Imagine having to cook dinner with your stovetop and oven on the main level, but your refrigerator and countertop upstairs. That’s exactly what the Husband dealt with for three years. You see, we live in a split-foyer home, which means that he was running up and down the stairs to get food and utensils. It’s no wonder he finally insisted on getting a prep table this year.
We originally planned to buy an inexpensive outdoor cart. That all changed when we decided to go seriously overboard with the kids’ toy storage. You see, the storage shed came on on a 7-foot by 3-foot pallet. And those dimensions just happen to be almost exactly the size of the mulch pit that was between the grill and our deck stairs. Suddenly I had an awesome idea.
The next thing he knew, the Husband got to hear me excitedly tell him about my plans to build him a gigantic prep table instead of the small cart we originally discussed. And, in my usual fashion, what started off as a large but simple prep table, rapidly escalated until eventually we ended up with this:
This gigantic outdoor bar was a lot of work, but we’re both in love with the results. After (mostly) leveling ground and staining and sealing the pallet, the build came together pretty quickly. I finished the project in only a few hours…including time to pick up the 3-year old and nurse the baby. As the husband sat in meetings, I texted pictures of my progress. The rain made it a muddy mess, but it was FUN. There isn’t much better than seeing something come to life so quickly.
Making an Outdoor Bar with Cinder Blocks and a large Pallet:
- Hand Tamper
- Landscaping Fabric
- Leftover pallet
- 4 x 4 x 1/2 plywood, cut into appropriate lengths by the hardware store
- 1-5/8″ exterior screws
- Homemade Stain
- Thompson’s Water Seal
- 3 1×4 boards cut to the width of the bar
- Patio Base/Pea Gravel/Sand (I used marble rock)
- 18, 8 x 8 x 16 Cinder Blocks
- 12, 4 x 8 x 16 Cinder Blocks
- 4, 4 x 4 wood posts, cut to 36″ lengths
- 8-foot sheet of corrugated steel roofing
- 3 1×4 boards cut to fit between posts
- 2, 1 x 1/2 x 36 plywood strip
- Exterior Wood Glue
- Sleeve Anchors and/or Construction Adhesive
Preparing for Installation:
- I had no time or interest in trying to dismantle the pallet for the project, so I had the hardware store cut pieces of 1/2 inch plywood to fill the gaps in the pallet. After a quick sanding, I screwed the pre-cut plywood to the pallet with exterior grade screws.
- Next, I stained the pallet using a homemade stain and sealed it with Thompson’s Water Seal.
- We did our best to level the area and put down landscaping fabric. At some point I realized the ground would never be level enough for the table on its own (thank you massive rain storms). That’s when I used three 1×4 boards and marble rock to create level skids for our cinder block legs. The marble rock worked, but paver base, sand, or pea gravel is a much better choice.
Building the Outdoor Bar:
- Now for the fun part! I arranged the cinder blocks on the boards to create the legs of the table. The cinder blocks are stacked 3 across and 2 high, on the short side which ensures plenty of legroom for guests sitting at the front of the bar. Using the cinder blocks directly next to each other creates a ‘wall’, which makes up for using the short side of the blocks. Make sure to measure your cinder block walls so they are placed to be directly underneath a pallet brace. Construction adhesive can be used to bond the cinder blocks together for more stability.
- I arranged the 4 x 8 x 16 cinder blocks between the pillars to act as a floor for our table. You may need to play with the arrangement, depending on the size of your pallet, but the floor makes it easy to slide bins and coolers in and out underneath the table.
Adding the Corrugated Steel Facade
- We had 4 4 x 4 posts leftover from the shed installation which are exactly 36″ long. I had to dig into the ground a couple inches for the outside posts because of the lower pallet support. This also provides a tiny bit more stability. The remaining two posts rest on the ground for now. The most difficult part was making sure they were evenly spaced at roughly 24″ between posts.
- Before installing the posts, cut the corrugated sheet metal to the length of the table. I used tin snips, which was a pain. If you have the right power tools, use them. And always be sure to wear protective gear, no matter how you’re cutting metal.
- Attach the corrugated sheet metal to the back of the posts using exterior screws. I started each hole by hammering a screw in the spot that needed the hole. I was grateful at that point for the Husband’s protective ear muffs.
- Finish off the front of the table with three stained and sealed 1 x 4 boards cut to fit between your posts. Ours are held in place with pressure and glue.
- I also added a 1-inch strip of wood between the post and the cinder blocks to hide and protect against the sharp edges of the cut corrugated sheet metal.
- We haven’t yet attached the pallet to the cinder blocks and posts, but will need to. The bar is stable against most wind. However, we plan to bolt the pallet to the cinder blocks and posts just to be sure. I will update with more details when we got it done.
- Make sure you use plywood rated for exterior use. Even with treatment, cheaper plywood will absorb moisture and will start to fall apart.
- Counter height is 36″. The cinder blocks are listed as 16″ wide, but are actually closer to 15.5″ wide. The pallet has a depth of 3.5 inches. With the skids underneath the cinder blocks, the table is almost perfectly counter height.
- Pallets come in all shapes and sizes. Our pallet was 7’3″ by 3’3″. The length and depth turned out to be the perfect size to create an outdoor bar.
What would you make with a leftover pallet?
Would you use cinder blocks to create furniture?
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