I have a new project, and this one is unique. My friend Erin recently bought a house and she wants to add a bar. There is limited space in the room where the bar is going to be, so we decided to convert the old, unused fireplace to the new bar. What is really cool about this project is that Erin wants to do the work. That means I have a new apprentice in the shop.
Before we get to excited about building, we need to see what is behind the plywood panel that is closing off the fireplace. There is another fireplace in the house, but it seems to be sealed up with concrete. This one has a hollow sound behind the panel.
After pulling off a bit of trim, we found a fairly useable space. We need to clean out a bit of rubble, but that can wait.
After measuring up the fireplace and discussing what Erin might need storage space for, I sat down at my computer and came up with some options.
This is what we came up with: A deeper mantle (12″) where the drinks can be poured. Some fairly substantial corbels to hold it up, with some columns below. There will be a cabinet in the center, that will be used for storing Whiskey and other odd-shaped bottles, with pigeon holes around the cabinet for wine storage. The mantle, rosettes, and cabinet door will be made from walnut, and the rest from red oak. Since I have a CNC router, I found some images of hops and wheat to be carved into the front as well as the sides of the corbels. We are going to have a bit of fun with the doors. They will be arched, and have some hardware to make them look like a Hobbit door, or something a bit medieval. Lee Valley has lots of cool hardware options, so I gave Erin my catalog to pick out some cool stuff.
Erin came up today and we took a ride down to Home Depot to get some oak plywood. They had a horrible selection and we went through nearly two dozen sheets of 3/4″ plywood to find two sheets that were not too bad. Here is the plywood breakdown.PDF that I came up with. We basically needed one and a half sheets. The rest will be set aside for another project.
Space is getting limited in my shop, so I laid some 1-1/2″ foam sheets on the floor to cut the plywood on. This allows the blade to cut all the way through the plywood without cutting into the concrete floor. I set up my track saw for Erin to do most of the cutting. Her knees are younger than mine, so I let her have all the fun…
Once the plywood was cut down to more manageable chunks, we moved over to the table saw to break the pieces down to their final sizes.
The shelves for the pigeon holes are all the same size, so I had her gang them together for cutting. This speeds things up a bit as well as making them all exactly the same length.
While she was doing that, I started breaking down the second sheet.
We got all of the plywood sheets cut down to size, so I did a dry-fit to make sure everything fit together right.
Erin had a bit more time left, so I pulled a piece of red oak from my wood rack and had her cut it down and glue up a panel for the shelf that will go inside the cabinet.
Not bad for about four hours of work. Erin was happy with the progress, and I think she is enjoying learning to use the tools. She is already planning several more projects…