How to Make a Custom Bar Cart in an Hour, for Less Than a Bar Tab

Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Cole Saladino/Thrillist
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Bar carts are decidedly impressive, and a requisite piece of furniture in every home. They look super classy and provide a display for your collection of fine spirits that random people have left at your place (and even if you don't drink, you can load it up with plants). Plus, they're mobile, so you could literally tow one to a party, thereby making you the coolest person at this hypothetical shindig. Unfortunately, they're usually very expensive... unless you decide to build one yourself.

It took me about an hour and approximately $180 to make this industrial-style cart from materials I picked up at Home Depot. It's pretty nice, right? Let me show you how it's done (and how to get everything you need from the comfort of your computer).

Cole Saladino/Thrillist


• Wood. I used a nice light pine that I could sand and stain. Measurements were 1" x 12" x 24". [Get it here]
• Drill. Any drill should work, but I used this great Dewalt. [Get it here]
• 72 screws. I used 1” drywall screws, as they were the more affordable option. [Get them here]
• (18) ½” flanges [Get them here]
• (4) 1½" wheels (casters) [Get them here]
• (4) 18” steel tubes [Get them here]
• (4) 12” steel tubes [Get them here]
• (2) ½” steel elbows [Get them here]
• (2) 2” steel nipples [Get them here]
• (1) 8” steel nipple [Get it here]

Total cost: ~$180 (Note: depending on where you live, prices may vary but not by a lot)

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Step 1: Drill in the flanges

You'll want to start with the bottom shelf first. Grab your four wheels, and mark with a sharpie where they'll be going (but don't drill -- just mark). Then grab your flanges and align them -- one in each corner. Make sure the holes in the flange do not match up with the holes you've marked for the wheels. This is very important, because you don't want the screws you're drilling into the flange to hit the screws for the wheels on the other side, or else they'll meet and crack the wood. Once your flanges are in place, grab your screws and drill.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Step 2: Screw in the pipes

With flanges secured and confidence levels reaching 1980’s Schwarzenegger, screw your 18” pipes into the flanges, then attach four more flanges (upside down) to the other end of the pipe. No need for a wrench, hand tightening will be a-ok.

Then flip over onto the second board (your middle shelf) and drill down those flanges.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Step 3: Secure flanges on top of the middle board

Once the 18" pipes are all screwed in and flanges attached, you'll want to flip the cart right side up and secure flanges to the top of the middle shelf. Remember to make sure the holes don't align with the ones you just drilled in on the bottom. Once you're confident you won't screw up your screwing, drill baby, drill.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Step 4: Attach the 12" tubes and the top board

After your middle board is attached to the bottom board and all the flanges are in place and properly attached, screw in your 12" tubes, attach the top flanges, and throw on the top board -- ostensibly following the same rules as step three. 

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Step 5: Make sure your cart looks something like this

Well, does it? Congrats! You're doing a great job and the worst is over. If it doesn't, well, you could always head to Amazon and get this one that looks exactly like the one I made

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Step 6: Install the casters, aka wheels

Because without wheels a bar cart is just a shelf, you’ll want to throw some casters on there. I went with the 1 ½“ ones (they were the cheapest), but it really doesn’t matter what size you choose. And because you're incredibly astute and intelligent, you lined these up and marked them previously. Hey, you're almost done!

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Step 7: Drill in the handle

First, assemble the handle by screwing in your steel nipples to the elbows and flanges, then place it wherever the hell you want it on the cart and lock it in with some screws. I chose the end of the bar cart because I’m a rational and logical person who appreciates form and functionality. But you do you.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Step 8: Load it up with booze, throw a bangin' (virtual!) party

Be prepared for all of your friends to ask you “will you build one for me?!” Once I completed this cart, I got at least seven requests from people in my office, three of which were from the same person spaced out over 30 minute intervals. It was great to have strangers admiring the final product, but it was even better to stock it and roll it around making drinks. And of course you'll need booze to make said drinks, which you can easily have delivered through Drizly.

And that my friends is how you make a really, really awesome $180 bar cart in one hour.

Alex Robinson is a writer and editor at Thrillist who thinks because he built this, he can probably build a tiny home. Follow all of his delusions on Twitter
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