Monday, July 9, 2012

Building A Sturdy Half Wall Bar Top

This seams basic but I had trouble finding much info on building sturdy half walls. Everything I found involved mounting them to cabinets or benches for stability but I didn't have the room for that. So yeah, here's how I built my half wall:

Construct Half Wall 

Build your wall up like any normal half wall and make sure you have a secure mount to your king stud and subfloor (floor joists if possible). The double top plates probably weren't necessary.

Screw 3/4" plywood into all the studs, especially the king stud and the floor plate. I even ran some long deck screws diagonally down through the floor plate and into the sub floor. 3/4" thick probably isn't necessary. You could probably get away with 1/2" if you're trying to keep the wall thinner.

After all your electrical is ran, skin the other side in plywood making sure you have a nice solid mount to your king stud and floor boards. I know this won't give you the best accessibility for electrical mods down the road but I know no other way unless you're okay with a slightly wobbly wall.

Test out the rigidity of your half wall by drinking a beer on it.

Installing Counter

I really wanted a sturdy bar top for it (and I didn't know if I was going to use quarbles or not yet) so I designed a 12 gauge sheet metal bracket to mount the butcher block top to. I have 2 more of these if anyone wants them. Or I can send you the CAD drawing...

 Shim the bracket to make sure it's level. (Plywood removed so I could install T-nuts for the corbels I decided on using.)

Fully install the bracket to make sure everything's level. I had to notch channels in the top plate for the bracket flanges.

Corbels test fit so I could pre drill the holes and install the T-nuts in the back of the plywood. This is probably not the best way of doing this but once again, I wanted to make sure it'd be strong and not just a pointless aesthetic piece.

Remove everything, reinstall plywood, attach drywall, mud and paint.

Bolt bracket back up, once again making sure all is level.

Bracket was designed so the butcher block could be blind screwed and removable.

 Stain and install butcher block.

Reinstalled corbels. I also drilled vertical holes and ran wood screws up into the butcher block.

Installed trim, filled and sanded the holes. You'll notice this of course eliminates my ability to remove the butcher block later. Oh well, wanted it strong...

 All caulked and painted (with electrical protector bracket installed).


 So yeah, nothing too fancy. It's sturdy (I danced on it - no wobbling) and doesn't take up much room. Here's a finished picture with the electrical covered.


  1. Good stuff, thanks! (Corbels)

  2. this is exactly what i want to do to my existing half wall. how wide is the bar top? do you have enough room for your legs/knees?

    1. It's 8.5" from the wall to the edge of the bar top. It is enough room for my legs but I definitely wouldn't go any shorter than this if you want to sit at it comfortably.

  3. Greetings,
    nice stuff!

    Wondering if you were the one who removed that wall, and if so how much of a headache it was?

    1. So sorry for the late reply (figured no one was reading this site)... The wall was really easy to remove if you have a reciprocating saw and a "wonder bar" and mallet. I was just careful to not damage the drywall running along the top (the portion that touches the ceiling).

    2. And I should have stated this earlier but of course make sure you're not removing a load bearing wall. There are many ways to determine this but in my case the wall was running parallel to the ceiling joists which meant it wasn't bearing any load from above.

  4. Still have those sheet metal brackets? I'd buy one from you If you think they'd be a universal fit..

  5. I may also be interested in a bracket.

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  7. Still have those brackets? I'd like to buy one. My email is Thanks


  8. Great work and thanks for the write-up.

    Question - I need to do a similar half wall, but in an "L"-shape to enclose a space and make an office. Would you happen to know how to install 2 panes of tempered on top and up to the ceiling?

  9. Looks great! Just curious how you installed the lighting fixture/box (into im assuming 2x4 header)? Thanks

  10. Hey Ryan. They're fancied up Ikea lights which come with a long wire so you can just install junction boxes in the attic and run your light's wire all the way up to that. That way all your connections will be in your junction boxes in the attic rather than in inaccessible small holes in your header.

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  12. Hi Michael,
    What are the dimensions of your butcher block? And where did you get it? Is it a custom butcher block?
    Thanks for sharing your work, this is super useful!