x 16-1/2″. I applied painter’s tape along the cut lines to keep the edges of the plywood from chipping.
Next, I set my Kreg Jig for 1/2″ material and drilled several pocket holes around the edge. These pocket holes will be used later to attach the tray bottom to the tray sides.
Step 7. Make the Sides of the Tray
Cut 2 pieces of 1×4 to 16-1/2″. Measure 6-3/4″ from each edge and up 2″ from the bottom. Use a 1″ Forstner bit to drill a hole at each mark.
Then, use a Kreg Multi-Mark to draw lines to connect the top and bottoms of the holes. Use a jig saw to cut the remaining material between the holes. Use sandpaper to smooth the inside edges of the handles.
Optional: Attach store-bought cabinet door handles instead of cutting out handles in the tray.
Step 8. Attach the Sides of the Tray
Apply glue to edges of the tray bottom, clamp the sides so they are flush with the bottom and attach using 1″ pocket screws.
Step 9. Attach the Front and Back of the Tray
Cut 2 pieces of 1×4 to 18″. Apply glue to edges of the tray bottom, clamp the front and back so they are flush with the bottom and attach using 1″ pocket screws.
Step 10. Attach the Feet to the Tray
Cut 4 pieces of 1×2 to 1-1/2″. Locate the center of each foot and drill a countersink hole. The feet for the tray are more than just feet. They also help lock the tray into the framework of the legs.
I placed the tray upside down on my workbench and placed the legs on top of the tray. Then, I marked the corners on the bottom of the tray.
I set my Kreg Multi-Mark on the bottom of the tray so the ruler was even with the pencil mark. Next, I moved the ruler to add about an 1/8″. This will position the feet a little farther into the tray which will give the tray a little wiggle room when positioning it on the legs.
Apply glue to the feet, position with the Kreg Multi-Mark and attach using 1″ wood screws.
Step 11. Paint and Stain the DIY Bar Cart
I sanded the legs smooth and applied a coat of primer. Then, I painted the legs with two coats of black satin paint.
Step 12. Attach the Shelf to the Rails
Position the shelf flush with the tops of the rails and attach using 1″ pocket screws.
Step 13. Attach the Corner Braces
I set my Kreg Multi-Mark to 3/4” and used it to position the braces on the tray. Attach with the screws included with the corner braces.
Step 14. Attach the Casters to the Legs
That’s it! Your DIY Bar Cart is complete and ready for your favorite beverages!
Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott