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How to ? a 24 foot long bar....

3906 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  TexasTimbers
I had a nice German couple drop by the shop the other day and they looked at a couple of Pecan tables, they liked the color and grain of the Pecan and inquired as to having a 24 foot long x 18" wide long bar with a 2.5 inch drop edge and also an 8 foot L section at one end. Well I have never made anything that big or long and was wondering about the overall logistics of this project. I thought at first it should be built in sections but then again I want it to look seamless. I do not have enough dry 1×12 so the material I would use is a pallet of 1"x6"x8' long kiln dried pecan boards, some spalted, some not, as I want to avoid any checks or splits. The bar is going in a new BierGarten in a small town about 45 minutes away.

Any thoughts or design or implementation ideas would be appreciated….

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I would consider building in place or at least sections that can have final assembly in place. I think it would would be easiest to do in place. 45 minute trip (1-1/2 hour each day) adds up, I would include this time in my estimate. Lot of gluing, clamping, sanding and mess if they want to be open while you work. Lot of mess even if they are not open. I am just finishing up a 10 foot bar top and 28 table tops and was able to run everything through a thickness sander ($90.00 per hour), glad I didn't have to do that much belt and finish sanding by hand.
Ok I think I can help you out! Did you say it was a German couple? cool!

Your plan to do it in one piece is good, I am guessing that you are going to have to butt together two pieces anyway, because unless there are any sources of 24 foot pecan lumber…. it might be difficult, I am not certian on the available lengths of pecan What you could also consider is using a what we call a "ship" pattern of putting the boards together, so stagering the boards, so you have a row of 2 boards than a row of three or something in that manner. I think this would work great. Have you asked them if they wanted it solid, because veneer might be easier to handle and to seam up togther, depending what kind of set up you have in your shop. Not to mention of course the availablity of pecan veneer.

If you do do it in two pieces 8 feet long I could recommend joining the two 8 foot sections with each other using a tongue and groove method, that way the table can expand (as it will be outside) and contract with the weather. The table you must keep straight with the expansion and contraction by the use of sliding dovetails or perhaps even steel rods, or bars that are set into pockets to keep the table straight, just keep track of where they are and you can drill and tap out threads to screw into and attach the legs or base/strechers of the table to that. That is how I would do it.

These would be the "text book " solutions that we would use here, but….

Keep in mind also Biergartenbänke (ein bank, zwei bänke, see German is easy), that we have here are usualy made of economical (I do not like to use the word cheap because they are sturdy) wood (pine, fir…) and are attached underneath with steel legs and the top is screwed to this steel folding legs with carraige bolts (the ones with the rounded tops) so a person can see the heads of the bolts from the top of the table while enjoying beer. Usually people do not care because it is often covered with a table cloth, but sometimes not…. the main event is usually the beer (especially during Oktoberfest).

The cross piece you could attach in the middle with biscuits but only in the middle say 8 cm, other wise such a wide piece in the outside could eventually start to move and cause the splitting you mentioned. If it must stay flush on one end, you could attach it there with dowels or biscuits, and perhaps some sort of "false tongue" that could fit into a groove cut into both sides, without glue, and if you wanted to make it easy, you could forget the biscuits and just apply glue for about 8 cm on of the ends or in the middle, depending on what your needs are, so it would stay fixed, the table would stay straight on the end where it is attached and still move along the "false tongue" with moisture changing.

I would also be interested in what kind of bier they are serving there, you know, I think I might have another one now, its the right time of the evening!

I hope I could help! Und bitte sagen, "Grüß Gott, aus Bayern!" or "Servus!"
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On a span that long, you better check where it's going before starting, if the building cement floor or wooden? Is it level? You may have to build it to the floor…..
I'd build the bottom part in sections, use the spalted parts for the bar top. Get that kind of sealer you pour, real thick…..wont have to worry about any checks or anything, plus the spalted wood is the prettiest.
How would you transport , pick up and get a 24' long bar through a door? I doubt they will want to close for a few days while you turn the whole bar into a sawdust collector.
Just my opinion….................yoda
Thank you for your thoughts and ideas my friends they have helped a lot, several heads are always better than one :) I was needing some comrades to look at this from different angles, experience..etc.. and you did that well….

Bones, you are realistic and "shoot from the hip" (Was that 90 ph for using the drum sander?)
Walds, I lived in Germany for 3 years as a USAF brat, but I loved it, the black forest and the snow..and your ideas are solid! and well taken :)
Yoda, I figured I would use the "Force", hehe, but you are right….We need to answer all yours and my questions above and then some… :) I will do a site visit next weekend and get Wald's a Bier list…hehe.. Thanx

Be Well and God Bless….
Just another thought, the bar maid stations on a long bar are a great place to make a break in the bar, because there are usually brass bars that section off that part of the bar from the rest…..keeps the drunks away.
Find out where they want the bar maid sections and break the bar there…..less likely to be seen…...
just a thought….......................yoda
Get a long trailer and build it in the shop. Then on the job site you can cut it into what ever size you need to get it in the door….well maybe I'm not much help.
Even with brand-new construction, there is no way I would attempt to build something that long off-site, even in sections, and then transport to the site. If it is an older building (even 4 or 5 years old) then its almost guaranteed that nothing is staright and/or level anymore. There's just no way to make sure it is level and sections are tight across that distance. You might be able to do shorter sections off-site and then build some sections on-site between them to eat up the differences. If you want the long section of the top level and flat it almost has to be done on-site and there will still be a lot of fussin' and fightin'.

I own an 80 year old house and sometimes even across an 8 foot section section is a pain. I've taken to building most everything in place in my house from kitchen cabinets to a bathroom vanity.
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I've made counters out of solid wood up to 35 feet long and I made them in the shop and delivered them in one piece.

staggered joinery much like a hardwood floor is done
Clearly the other commenters here are far more accomplished than I, but when you said "bar" the first thing I thought of was the one pictured in the Swenson and Swenson web site gallery

I'm not sure how much you can glean from these, but you might be able to pull some tips from Per and Bob Swenson on making a bar over at Wood Shop Demos . Looks like they built it in pieces and aligned it with Dominos. Per has been pretty friendly when I've chatted with him on various online forums, might want to aks him if you've got specific questions about how they pulled that one off (I think he's mostly hanging out over at TalkFestool nowadays).
I think you are getting ahead of yourself. Unless you haven't told us everything, you do not yet know exactly what your customers want other than species and dimension. Have you discussed with them in detail how they see this bar once finished?

If not, you better back up and have a nice long sit-down with them. No matter how enamored they were in your shop, once their bar begins to unfold in front of their eyes, if it isn't what they envisioned in their own mids's eye - (and don't think they haven't already built it themselves during their many conversations about it)- then you've got a serious problem deep, deep into the project.

Before you decide on a construction method, joinery, on-site vs off site, you better first spend the time with them to know exactly what they expect. You have to dig details out of them if they seem too easy to please. That will bite you in the butt.
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