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Build a Bar Pass-Through

Construction How-To, Countertops January 6, 2004 Sonia


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Passing the Bar: Creating a bar pass-through between a kitchen and dining or family room can lighten both rooms and provide a gathering place between the two areas.

Creating an opening between a kitchen and dining room can not only lighten your life, but may even spice it up as well. Not only does a bar pass-through make it easy to serve food from the kitchen to the dining room, but it also provides a small eating area the kids can use while you go about kitchen chores.

With a pass-through, the cooks are no longer isolated in the kitchen when guests come to dinner. Guests can visit and enjoy hors d’oeuvres at the bar while the dinner meal is completed in the kitchen. Of course, the opening also allows more light in both rooms. If you have a home with a separate kitchen, but with a wall between it and the dining room, a pass-through may be a way to enhance both areas.

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When framing the opening, make sure load-bearing walls are properly supported.

Although the pass-through design shown may not suit your particular house design, the basic idea can be adapted and the décor changed to suit. The pass-through consists of a countertop at typical “bar” height on the dining room side, adjacent to a countertop on the kitchen side at kitchen-cabinet height, which provides about a 6-inch difference. The bar height allows for the use of bar-height stools. You may prefer to run the countertop through the wall at the same height and use lower stools on the bar side. The design shown allowed the use of two different countertop colors; one to match wallpaper in the dining room side, and one matching the kitchen. The design shown also is in an older home with 9-foot ceilings. This allows for a fairly high shelf above the bar that also has space for wiring under-cabinet lighting.

 162004113926 bpass9 Build a Bar Pass Through Cutting the Opening   

The first step is to determine if any plumbing pipes or electrical lines are running through the wall. Examine the attic and basement or crawlspace for evidence of these. Also, determine if the wall is load-bearing. This can also be determined from the attic, basement or crawlspace. If there are no utility problems, the next step is to cut the opening. If the wall is a load-bearing wall, you should brace the ceiling joists with temporary braces before cutting out the opening. Cut the opening large enough to provide space for a header above the bar. Cut the sides back far enough to provide space to install jack studs to support the header on each end. With the opening cleared, replace the plaster or wallboard back to the edges of the opening and refinish the walls on each side to suit the room décor.

Building the Cabinets

The bar countertop is supported on each end in the dining room with cabinetry. The right-hand corner is next to a door opening in the design shown. An open shelf with rounded corners was constructed and installed next to the door opening.

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Although this corner cabinet seems somewhat complicated, it’s fairly easy to build. The cabinet was constructed of solid pine, standard 1-by-12′s in No. 2 grade. The bottom features a rounded facer cut to the height needed to match the existing baseboards of the house. The facer was created by kerf-cutting the back side on a table or radial arm saw. The kerfs are 3/8-inch apart and cut to leave a wood “hinge” of 1/8-inch. It is important the stock have no knots. You may wish to experiment with a piece of scrap stock to determine the exact depth and spacing as different woods bend differently. Also cut the piece extra long. Once it has been glued in position, you can cut the ends to length.

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The lower facer of the cabinet is made by kerfing its back side, bending the board and gluing it to the curved lower shelf.