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How to Make a Bar Cart From a Bookshelf

Event designer Camille Styles turns a basic wooden bookshelf into a mobile cocktail serving station for holiday entertaining.

Brian Patrick Flynn, Flynnside Out Productions

Materials Needed:

  • 36-40-inch-tall ready-made wood or composite bookshelf
  • precut 1x2-inch primed MDF fascia
  • pocket hole jig
  • drill
  • 3/4-inch drill bit
  • hammer
  • flat-head screwdriver
  • 1-inch-thick 3x3-inch block of scrap wood
  • 2-inch wood screws
  • 1 quart of semigloss latex paint
  • foam paintbrush
  • basic white or wood patio door handle
  • 2 2-inch aluminum casters (for front of cart)
  • 2 5-inch plastic wheels (for back of cart)

Remove Back Panel

Remove the back panel from the bookshelf. Depending on how the back panel is attached, either loosen tacks or nails with a hammer or flat-head screwdriver, or reverse screws using a drill.

Add Molding

It's likely that the back sides of the shelves will be unfinished. To ensure a finished look on both sides of the cart, use a pocket hole jig kit to add two holes into each end of precut primed MDF fascia. Next, secure in place using screwdriver or drill and 2-inch wood screws.

Attach Front Casters

Install small casters along the left-hand side of the bottom shelf by attaching a 3x3-inch block of wood to the underside of the shelf, then attaching the screws of the casters directly into the block of wood. Note: The 2-inch casters are meant to remain hidden from view. Once secured with a drill, check to make sure they are concealed by the bottom of the bookshelf and/or fascia.

Attach Back Casters

While the front casters are meant to remain concealed, the rear casters add to the overall look of the bar cart and should be visible. Use a 3/4-inch paddle bit and drill to create holes through the right-hand legs of the bookshelf. Next, insert the rod through the drilled holes, then fasten the wheels tightly.

Attach Handle

Centered along the right-hand side of the top shelf, attach patio door handle using drill or screwdriver.

Add Paint and Finish

Depending on the style of patio door handle used, either fully update the paint or simply touch up any nicks using semigloss paint and foam paintbrush. Once dry, use the handle as a towel or linen holder.

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