How to build a raised breakfast bar

Updated February 21, 2017

A breakfast bar in a kitchen is an added feature that makes life easier. You can use it to fill the purpose the name suggests, or it can be the perfect place to entertain guests serving their favourite beverages. We will use medium density fiberboard (MDF) to construct this raised breakfast bar because it has a smooth surface, making it easy to apply a finish.

Measure the length of the existing cabinet, subtract one inch and cut three two-by-fours to that length. Lay two of the two-by-fours side by side on the table. Measure from one end and mark every 16 inches until you reach the length of the two-by-four.

Make a mark ¾-inch away from either side of those marks. Place a carpenter's square on these marks and draw lines across the two two-by-fours.

Measure from one end of two more two-by-fours and make a mark at 42 inches. Cut these with the electric mitre saw. Cut a 37½-inch stud for the ends of the longer pieces and one for every mark you made in Steps 1 and 2. Place the two long pieces of lumber on top of the two 37½-inch pieces of lumber and secure them with 16d box nails. Next, place a stud for every mark made and secure them with 16d nails. Place the third two-by-four on top of the wall and secure it with 16d nails.

Set the fence of the table saw at 42 inches and rip the 96-inch length of the MDF. Measure the length of the wall you built and mark it accordingly on the MDF. In addition, cut two pieces of the ½-inch MDF to 4½-by-42-inches. If your wall is longer than 48 inches, it will be necessary to use a second sheet of the material.

Lay the stud wall down flat and place one of the pieces of material cut with the table saw on top of it. Secure it to the wall with 8d finish nails. Repeat this for the other side and the two ends of the wall. Place the wall against the back of the cabinet and secure it to the cabinet through inside back of the cabinet itself with one-inch drywall screws.

Place the piece of MDF that is 18-by-(length of the bar)-by-¾-inches.

Measure the length of your wall, add three inches to it and cut the material to that length.

Apply some glue to the 1½-inch side of the 1½-by-18-by-¾-inch MDF. Place them on the ends of the bar top slab and secure them with 6d box nails.

Measure the distance between these two pieces from Step 2 and cut two more pieces of the 1½-by-¾-inch MDF. Apply some glue to the 1½-inch side of these and secure them between the two 18-inch pieces with 6d box nails. These four pieces create a 1½-inch edge around the top.

Turn the top over so that the pieces just installed are on the bottom. Measure in 3-inches along one of the long edges and make a mark every 8-inches. Drill countersink holes on every mark. Apply glue to the top of the wall built in the previous section and set the bar top on it. Secure it to the wall through the countersink holes from Step 3 with the 1½-inch drywall screws.

Fill the countersink holes with wood putty and allow it to dry before you sand it. Cover the bar top with your favourite covering that will either complement or match the existing cabinet tops.


Always wear safety glasses. Sanding the edges of the bar top will help the bar top covering to adhere better. As an option, you can substitute sheet rock for the MDF.


Do not set the blade of the table saw any higher than necessary to make the cut. Be certain the area as well ventilated before covering the bar top. Do not leave the power tools unattended.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-4-inch spruce lumber
  • 1 sheet of ½-inch MDF (48-by-96-by-½-inches)
  • 1 piece of 18-by-(length of the bar)-by-¾-inch MDF
  • 2 pieces 1½-inch-by-18-by-¾-inch MDF
  • 2 pieces 1½-by-(length of the bar)-by-¾-MDF
  • Table saw
  • Circular saw
  • Electric mitre saw
  • Variable speed drill
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Philips head screw tip
  • 1½-inch drywall screws
  • 1-inch drywall screws
  • 8d finish nails
  • 16d box nails
  • 6d box nails
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About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.