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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? Here’s how to turn an old sink into a unique and functioning outdoor bar.

An outdoor bar made with a salvaged sink and a red skirt. Kristine Larsen

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 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. You can drain wastewater into a bucket placed below the sink or, if you hook the faucet to a garden hose, it can be diverted 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.

Pro 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.

Left Image: Assembling a bench. Right image: Measuring a sink basin Kristine Larsen

Step 1: Assemble The Bench Kit

Leave off the upper shelf. Next, cut a piece of scrap wood to the length of the benchtop 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.

Step 2: Measure The Basin

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

Left Image: a woman uses a ruler to outline the basins footprint on the tip of the bar. Right Image: a jigsaw cutting the opening for the sink. Kristine Larsen

Step 3: Outline the Basin

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

Step 4: Cut a Hole for the Basin

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.

Two women lifting the salvaged sink into the countertop. Kristine Larsen

Step 5: Position the Sink

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

Left Image: Caulk being applied around the sink. Right Image: One image holds the bar shelf while the other uses a drill to secure it. Kristine Larsen

Step 6: Seal Around The Sink

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.

Step 7: Attach the Shelf

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

Left Image: Installing hooks for the curtain rod. Right Image: Hanging a curtain on a dowel. Kristine Larsen

Step 8: Install Hooks for the Curtain Rod

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.

Step 9: Hang the Curtain

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.

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