Bar Building Blog

7 Basic Bartending Skills to Master to Rock Your Home Bar

build a home bar
Installing a home bar is the start of a lot of fun: Your house will be the go-to for neighborhood parties, dinners with friends, and to watch Sunday’s game. Are you ready to be the star bartender your friends expect? Do you have the skills to throw together an old fashioned, a margarita, or a manhattan? If you don’t think you’re there yet, don’t worry; the skills needed to make great cocktails are basic and easy to learn! Here’s a quick guide to help you begin learning to make these cocktails and impress your guests.


Shaking is usually included in drinks that have fruit juice, egg, or dairy ingredients. Shaking introduces extra oxygen bubbles and creates a frothy appearance to the drink. To properly shake, you’ll need a shaker. Fill it halfway with ice, add your ingredients and shake vigorously (seriously, don’t be gentle), and then strain as you pour.


Stirring is a more subtle technique for a different kind of cocktail. When you’re stirring a cocktail, most likely that cocktail is something along the lines of a manhattan or martini composed of alcohol-only ingredients. The goal is to mix the drink just enough to make it smooth and allow the spirits to blend nicely; shaking with ice would dilute the drink. Use a long bar spoon and stir quickly to create a vortex in the center of the cocktail for about 30 seconds, let it rest, and then strain as you pour into another glass.


This is probably how you already make your cocktails – simply added the ingredients and giving it a little stir (no vortex!). The idea here is to simply make sure your alcohol and mixer are equally distributed. This method is most frequently used for drinks with carbonated ingredients, like your average Jack and Coke.

Topping Off

Even easier than building, topping off means simply to fill the glass with the instructed ingredient.


Some cocktail recipes call for a muddled ingredient (mojitos and old fashioneds are on this list). Reading this on the cocktail instructions might be confusing, but really all it takes is a muddler and your own strength. Simply put the ingredients in a shallow dish or bottom of a glass and grind until they are crushed and pulverized, releasing their essential oils and strong flavors. Once they look nice and ground up, add them to the rest of the cocktail ingredients and mix as instructed!


Obviously a needed skill, as it has been mentioned in two of the other skills you need to have! Straining is as simple as it sounds – you often will pour a drink after it was shaken or stirred through a strainer to make sure the cocktail doesn’t have any chunks of ingredients or seeds in it. Many shakers come with a built-in strainer, but if it doesn’t or you’re stirring a drink, you’ll want to buy a strainer. There are two primary types of strainers: hawthorne and julep strainers. Hawthorne strainers are supposed to be used when pouring from a tin and julep strainers when pouring from a glass. For your home bar, the difference doesn’t really matter, so one can serve both purposes. If you want to ensure that you get a perfectly clean pour, invest in a fine mesh strainer!


Throwing ingredients into a blender may seem easy enough, but there’s actually some tips you’ll want to follow to make sure those daquiris are as smooth and delicious as can be. Use fresh fruit if you can, and rinse it off before using. Remove the stems and skin and chop into cubes around 1 inch. Herbs should be rinsed as well and torn into smaller pieces with the stems removed. Once you’re ready to blend, add all of the ingredients in with ice. Crushed or cracked ice is your best bet, as it blends easier and will save your blender’s motor and blades in the long run. Hold on to the top of your blender and start at a low speed and use the pulse mode to chop down the ingredients and ice and then begin to work through the speed cycles from lowest to highest for a super smooth blended drink! Avoid using carbonated beverages in the blender, and make sure you clean the blender after each use and between different types of drinks.

With these basic bartending skills, you’re well on your way to concocting the best drinks in your neighborhood. Now that you have the skills, you’re just missing the home bar!

Quality Hardwood Bar Tops & Bar Pieces

At Hardwoods Incorporated, we want to make sure you can get a beautiful custom hardwood bar with the least hassle and at the most affordable price possible. Our complete library of bar-building resources is designed to answer as many of your questions as possible. If that doesn’t work, contact us and our skilled team can help you out!

What Is a Bar Rail, & How Do I Install One?

bar rail
You’ve probably used a bar rail, but just didn’t realize it. For a beautiful custom bar, installing a bar rail is an important part of making sure your bar looks professional and finished.

What Is a Bar Rail?

A bar rail is the decorative hardwood edging that borders the bar top on the front of your bar. Your customers or guests can lean up against it, and installing a bar rail gives your bar a polished, finished look that can rival any professionally built bar.

It is made with a curved, slightly sloping construction to provide comfort to guests and prevent glasses and other objects from sliding off the bar top.

High-quality bar rail will have a simple, notched-out rear profile, making it easy to install. At Hardwoods Incorporated, our solid wood bar rail is milled from a single piece of prime grade hardwood lumber. Not only does this construction give a quality finish, it also provides lasting durability and strength to your bar rail.

Different types of hardwood will suit different bar rail uses. For example, if you plan to build an outdoor bar, more weather-resistant hardwoods such as teak or mahogany will provide the longest-lasting bar rail. We offer bar rails in a wide variety of hardwood species, including red oak, cherry, hard maple, black walnut, poplar, and rare species.

How Do I Install a Bar Rail?

The instructions for installing your bar rail are going to depend upon where you got it from. If you bought your bar rail from Hardwoods Incorporated, it’s really easy!

You’ll need a drill, glue, screws, spoil board, biscuit joiner, and biscuits.

>>Watch our bar rail installation video!>>

First, set up your spoil board against your bar subtop to hold the bar rail in position while cutting. Set your miter box angle at 45 degrees and position the bar rail on the spoil board to make the first cut.

Next, reset the miter box to the opposite 45-degree angle and position the other piece of your bar rail for another cut.

After you make both cuts, check the pieces for proper fit and make any adjustments necessary. Next, drill pilot holes into your subtop every 12 inches. If you so choose, you can make a biscuit joint on the bar rail miter for added strength, but this step is not necessary.

Apply glue to the subtop and to the top notch of the bar rail. Brush the glue into a thin layer on the sub top and bar rail for a closer fit. After applying the glue, use clamps with blocking to hold the bar rail in position while it dries.

Finally, using the pilot holes you drilled into the subtop, secure the bar rail to the bar top from underneath with screws. Once you do some light sanding and apply a water-resistant finish, your bar top will be ready to serve your guests all those tasty drinks!

>>Need help finishing your bar rail? Get tips here!>>

Quality Hardwood Bar Rails for Home & Commercial Use

At Hardwoods Incorporated, we offer only the highest-quality bar rails and bar building parts in a variety of hardwood species, made in our workshop in central Maryland. We want to make sure you have the best possible experience building your own bar, so we have compiled some helpful bar-building resources for you to reference. Or, if you want extra help, reach out to us and we’re happy to help during normal business hours!

Specializing in Building Bars For Over 40 Years.

For over 40 years we have been building commercial bars and assisting contractors, builders and home owners to do it yourself with our bar rail moldings, bar top and bar front parts made to exacting standards by us in our facility. We never sub contract our work or import parts of questionable quality. What we offer on our website is what you get, you order an 8′ section of bar rail you get 8′ in one piece not 2 pieces 4′. We even offer wood species and extra long lengths of bar rail molding you can’t buy anywhere else. Pictured below are a few examples of our larger commercial and and home bar projects made with our bar parts.

Bar Top Slabs

Pictured here is a large commercial bar completed for the “American Legion in Ocean City New Jersey” featuring extra long lengths of our BR475 Bar rail molding and matching radius corners all custom milled from quartersawn sapele mahogany.

Building a Home Bar

Here we have another large commercial bar “Tellers in Bushnell, Illinois” this bar was complated using our BR550 Traditional wood bar armrest molding, matching radius corners and custom size main bar top kits.

Building a Home Bar

Large home bars are starting to become more popular as well, this nice size L shaped home bar was completed using our American Black walnut bar top kits, BR475 curved bar rail molding and matching straight bar rail sections. A fine job by our DIY customer Samuel in Mount Pleasant Wisconsin.

Whatever you call it Chicago bar rail, Traditional wood bar armrest molding or bar edge trim we make and stock seven different models to choose from in a myriad of sizes and wood species for prompt shipment worldwide.Drip Edges and Natural Edge Bar Top SlabsBR475 Bar rail molding.

BR475-S Original Chicago Bar rail MoldingDrip Edges and Natural Edge Bar Top Slabs
Drip Edges and Natural Edge Bar Top SlabsBR550 Bar rail molding.Drip Edges and Natural Edge Bar Top SlabsBR650 Large Chicago Style Bar rail molding.

Drip Edges and Natural Edge Bar Top SlabsBR450 Traditional Wood Bar Armrest Molding.

Drip Edges and Natural Edge Bar Top Slabs

BR158 Bar rail/DrinkRail Molding.
Drip Edges and Natural Edge Bar Top SlabsBR475-3CM Bar rail Molding for use on3 CM granite bar tops.

Affordable, Quality Hardwood Bar Parts for Every Bar

At Hardwoods Incorporated, we pride ourselves on making only the highest-quality hardwood bar tops, bar rail molding, and bar parts so you can have exactly the look you want at a fraction of the cost. Check out our in-stock selection in a variety of beautiful hardwoods, or contact us to request any of our products in a custom specie. We look forward to hearing from you! 1-844-BAR-RAIL



DIY Home Bars from Hardwoods Incorporated.

At Hardwoods Incorporated we’ve had the privileged of working some pretty talented home owners, contractors and do-it-yourselfers. Pictured below is a sampling of recently completed home bars submitted by customers using our bar building products.

Home Bar Top Slabs, Glass Rails, Drip Edges

This L shaped home bar was completed by Jeff R. in Elgin IL using our BR475 bar rail moldings and matching radius corner.

Home Bar Top Slabs, Glass Rails, Drip Edges

Here we have a beautiful front and back bar with an overhead canopy and lighting crafted by Bryan S. in Hudson FL trimmed with our BR475 Bar rail.

Home Bar Top Slabs, Glass Rails, Drip Edges

Pictured is a nice little DIY home bar crafted by Luke B. in Rock Island IL This bar features our Traditional wood bar arm rest molding BR475 with a cropped corner and 135 degree angled return.

Home Bar Top Slabs, Glass Rails, Drip Edges

Lastly we have an elegant L shaped home bar and back bar with a rich dark stain custom crafted by Tony G. in Coatesville PA. The BR475 Chicago style bar rail molding with a long angled corner softens the overall look of the bar.

We are proud of our customers and their do-it-yourself efforts, some have never built a home bar or have any woodworking experience. If you are ready to get started on your home bar project and are looking for ideas and inspiration, look no further we offer a full library of bar-building resources to make creating the perfect bar an enjoyable project you feel confident tackling. Hardwoods Incorporated has what you need to create a beautiful, custom bar. Our affordable bar parts come in a variety of wood species to meet any look, or contact us for a custom order.

Thank you for considering Hardwoods Incorporated.

Traditional Wood Bar Arm Rest Molding In Stock For Prompt Shipment!

We have our BR475 Traditional wood bar arm rest molding in stock for immediate shipment in oak, poplar, maple, cherry and mahogany no waiting, no back orders and no excuses. We can even ship this molding up to 106″ long in one piece by UPS allowing you to build a bigger home bar. Need a longer length or matching radius corner? No problem we stock radius corners and bar rail moldings up to 16′ long. We can make these assurances because we manufacture everything we sell and rely on no one to make it for us.

Drip Edge DIY Bar Top

At Hardwoods Incorporated, we pride ourselves on making only the highest-quality hardwood bar tops, bar rail molding, and bar parts so you can have exactly the look you want at a fraction of the cost. Check out our in-stock selection in a variety of domestic and exotic hardwoods, or contact us to request any of our products in a custom specie. We look forward to hearing from you! 1-844-BAR-RAIL

Thank you for considering Hardwoods Incorporated.


Bar Building 101: Major Parts of a Typical Bar

You’ve decided to build your own home bar and have figured out where you’ll locate it and some basic measurements. Now, it’s time to begin sketching out the rough design for your bar, adding and subtracting features. Before you get started, you’ll need to know the basic parts of a typical bar:

Front Bar

The front bar is exactly what it sounds like – The front of the bar. This is the area where your guests will sit and sip their drinks. Of all the areas of your home bar, this is the one where design and guest comfort should be foremost in your mind. You want to make sure your guests have adequate space for their comfort. We recommend 42” for your total bar height – to accommodate 12” of space between the standard 30” tall bar stool and the bottom of the bar top.

There are several basic parts of the front bar:

Bar Top

This is the main slab where drinks, food, and your guests’ arms rest. It can be made of wood, granite, or any other solid, non-porous surface. Most bar tops are 16-18” wide to provide ample room for serving and holding drinks and other items.

>> Check out Hardwoods’s in-stock bar top slabs!

Bar Wall

The bar wall is the vertical piece that supports the bar top and separates the front bar from the back bar. It usually is made of wood, but can be made of concrete, stone, or other solid surface depending on the look desired. Most bar walls are 40 1/2” tall, though they can be taller or shorter. Bar walls are a great place to attach fluted columns or other trim for decorative purposes. Our fluted columns come in three pieces, with the center portion measuring 3/4” x 4 1/2” x 31”. The bottom plinth block is 1” x 4 1/2” x 7”, and the top cap block is 1” x 4 1/2” x 5”. They are made to fit the standard 40 1/2”-tall bar wall, but can be adjusted to fit any size bar wall and are up to 43’’ tall.

>> Fluted columns add flair to your front bar!

Bar Rail

Bar rails are concave moldings placed at the edge of the bar top for a place for guests to rest their arms, to keep glasses and other objects on the bar top, and to give your bar a polished look. Our bar rails come in a variety of profiles and wood species, and can be made to fit any length of bar.

>> Get a professional bar look at home with our bar rail moldings!

Foot Rail

Made from wood or metal, the foot rail is placed near the floor to give your guests an additional level of comfort. It typically is placed 5-8” off the floor.

>> Enhance your guests’ comfort with a foot rail!

Back Bar

The back bar is the business area of your bar. It’s where drinks are mixed and poured, and all your liquor, glassware, and other supplies are kept. You need enough room in the back bar to accommodate all the storage you need and to allow you ample space to move around. Ultimately, the back bar is about function over form. There are a few optional features you can add to your back bar for some additional style and functionality:

Glass Rail

The glass rail is a flat piece of wood attached to the back of the bar top, meant to hold glasses as you mix drinks. Our glass rails come in a variety of wood species and can be made to fit any length of bar.

>> Add some extra space with a glass rail!

Drip Edge

A drip edge attaches perpendicularly to the back edge of the glass rail. It is meant to catch spills and crumbs from the bar top and glass rail so they don’t fall onto the floor.

>> Protect your floors with a drip edge!

Under Bar

With the under bar, it is all about function. This is the area underneath your bar, in the back bar area, where you can install sinks, drink refrigerators, kegs, or even microwaves for those tasty bar snacks. Much of your basic glassware and mixers also will be stored under here, so typical under bars feature shelving.

Quality Hardwood Bar Parts for Every Bar

At Hardwoods Incorporated, it is our goal to provide only the highest quality bar rails and bar parts, allowing you to build the bar of your dreams. Browse our in-stock bar parts, or contact us to discuss your special order.

Build a bigger home bar with 9′ short bar rail molding!

Build a bigger home bar with our new 9′ short bar rail moldings. They ship as one piece, full length 106″ long by UPS with affordable shipping nationwide. With the addition of matching radius corners, it is now possible to make a U shaped bar top over 11′ long without a seam in the bar rail molding.

Curved Bar Rail Top- Natural Edge Bar Top Slabs

If your home bar design is L shaped then add a matching radius corner to our 9′ short bar rail molding for a seamless bar top over 10′ long.

Curved bar rai top

The 9′ short bar rail moldings are offered in our 5 star top rated BR475 and BR550 models for now with plans to expand our offerings into all bar rail models and wood species.

If you are looking to craft a cozy home bar to create a gathering place for your friends, or want beautiful parts for your commercial bar, Hardwoods Incorporated offers a full line of customer top rated bar-building parts at affordable prices. Our quick shipping and outstanding customer support make us stand out from the other guys. Give us a call – You’ll be glad you did!


Get a Beautiful Custom Look for Your Bar Top with Hardwoods Incorporated’s Bar Rail Radius Corners

Do you want the look of rounded corners on your home bar, but think they’ll be more difficult to install than a square corner? With our bar rail radius corners, it doesn’t have to be!

Not only do curved corners provide a clean, polished look to your bar top, but they are more comfortable for guests and may be less expensive than purchasing two lengths of wood and creating a square corner.

Our bar rail radius corners are easy-to-install and don’t require the use of extra pieces, such as shims or scrap wood to place between layers. They’re made to install on two layers of ¾” thick material; lumber for the main bar top and plywood for the subtop, which are available in nearly any home improvement store.

Bar Rail Radius Corner | Hardwoods Incorporated

In every 6” and 12” radius corner order, we include a paper template for you to cut out and trace directly onto your bar top and sub top. This takes all the guesswork out of marking off your corner; just cut out the template, measure, trace using the template, and you’re ready to cut! Step-by-step instructions also are included with every radius corner order so you can have them handy when building your bar.

Once you have your rounded corners marked and cut, piecing together your bar top, sub top, bar rail, and radius corner is a snap. See how easy installing our BR 475, BR 475-S, BR 550, and BR 158 bar rail radius corners can be in the video below:

Superior Hardwood Bar Tops and Bar Parts

Whether you’re building your first bar or your 500th, Hardwoods Incorporated has the materials you need to create a beautiful, custom bar. Our affordable bar parts come in a variety of wood species to meet any look, or contact us for a custom order. We offer a full library of bar-building resources to make creating the perfect bar an enjoyable project you feel confident tackling.

Want To Build a Bar? Start Here!

So you’ve made the decision: You want to build your very own custom bar. Congratulations! But now that you’ve made the decision to build, what’s next? This practical guide will help you through the beginning stages of building a home or commercial bar on your own:

Choose Your Space

What sort of bar are you looking to build? Do you want an indoor bar, or an outdoor bar? Obviously, weather will be a major determining factor in answering this question. You’re less likely to spring for a fancy outdoor bar if your backyard is covered in snow for most of the year. However, if you plan to keep most of your bar-related entertaining to the summer months – Memorial Day barbecues, pool parties, and 4th of July fireworks – you may want to consider an outdoor bar even if you live in a colder climate.

When choosing your space, indoors or outdoors, make sure the area you’re choosing is large enough for the number of guests you’d like to entertain and any features you want to include. A good rule of thumb for bar length is about 2′ wide for every person you plan to seat at your bar, or a little less if you’re going for a cozier feel. If you plan to include extras, like a TV or pool table, either choose a space large enough to house all these features or scale down somewhere – in either your extras or the size of your bar – to accommodate. No matter what, make sure the space you plan to build is level, up-to-code, has proper ventilation, and is able to be heated and cooled to your personal preferences. There’s nothing worse than spending a bunch of money crafting the perfect basement bar only to find out no one wants to hang out there because it’s too cold!

Take Some measurements

Once you have your space sorted out, it’s time to pull out your measuring tape or yardstick and get to crunching some numbers. Rough out the length of your bar, its distance from the behind-bar wall and any walls on the seating side, and space for any additional features, such as extra seating. Check out our Standard Bar Dimensions & Specifications page for more information on some basic measurements for the bar itself to get an idea of how much space you’ll need.

The bigger your bar, the more money you’ll end up spending. This is especially true if you plan to include beer taps or multiple refrigerators. Look around and start pricing out some of the essential features you want in your bar, including shelving and seating, so you can adjust your plans early in the game if necessary.

Pick Your Look

After you’ve got some of the big early decisions out of the way, it’s time to choose your bar’s style. Are you a fan of the Irish pub look? Or do you crave a sleek, contemporary atmosphere? Do you want your friends to feel as if they’re in their own personal sports bar? Figuring out exactly how you want your bar to look is one of the most interesting and fun parts of building your own bar, so take your time! Check around the internet for some inspiration, and don’t be afraid to think a little different. This is your bar, so make it reflect your tastes!

Whatever look you decide on is going to determine everything, from your bar top down to the pictures on the walls. A good rule of thumb is to pick one or two non-negotiable items that you must have in your bar, and choose everything else from there. Whether those non-negotiables are a favorite athlete’s framed jersey or a map of the London Underground, picking some focal points or style inspiration pieces can help you create a cohesive look more easily.

Affordable, Quality Hardwood Bar Parts for Every Bar

At Hardwoods Incorporated, we pride ourselves on making only the highest-quality hardwood bar tops, bar rail molding, and bar parts so you can have exactly the look you want at a fraction of the cost. Check out our in-stock selection in a variety of beautiful hardwoods, or contact us to request any of our products in a custom specie. We look forward to hearing from you!

Choosing the Best Bar Rail for Your Project: A Guide

Adding a bar rail to your home bar can take it from so-so to stunning. Bar rails feature rounded edges, softening the sharp corners or bar tops and other pieces, providing a spot for your guests to comfortably rest their arms.

At Hardwoods Incorporated, our bar rails come in a variety of profiles and finishes. There’s an option for every type and style of home bar, from rustic and simple to ultra-ornate.



bar top rail - BR-450
The BR-450 bar rail is one of our simplest, most affordable options that still provides a beautiful, polished finish to your home bar. It features a gentle slope and rounded edge, and is perfect for staining in a variety of finishes.

They are made with 3/4” x 1 3/4” notches, ready to install on any single- or double-layer bar top at least 3/4” thick.

The BR-450 can be paired with an optional drip edge to create a sleek apron along the under edge of the bar top, as pictured below:

BR450 with optional drip edge apron - Copy



Our BR-158 bar rail is a popular choice for small bars, drink rails, or even bar seating along a wall, where the flatter profile is essential for saving space. Its gently curving front edge provides detail and interest.

The BR-158 bar rails are 1 5/8” x 2 1/2” and are easy to install on any bar top kit.



The BR-475 Chicago bar rail is a classic choice for home and commercial bars alike. Its gentle sloping front provides comfort for you and your guests while showcasing the beauty of the wood. The back features two notches, making it perfect for use on a double-layer bar.

The 4 3/4”-wide bar rail is easy to install and gives your bar a professional look and feel.



Our BR-550 Chicago bar rail features a slighter slope and wider rail for those larger bars or bars where you want to make a bold finishing statement. Like the BR-475, it features two notches for easy installation on double-layer bars.

The BR-550 is 5 1/2” wide.



The BR-650 Chicago bar rail is the widest bar rail we offer. It also boasts the cleanest, simplest profile for those bars that just want a finishing touch without being fancy.

It is 6 1/2” wide and comes with two notches on the back for easy installation on single- and double-layer bar tops.

Quality, Handcrafted Bar Building Parts

If you are looking to craft a cozy home bar to create a gathering place for your friends, or want beautiful parts for your commercial bar, Hardwoods Incorporated offers a full line of bar-building parts at affordable prices. Our quick shipping and outstanding customer support make us stand out from the other guys. Give us a call – You’ll be glad you did!