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Looking for the perfect DIY bar cart? We’ve got you.
From the curved, basket reed wrapped handles to the gorgeous green, this bar cart is sure to impress your friends and family.
Before we dive into the tutorial, can we just talk about the color?? Green is IN and it’s no wonder why.
It’s the perfect combination of optimistic vibes and a sense of grounding and peace. This color is Gentle Olive, and it’s the 2022 Minwax Color of the Year!
I love that it comes in both semi-transparent and solid finishes, so you can get the exact look you’re going for. We actually used both on this bar cart. The shelves are the semi-transparent finish and rest is solid. Same awesome color, two different feels.
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
What You’ll Need
- 1 – 3/4″ 4×8′ piece of plywood (we used oak)
- 3 – 1x2x8 boards (we used oak)
- 4 – 2x2x3 boards (we used oak)
- Painters Tape
- Wood glue
- 1.25″ Kreg screws
- 5/8″ 18-gauge nails
- Minwax Water- Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
- Minwax Wood Finish Solid Color Stain in Gentle Olive
- Minwax Wood Finish Semi-Transparent Color Stain in Gentle Olive
- Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Satin
- Purdy XL brush
- Synthetic pad
- Clean rags
- Flat oval basket reed
- 4 wheels
Prefer printable plans? Grab them here!
DIY Bar Cart Instructions
STEP 1: MAKE YOUR HANDLES
To make the curved handles, we’re going to be using plywood. Start by cutting your plywood down into two pieces that are 12×35″. Glue them together and clamp them to dry overnight. This will give us plywood that is 1.5″ thick to match the thickness of the 2×2 legs.
After letting the glue dry for 24 hours, cut your plywood in half so that you have two pieces that are approximately 6″ wide.
Sketch the arch you want for your bar cart. Along the top, we measured 6″ in from the side and had the curve end there. You only need to sketch out one side.
Once you are happy with your curve, cut it out using a jigsaw.
Take the piece that you cut off and use it as a guide for the other side. Measure 33″ from the side you just cut and place the inside up with your line. Cut it out.
Now we’ll mark 1.5″ in from the shape we currently have. I used my multi-mark tool for this to make things easier.
Cut along the line you just drew to complete your first handle. Trace the handle you just cut on the second piece of plywood that you have. Then, cut it out.
STEP 2: MAKE YOUR CUTS
Make your cuts according to the cut list. The following cut list serves as a guide. Your actual measurements might differ from the provided cut list. Make sure to double-check your dimensions based on how you cut the handles.
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STEP 3: DRILL POCKET HOLES
Using the 3/4″ setting, drill pocket holes along each edge of each of the plywood shelves.
Then drill a pocket hole on each side of the plywood handle, again using the 3/4″ setting. Yes, you should technically use the 1.5″ setting on this piece, but due to the curve, you’ll need to use the 3/4″ setting. Don’t worry, we tested it and it worked fine😉
Finally, using the 3/4″ setting, drill one pocket hole on either edge of your front/back frames. This will be a little bit different than usual because you will drill the pocket hole on the .75″ side rather than the 1.5″ side.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE LEGS
Using glue and 1.25″ Kreg screws, attach the rounded handle you cut in step 1 to (2) legs. If the base of your handle is not the exact width of the 2×2 legs, line the outside of the legs up with the outside of the handle.
STEP 5: ASSEMBLE SHELVES
To assemble the shelves, we’ll just be using glue and 1.25″ Kreg screws. Start by lining up the short pieces with the short sides of your plywood. The top of the 1×2 should be flush with the top of the plywood.
Once the short sides are attached, repeat with the long sides.
When installing the long sides, make sure the pocket holes are facing the bottom of the shelf.
STEP 6: SAND
Sand everything with 120, 180, and 220-grit sandpaper before moving onto the next step.
STEP 7: PRE-STAIN
Before we start staining, it’s important to first apply pre-stain. Not only does it help the stain absorb as evenly as possible, it also helps minimize raising of the grain.
Using a clean rag, wipe on Minwax Water-Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Let it soak in for about 2 minutes, then wipe off any excess.
Wait for it to fully dry for about 20 minutes, then lightly sand everything again with 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe everything with tack cloth and then break out your stain!
STEP 8: STAIN
For this project, we decided to use both a solid and semi-transparent stain. Both are the same color (aka the 2022 Minwax Color of the Year: Gentle Olive!), but the different transparencies result in unique finishes.
We’ll first start with the SOLID stain. To apply, grab your Purdy XL brush and evenly brush on the stain. You’ll notice that it’s thicker than traditional stains and almost feels like paint!
Immediately after brushing it on, take your synthetic staining pad and wipe off any excess, working in the direction of the wood grain. The staining pad helps us get the most even coverage.
We stained the bottom of the shelves and the shelves with the Minwax Wood Finish Solid Color Stain and waited 1 hour before flipping everything over to stain the other side.
For the tops of the shelves, we stained the 1×2 frame with the solid transparency and then the plywood center with the semi-transparent.
To get clean lines, we added painter’s tape to mark off the center before staining the 1x2s with the solid stain. Make sure to really press down that painter’s tape to avoid bleeding!
We removed the tape immediately after applying the solid stain to the 1x2s and then waited an hour before applying the semi-transparent stain.
To apply the semi-transparent stain, we used the same Purdy XL brush to brush it on. But instead of using the staining pad to wipe off the excess, we used a clean lint-free rag.
Don’t worry too much about getting the semi-transparent stain on the solid stained areas. If you wipe it off immediately, you won’t even notice you ever brushed over the solid stain!
STEP 9: WRAP THE HANDLES
Soak your basket reed in warm water for a few minutes to make it more flexible and easier to work with.
Once it’s ready to go, grab your first piece and tie it tightly onto the bar cart. You want it to be on the leg, just underneath the seam where the 2×2 leg meets the plywood handles.
Then start tightly wrapping the basket reed around the plywood. As you get to the rounded edges, it gets a little more challenging to keep things nice and lined up. I found that overlapping and adjusting the angle of every other wrap around worked best for me.
As you get to the end of the strand, carefully nail the basket reed in place. Then grab your new piece and carefully nail it in place.
Continue wrapping your handle until the entire arch is wrapped.
STEP 10: INSTALL THE SHELVES
Now that everything is stained and the handles are wrapped with basket reed, let’s install the shelves to make this into a real, functioning bar cart!
We’ll install the shelves using glue and 1.25″ Kreg screws. We’ll start by pre-drilling 4 holes through each of the shelves, one in each corner.
Then secure the shelf further by screwing through the pocket holes that you drilled earlier in the front/back pieces.
The bottom of the top shelf will be placed 26″ from the bottom of the legs. Mark that location, add some glue and then line up your shelf. Attach to each leg with 1.25″ screws.
The top of the middle shelf will be 8″ below the bottom of the top shelf. Then, the top of the bottom shelf will be 14″ below the bottom of the middle shelf.
STEP 11: ADD THE WHEELS
If you’re using the same wheels that we got, the plate is actually slightly too large for the 2×2 legs. To prevent the wood from splitting when attaching the legs, we pre-drilled the four holes. As a pre-drilled, we drilled at a slight angle towards the center of the leg to help prevent the screw from getting too close to the edge of the wood.
After pre-drilling, we screwed the legs in. We actually used some smaller screws we had lying around since the ones that come with the wheels were so thick.
STEP 12: PROTECT
Once everything is assembled, it’s time to protect the bar cart with my go-to sealer: Minwax Polycrylic.
Using my Purdy XL brush, I applied 3 coats of Polycrylic in the Satin sheen, waiting 2 hours between coats. Polycrylic is great because it dries crystal-clear so you won’t change the color of your stain.
STEP 13: STYLE AND ENJOY
Now for the really fun part: styling it just right! When styling a bar cart, you can keep things simple. Start by placing any liquor, mixers, and glasses that you want to display.
Then fill in the empty spots with things like books (maybe one about mixing together some awesome cocktails), vases, and bowls.
There you have it! Now you have a beautiful, DIY bar cart. The best part is that you’ll always have a party story that’s sure to impress your friends. You can show it off and then say…”oh, I made that!”
Loving the Minwax 2022 Color of the Year? Learn more about Gentle Olive (and get even more awesome project inspiration) HERE.