backyard bar built from salvaged cast-iron sink
More in Salvage

How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

They look great and work even better, but did you know a vintage kitchen sink can also improve your social life?

For months my coworker Hylah Hill has been inviting me to her boyfriend's lakefront cottage. Sure, she enjoys my company. But she also wanted to build the outdoor bar that we'd designed together way back in winter—dreaming of cocktails on the deck pulled us out of our February funk. The core of the project is a 1950s cast-iron sink that Hylah got at a salvage yard for $200. It's supported by a $279 cedar potting bench that we assembled in about an hour from a kit. Stoppered and filled with ice, the basin is great for chilling beers. Drain waste water into a bucket placed below the sink or, if you hook the faucet to a garden hose, divert it through PVC pipe. To hide the bottom storage shelf, Hylah stitched a colorful skirt made from four yards of Sunbrella fabric that she'd bought for $67.

TOH Tip

Stains can mean the difference between a $100 and a $400 sink. So get the cheap one and clean it outside. Pour on a 50-50 mix of muriatic acid and water. Wait 10 seconds, then hit it with a garden hose. To be safe, wear gloves and eye protection.
- Josh White, Salvage Dealer,Barnegat, N.J.


Steps // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar
1 ×

Assemble The Bench Kit

 
Step One // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Assemble The Bench Kit

Assemble The Bench Kit
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Leave off the upper shelf. Next, cut a piece of scrap wood to the length of the bench top and secure it to the back edge with 1½-inch stainless-steel screws. Combined with wood braces that link the strip to the bench's back legs, the assembly will give the bench extra strength to hold the 50-pound sink.

 
2 ×

Measure The Basin

 
Step Two // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Measure The Basin

Measure The Basin
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Measure the basin on all four sides to calculate how big a hole to make in the bench top to fit the sink inside.

 
3 ×

Outline the Basin

 
Step Three // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Outline the Basin

Trace The Outline
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Trace the outline of the basin on the bench top, using a framing square and a carpenter's pencil.

 
4 ×

Cut a Hole for the Basin

 
Step Four // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Cut a Hole for the Basin

Slice Along The Lines
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Slice along the lines with a jigsaw. To reinforce the sides of the opening, use 1-inch screws to secure two of the cut wood slats beneath the bench top, one perpendicular to its boards on the right and one on the left.

 
5 ×

Position the Sink

 
Step Five // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Position the Sink

Lift The Sink
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Lift the sink and carefully ease the basin into the cutout in the bench top.

 
6 ×

Seal Around The Sink

 
Step Six // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Seal Around The Sink

Seal Around The Sink
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Seal around the sink with clear silicone caulk. For a crisp line, lay painter's tape along the gap between the sink lip and the wood top.

 
7 ×

Attach the Shelf

 
Step Seven // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Attach the Shelf

Attach The Upper Shelf
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Attach the upper shelf unit by driving 1½-inch screws into the bench's predrilled holes.

 
8 ×

Install Hooks for the Curtain Rod

 
Step Eight // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Install Hooks for the Curtain Rod

Twist Eyebolts
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Twist eyebolts into the underside of the bench frame at the corners and in the center. Predrill holes first to keep the wood from splitting.

 
9 ×

Hang the Curtain

 
Step Nine // How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar

Hang the Curtain

Cut Three Dowels
Photo by Kenneth Chen

Cut three dowels to the length of the bench top's sides and front to serve as curtain rods. Slip the dowels through the eyebolts, and attach the fabric curtain. Then crack open the tequila, start mixing, and toast a job well done.

 
 
 

TV Listings

Find TV Listing for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.