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Tropical bar build

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  • Tropical bar build

    When we lived in the Middle East (ME) a couple years ago, we went to a friends' house party. Mike served cocktails out of this exquisitely carved bar they bought on their first overseas tour in Nigeria. They lugged that bar through all their subsequent tours--I think 5. I wanted to make my own.

    My wife loves Hawaii. She wants to retire there. I wanted something a little more formal than a tiki bar with a touch of modern. I was inspired by a free standing bar that had some split bamboo poles lining the curved front. I looked around but could not find any bamboo poles. One of my neighbors offered up bamboo from her yard but it would be a lot of work to process it to a usable state. I kept looking. In the meantime I made a scale model from cardboard (which I never do). It's going to 6' wide, 42" tall, and about 20" deep.

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    Then while driving around we saw a woman hand weaving these cane mats which are used by the locals as a "mattress" they lay on top of a string frame. It was the look we were going for and was already the right size. I'm going to frame it out and attach it to the front.

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    I wanted to be sure I liked the dimensions and also needed a template to bend the plywood over the front of the bar, so I used some plywood from the shipping crates to mock it up. It's going to be big, but we liked it.

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    I still needed wood for the sides and the other shelves but already picked out the top slab (see my post in Around the Coffee Pot), however, they just don't sell that wood in 3/4" thicknesses; they're kept thick or slabbed only. I was strolling through the local HD clone here, and lo and behold, they sell teak! My wife mentioned Central America has been trying to get teak plantations going. My Dad was a forester from where we're from and he managed the teak forests there so it's nice to finally be able to use it myself. I haven't because of the cost, but here it's $3.70/bf. Before your head explodes, that is for finger jointed T&G floor boards that are only 2 1/2" wide. However, it works for me! Now I'm scheming on what other teak furniture I can build before we leave.

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    Right now I'm waiting for the glue to dry in my teak panels, but next steps are to cut the panels to final size (with front curve) and start joining things together. My plan is to build this so it can be disassembled and shipped relatively flat. Mike and Melissa's bar doesn't come apart and the movers actually had to hoist it up to their 5th floor apartment because it was too big to fit into the elevator.

    Paul
    Last edited by atgcpaul; 02-17-2021, 08:12 PM. Reason: Not sure what happened the pictures so I added them back.

  • #2
    I cut both lower shelves to final size and cut notches with a jigsaw for the vertical supports (see prototype above). My jigsaw and bandsaw skills are lacking so the base of the notches were a little wavy. Noone will see them, but it bothers me.

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    I clamped a straight edge at the base of the notch and setup a flush trim bit in a palm router. The bit isn't long enough to cut this in one pass so after the first pass, I removed the straight edge and then use the newly cleaned surface as the bearing surface. I probably have a thinner straight edge around for me to do this in one pass.

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    Now I'll clean up what's left with a chisel. I could have used a chisel for all of it, but didn't feel like it. 13 to go.

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    Paul

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    • #3
      It was one of those weeks at work (remote) that just made we want to retreat to the shop. I had a few escapes here and there.

      The main carcass is finished. It's all screwed together in case I ever want to pack it flat.

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      I wrapped a nice piece (from the inside) of shipping crate plywood around the front and also screwed it down.

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      I'm framing out the woven mat with teak, and used kerf cuts to bend it around the front.

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      Now I need to figure out how to secure the mat to the plywood before applying the frame and panel. My wife wants me to keep it whole so the mat doesn't fray but I'm not convinced. I could staple the mat down, but that would make removing it later difficult. I might use washers and screws. I'm going to have to mull this over today.

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      • #4
        I convinced my wife that making individual panels from the mat rather than applying faux stiles over the whole thing would be more aestheticly pleasing--although it's more work.

        The panels will sit in a rabbet in the frame. I formed those with a track saw. Easy peesy but a TS with dado blade would have been quicker.

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        I formed stub tenons on the ends of my stiles with the track saw, too. The stiles are glued and pocket screwed to the kerfed rails and now they're clamped to the carcass.

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        I'm going to use spray adhesive to adhere the mats to kerfed plywood backs. I think I should apply finish to both sides of the mat first, though.

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        • #5
          I like it! Please update as younprogress.
          Jim Frye
          The Nut in the Cellar.
          ”Sawdust Is Man Glitter”

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          • #6
            Look awesome so far. Can't wait for the finished product. By the way, I love the cardboard mock up.
            Chr's
            __________
            An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
            A moral man does it.

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            • #7
              This past Sunday I applied two coats of polyurethane to both sides of the woven panel that will be applied to the front of the bar. In past years I always reached for General Finishes water borne finishes, but they're not sold here. I didn't want to take a chance with the Sherwin Williams WB one I found here so I just used their solvent based product and thinned it with some naptha. The VOCs in the paint departments here would have you running for a respirator! I also thought a solvent based finish would be more ideal to not raise the grain as well as pop the color on the teak and conacaste later. The poly made the back darker, but the top is about the same as before.

              The petate mat is hand woven from strips made from the fronds of the petate palm. They are approx 4' x 7' in size. Ladies sell them out of their house and it takes about a day to complete one. We bought this mat for just $7. As I mentioned above, they are slept on at night then rolled up and put away during the day. During harvest season, small farmers also lay them in the shoulder of the road and spread out their corn and beans to dry out in the sun. The top pic is the back and the bottom is the top/show side. My wife is wondering if I should protect them from damage with some plexiglass.

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              I'm pretty busy with work this week so I'll just let the poly cure the rest of the week. Next weekend I plan to adhere the panels to a plywood backing using some 3M 90 contact cement spray.

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              • #8
                I'm pretty much in the finishing stages of this build--which are slow and tedious. I really wish I brought my 5" ROS. I have a bunch of 5" pads but not the sander. What I do have is a Ryobi triangular corner sander. It has hook and loop so I am able to mate up my 5" pads but that Ridgid 5" is just a better sander.

                I digress. I inset steel channel brackets into the underside of the bar top to prevent cupping. I fixed most of the cupping when I treated the board for bugs but I added some extra insurance. I've never immediately had a reaction to wood, but I started coughing when I cut into this conacaste. I had to don a respirator for all the cutting and sanding of this board.

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                I finished the front frame and the woven panels are now installed into it. I used my track saw to cut all the kerfs in the panels to help it flex. I also cut a lot more kerfs in the frame, too, using my circular saw. My right wrist was shot that evening.

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                I'm really pleased with how this look came together.

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                The main bar is now mostly disassembled and I'm brushing on polyurethane.

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                Thanks for looking

                Paul

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                • #9
                  Certainly taking on shape and form. Lookin' good.
                  Loring in Katy, TX USA
                  If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
                  BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

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                  • #10
                    I'm pleased with the two coats on all the major components and the bar is reassembled.
                    I knew this was going to happen a couple weeks ago when I did an assembly dry run. When I measured for the width of the front panel, I didn't factor in the added thickness of the plywood panel (blue arrow) to leave me a lot of wiggle room.

                    I planned to miter this joint with my track saw to meet up with the side panel (red line), but don't have a lot of chances to get it right now. I'm thinking about forming a bead or small quirk with a router bit so any irregularities aren't too obvious.

                    I'm open to suggestions.

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