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Amateur Woodworker

Breakfast Bar

By Keith Antolik

Breakfast bars and side shelves are usually rather bland and basic; essentially they are little more than a plank of wood. However, Keith Antolik saw the opportunity to build a far more interesting project that looks far nicer than a typical bar shelf. The project was built out of white oak and all of the dimensions can be easily changed to fit your specific needs.


Tools required: Router, sander, belt sander

Wood list: (white oak)

DescriptionQtyThicknessWidth Length
Top41 1/16" (27 mm)4" (102 mm)72" (1829 mm)
Top Decorative molding11 1/16" (27 mm)1 1/2" (38 mm)71 1/2" (1816 mm)
Side of Skirt23/4" (19 mm)3 1/2" (89 mm)6 3/8" (162 mm)
Side of skirt 223/4" (19 mm)3 1/2" (89 mm)11 1/2" (292 mm)
Front of skirt13/4" (19 mm)3 1/2" (89 mm)52 3/4" (1340 mm)
Drawer fronts33/4" (19 mm)2" (51 mm)12" (305 mm)
Back of Skirt13/4" (19 mm)2" (51 mm)67 1/2" (1715 mm)
Mounting blocks13/4" (19 mm)3/4" (19 mm)78 3/4" (2000 mm)
Bracing (plywood)13/4" (19 mm)4" (102 mm)40" (102 mm)

The first thing that I had to do was to decide on the overall length and width of the side shelf. My friend Dan and I decided on a shelf that was 72" long and 16" deep. I elected to use 5/4" stock for the top (which is actually 1 1/16" thick) in order to get both the strength and the look that I wanted. To get this width, it is necessary to join several planks together. I chose to join four boards that were 4 1/8 x 1 x 72" and once these were joined, I cut it down to the required width of 16". To connect the boards together, it is best to use dowel joints, or biscuits joints as these will give additional strength over basic gluing and clamping.

Once you have glued the planks together, cut the 45 degree angle on each end. Once this is done, give the panel a rough sanding with a belt sander to roughly smooth off the plank. Once this is done, rout the edges of the panel (not the back though) to get the edging profile that you desire. It is best to experiment on some scrap wood before beginning the rout, just to make sure that you are happy with the depth and profile of the chosen cut.

The skirt

Miter one end of each of the five skirt pieces (the four side skirt pieces and the front skirt piece) to a 22 1/2 degree angle. Then, set up the stop block to the exact length of each board and cut the boards to the proper length. Join the skirt pieces (at a 22 1/2 degree angle) using either a biscuit joiner, or dowel joints. Then, cut the back piece of the skirt. the main reason for this piece is to aid in the gluing process of the skirt. I drilled pocket holes on the end of the back piece to join it and secured this piece to the 3 1/2" x 6 3/8" side of the skirt prior to gluing. The easiest way to clamp the skirt while it is gluing is using band clamps.

Drawer Fronts

The drawer fronts are relatively basic. Just cut to the correct dimensions and use the router to add a neat edging. You should always rout the end grain first to eliminate any possible tear out.

Once you have cut the drawer fronts, rout the top decorative molding to match the drawers.


Cut the 3/4" x 3/4" stock and pre-drill clearance holes for mounting the top panel. Next mount the 3/4" x 3/4" blocks to the top inside of the skirt with glue and small nails. Then, drill clearance holes into the drawer fronts for the hardware (the drawer knobs) and into the front of the skirt. The holes in the skirt are to install and tighten up any hardware that may work loose over time and to possible change the style of the hardware to match or fit a different need. Attach the top decorative molding with glue and small nails. Cut the angle braces to the proper dimensions and attach with glue and nails. Make sure you don't cover the access holes that you drilled into the front of the skirt.

The project was finished using a golden oak color, followed by three coats of varnish.

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