Brainstorming A Bar Cabinet – The Grand Finale!

You guyyyyyys! I cannot tell you how excited I am to share my latest project with you! It has definitely been the most challenging (but favorite!) build yet!

Okay, so let me give you a quick rundown before we jump with both feet in: in case you missed it, here’s part 1 and part 2 of the Bar Cabinet Brainstorm.

So, where we left off last, the Hubs asked me to build him a place for his scotch decanters and I was lusting over this Restoration Hardware Printmaker’s Sideboard:

But instead of a bunch of shallow drawers, I wanted it to work as a bar by having some faux-front drawer face cabinet space (hey, that rhymed!) included, like this:

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But sadly, I am not a plan-maker. I’m just an idea girl in desperate need of Ana White’s expertise and guidance. So I called on my sweet friend and she came to my rescue with these amazing plans! Be sure to pop over to Ana’s site – you can get the free plans to make your own Restoration Hardware knockoff Printmakers Sideboard! Pretty awesome, right?!

Okay, so I know I’ve been talking up the Kreg Jig with each build I do, but I really couldn’t have built this without it. It’s definitely been one of the best tool investments I’ve made. I used wood glue on all my joints and hid all the screws with the pocket holes. First, I built the front and back frames out of inexpensive 2×2 furring strips. I was at the lumber store for several hours (yes, hours!) sorting through the pile because it’s imperative to use the straightest boards possible.

Then I built the doors out of alternating 1x2s and 1x3s:

Then I quickly did a dry fit just to see how things would come together:

Then I joined the front and back frames with more 2x2s:

I used PureBond birch plywood for the bottom and side panels. Home Depot sells the PureBond brand. I was really excited about this product because unlike most plywood, PureBond plywood is environmentally friendly in that they use a soy-based, non-toxic adhesive to bind the real-wood layers together, whereas other plywood products, like particleboard or MDF, contain urea-formaldehyde in the glue which off-gas toxic carcinogens. Yikes! Since this piece will be living in our home for many years to come, I want to limit those hazardous materials as much as possible and provide the healthiest options for my family.

I installed the bottom panel by turning the whole piece on its side and zipping in the screws into the pre-drilled pocket holes. I’ve discovered it’s easiest to drill downwards and use gravity to my advantage.

Here are the bottom and side panels attached to the frame:

The top 3 drawers are real drawers, so I attached some 1×2 boards to support the drawer slides:

Then I built the drawers, putting the pocket holes on the outside because they would be hidden by the drawer faces.

Building a piece with drawers was challenging, to say the least. This was my first rodeo working with drawers and drawer slides and there were more than a few foot-stomping moments, I’ll admit. Here’s the most important thing about building drawers: make sure you check that they are SQUARE! If they’re not square, you’ll run into problems later (wonky drawers that don’t fit, align onto the drawer slides, or slide in and out smoothly). And even if your drawers are square, you still may have problems if the space you’re putting them in isn’t square. Needless to say, even after my meticulous measuring, cutting, and building, my drawers were still a little frustrating to deal with. Also, you may want to deviate from the plan and measure the drawer space and build accordingly, just to be sure they’ll fit. Each of my drawers fits a specific space, as in, I can only put the middle drawer in the middle space. One more thing worth mentioning: SHIMS! Pick up a package of shims (they’re really inexpensive) because they are the stuff of carpentry magic! I used shims on 2 of my 3 drawers to square them up and make them slide smoothly.

Holy moly, the drawers are in! And they actually work! Hallelujah!

I had the lumber guys rip my plywood for me, but their measurements weren’t exactly accurate, so I was left with a board that didn’t fit on the top correctly. So, instead of purchasing another piece of plywood and making the same mistake, I bought this ready-cut solid wood panel:

Here she is: ready to be sanded and stained! By the way, I just laid the top on for the photo op (it’s not screwed in yet). I won’t attach it to the rest of the piece until the doors are on and everything is stained. It just makes for easier access (that’s what she said).

After filling the visible pocket holes with wood filler, I sanded the entire piece with 60 grit sandpaper, then followed up with a finer, 320 grit sandpaper. I vacuumed up the sawdust then wiped everything down with a damp rag. I chose Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain in Early American because it dries in an hour! I applied the stain with a foam brush, working in sections, wiping off the excess with a clean rag after about 2-3 minutes.

Aren’t these drawer pulls cool? I love their rustic, industrial look. I got them from this seller on Amazon for $2.25 each! I’ve seen them sold elsewhere for much more, so I was psyched to have snagged such a deal! I lined up each drawer pull perfectly using a chalk line reel.

It was much easier to stain each piece separately, before I assembled everything because that meant I wouldn’t have to contort my body in unnatural ways to get every nook and cranny stained evenly. Good thing, too, because you do not want to see a 9-month pregnant lady in such compromising positions. Take my word for it: it ain’t pretty.

After the stain was dry and I applied 3 coats of satin polyurethane, it was finally time to put it all together! The Hubs helped me attach the doors because it takes 2 sets of hands to hold the door and drill the hinges in place. Then, we screwed the tabletop onto the frame. So fun! It’s all coming together!

After letting it air out in the garage for about a week, we brought her inside. And here she is: all finished and ready to serve!

I’m in la-la-la-love (oh, yeah, and the Hubs is happy too)!

I also installed some shelving, a hanging stemware rack, and built a wine grid for the insides, so I’ll be back to share those details with you soon. Until then, you can download the free plans for this knockoff Restoration Hardware sideboard at Ana’s site. Thank you so much, Ana!


  1. says

    Wow! Jen I am so impressed, I have been checking out your blog for a while now, I saw some of your comments on Shanty2Chic, and of course your projects on This is beautiful! Best of luck with your sweet new baby!

  2. says

    Wow! I want one too. I think you sold me on staining…I’m freaked out to stain furniture because paint hides all of mistakes so well. Did you have any huge issues with the staining process?

    • says

      The directions on the can say to wait 15 minutes before wiping off the excess, but I’ve discovered it dries too quickly and gets too tacky to manipulate, so I wipe off the excess almost immediately to get the most even stain. Good luck!

  3. Lea says

    Hey Jen, This is a-mazing! Can I just ask what kinds of hinges you used? I like that you can’t really see them, and I was wondering what type they were.
    Thanks and congrats on the new addition to your family!

  4. LAUREN says

    I’m blown away at this piece. I have recently been inspired by Ana and have made a few RH copy cat’s including a coffee table on casters. This however, is IMPRESSIVE. I can’t WAIT to begin this project. I do have a few questions…
    1. How exactly did you screw the tabletop onto the frame? Where did you screw?
    2. When attaching the faces of the drawers, Ana’s instructions are confusing. Use a nailer, then glue, then screw from the inside??? Once again are you using jig? Where are you gluing? Can you go over exactly how you attached the faces? Thanks!!!

    • says

      Thanks, Lauren!
      1. We deviated from the plan with the top. Because my plywood didn’t fit inset like it was supposed to, I just bought a ready-to-stain panel and laid it on top, then screwed it from the bottom of the 2×2 frame. Per the plans, though, the top panel lies inside the frame and you attach it with pocket holes from all sides.
      2. For the drawer faces, I just used glue and finish nails. Then I used a nail punch to hide the nail holes. I installed the pulls first before putting the face on. That’s probably what Ana meant, because you screw the pulls from the inside of the drawer face. Be sure to countersink, though, otherwise the drawer face won’t lie flush to the drawer.
      Hope that helps!

    • LAUREN says

      Thanks! Phew!!! I ordered the right ones!!!!!! Oh…minus the time you let the finished piece sit in the garage, about how long does it take to build this piece? Congratulations on the new baby! Hopefully you will feel human again real soon. I know what you’re going through (I have four of my own, my youngest two just turned 1& 2 – at only 14 months apart)…good luck!

      • says

        I’d guess it took me about 15-20 hours to build, but I had to take breaks and build during nap times and weekends. You probably could get it done quicker if you devote a full weekend to it. Good luck! Come back and share pics when you’re done!

  5. LAUREN says

    Hello, it’s me again. I’ve purchased my table saw and Kreg Jig and I’m totally legit! Wish I could buy knowledge…I’m a little confused on the settings for the Kreg Jig for the frames. I’m setting my board thickness on the Kreg Jig and it seems it doesn’t go beyond 1 1/2″ on the top and 1 3/8″ on the bottom for the screw bit. Since the furring strips are 2×2″…it seems I will have to guess where to set the stop on the drill bit and the top. Plus, boards are never the thickness they say they are! Maddening! So…wondering if you can tell me where to set the thickness for both the top adjustable portion and the large screw bit. Thanks in advance!!!

    • says

      Yay for new tools! The Kreg booklet tells you what setting and which length screws to use for the specific width of material. And yes, boards are usually 1/2″ smaller than what they’re called (2×2 is actually 1.5″ wide).

  6. LAUREN says

    I just measured the 2×2 strips…and they are 1 1/2″ thick. Sorry for asking, I should have just done that first. I am curious, did you put your drill bit into A,B or C?

  7. says

    You rock! This is gorgeous, Jen! {and no…I haven’t broken out the Kreg. Yet.} lol!

    Thanks so much for sharing your creativity and awesome talent. I always leave here inspired!

  8. LAUREN says

    I went to Lowe’s and the hardware guys were confused by what “inset hinges” are. They assumed they were the frameless hinges used on kitchen cabinet doors. Those are over $6 each and you have to use a special drill bit to cut a circle into the wood to accommodate the inset portion of the hinge. Are these the right ones? Is there any way to can take a picture of your installed door hinges? Also, Ana’s supplies and cut list don’t include that small piece of wood running along the backside of the piece, which (I’m assuming) supports the drawers. Is that a 1×2? Is that suppose to help stop or support the back of the drawer?

  9. LAUREN says

    Thank you! Those look considerably smaller than the ones I got. I’ll head to Home Depot and get these! I’ve been working on the drawers today, and they are a doozie. It’s taken 3 hours to successfully install one drawer. I was so sick of the guesswork, so I went ahead and nailed the face onto the drawer, then installed to the box. My question about this is, I hadn’t installed the handles yet…I thought the rounded screw heads that hold the handle in place wouldn’t allow the face to lay flush to the front of the drawer. Hoping one of my hardware stores will sell these handle screws, but longer, so I can attach the handles. Ugh…this project is not for the faint of heart.

  10. LAUREN says

    I am taking advantage of your comments section. I just have no one else to ask :( I am sorry and will have pics soon…but ran into another problem…Okay, in which way did you use shims for two of your drawers? I had to shim one of my slide supports to bump out in order for one of the wheels to stay on track. However, I’m having the opposite problem for the opposite side of the piece. Somehow, the space gradually gets closer together as I roll the drawer back. My drawer is already made based on the plan. Should I just keep ripping one of the supports down at the point it gets stuck? Also, the inset top, would you have turned the piece upside down to screw in or have extra sets of hands and screw it in right side up? Thanks again,

    • says

      I used the shims wherever I needed to… as in, if the drawer was getting off track in the back left corner, then I inserted a shim there, so that it would square up the drawer and make everything run on the drawer slide. It depends on your drawers and where it’s getting off track. The shim is just meant to ‘cheat’ and fill in spaces that need filling in. However, if your drawer is too tight, then you don’t need a shim. Hope that makes sense.
      For the tabletop, I didn’t use the inset top. I bought a ready-to-stain panel and laid it on top, then screwed it to the frame from underneath.
      This is not a beginner project, so don’t get too frustrated. Hang in there!

  11. LAUREN says

    Annnnnd I’m gonna send you a gift package….

    Did you use any kind of template when installing all those pulls? If not, what was your method to getting them all straight?

  12. says

    What an amazing piece! Your tutorial is so fantastic!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I found your blog at House of Hepworth’s and I’m so happy that I did. Megan

  13. says

    oh no you didn’t!! it’s fabulous. we have been lusting over this cabinet at RH and even found one at a local outlet but waited too long and it’s gone!

    bravo on this replica.

    hope you’ll stop by and follow if you aren’t already!



  14. says

    Wow, so cool! Me and the hubby (mainly the hubby) have just begun dabbling in woodworking over the last year and its so rewarding! Great job!
    We just started back up our link parties and we would love if you came and linked up at The Humble Brag. Each week, one lucky featured blogger will get one free week of advertising, which mean thousands of ad views a day! Hope to see you there.

  15. Henry says

    Did anyone mention you might try auto pinstriping tape to simulate the many drawers of the original? Just a thought. (a smart man calculated only 20% of good ideas work out, especially at my house!)

  16. Emily @ Not So Idle Hands says

    I LoVe this build! You did a great job, it looks beautiful. I’ll def be back to check out more projects.

  17. Linda says

    Jen I hope you guide us through how you went about with the inside of the cabinet. I absolutely love it. I am hoping hubby will tackle it as I have been looking a lifetime for something I like for my dining room. Thanks so much. How talented you are!!!!

  18. Kristin says

    Did you end up installing a lock? I have been wanting to make something just like this with the exact specifications you mentioned. I just would really like a lock on it.

  19. ashley says

    I have been obsessing over your build for a year. Since spring is finally here, I began working away at creating my own cabinet, but am a little lost when it comes to the drawers. What piece did you use for the bottom of the drawer? Anna’s directions indicate 1/4 inch piece, but that piece was no where on the buy list. Today i went out and bought a 1/4 piece of plywood, but am still a little unsure how i can attach it. Did you use a nail gun?

    • says

      Ashley, I used a 1/4″ piece of plywood and attached it with wood glue and finish nails. I didn’t use a nail gun, I just hammered them in by hand! Good luck!

  20. says

    I just connected with you social media. I found you on the Maven 2014 page. I am so impressed with your dig in and do it attitude. You have made a gorgeous piece of furniture. I am excited to follow your journey. My journey is new I have been blogging since Oct. 2014.
    Blog Love,
    Karen Marie
    Dragonfly & Lily Pads

  21. says

    Hey, you all done it yourself? I am really impressed and inspired by you to make my own. I got the way to built and i do this on this weekend. I found it really interesting and somewhat easy but i know when i all start it, it will tell me the real picture which would not be easy. But, really nice. Loved it.!!

  22. Kathy says

    Hey, so I am in the process of making this and absolutely love it so far. I was wondering how you screwed in the top piece of the bar without showing any of the screws on the outside? I see you made yours over hang some being laid on top but the plans have it set into the frame and I prefer to do what you did.

  23. Judi says

    WOW! I thought I’d done some crazy things, but building this when you were NINE months pregnant, is absolutely amazing, well done you! Like you, I am a lover of the Kreg jig and bought one when I built my kitchen, probably one of the best tools I’ve ever bought, and I even converted my husband to it this week, so any of you girls out there who think you can’t possibly build your own furniture ….. think again!


  1. […] my woodworking skills and confidence. It’s when I stumble upon projects like this bar from Jen at House of Wood that I am really wishing I could make the jump to expert builder over night. Jen worked with Ana […]

  2. […] For a good long while now, I’ve been admiring my friend Jen Woodhouse’s incredible creativity from near and far. She’s a gifted singer/songwriter, an incredible mother, a phenomenal cook, and – dun dun dun – she builds stuff. Like, really really cool stuff. Not just weird crap. She builds massive Restoration-Hardware-esque end tables and wine cabinets. […]

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