2011 Honda Odyssey et al.: Building My Bar
February 22, 2012
When I moved last June, I had to abandon by beloved bar. I had made it with a friend after college and it was a clutch performer at any get together big or small. It was the place people convened as much as the place I stored the booze. Yet sadly, the old bar was too wide for my new man cave and too unwieldy to get into my basement without something being destroyed.
A new bar was needed, so with the guidance of general foreman Mark Takahashi (pictured) and sky-high expectations for what we could achieve, the bar build commenced. Naturally, quite a few long-term cars were used in the process.
The requirements were to build something deep enough to hold a mini fridge, but only be 4-feet wide to fit in the space in my man cave. Beyond that, we had a blank slate. Mark and I were chatting and we both came up with the zany, hairbrained idea of making the bar resemble a Star Trek computer console. Specifically, one from The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine (Voyager too I suppose, but let's not talk about that). Mark came up with the blueprints in Adobe Illustrator and decided we should build a relatively simple three-side box on the bottom with the top appearing to float above it. I added the idea that the surface of the bottom should be glossy white to minimize its mass within in the room and to be reflective of the light beaming down from above. The top, I figured, would probably look like an iPhone, so maybe it could be glossy black. A pair of metal-look supports would shore up the Starfleet bridge vibe, not to mention the LCARS graphic I personalized in Photoshop.
It was an ambitious plan to say the least. Possibly a recipe for a more-than-we-can-chew disaster.
Part 1: Building the Bottom
Like any build, we started at Home Depot. Correction, we actually started at Mark's parents house where we picked up his dad's table saw. For this, we needed our Honda Odyssey. We lowered the third row and pushed the second all the way forward to allow the saw to sit on its side. When we returned it, we actually placed it upright with the table portioned lowered in a Grand Caravan's third-row pit.
Now, onto Home Depot. First we built the basic frame (pictured with Mark above) from redwood 2x2s, which fit easily in Odyssey. The gigantic sheet of melamine particle board to cover the outside of the frame was a different story. The idea was that we would lacquer its white surface to create the reflective surface. Our original idea was to cover it in 3M's Scotchprint 1080 Gloss White vinyl wrap, but I deemed that a needless expense.
The bigger concern at the moment was Home Depot's table saw was broken, requiring us to fit the whole damn melamine sheet in the Odyssey. I'm not exagerating when I said it barely fit. It was poking at my shoulder in the driver seat (moved as forward as was possible for me to drive). It was at guillotine level at Mark's neck behind me. We had to remove the second row seat (surprisingly not a difficult procedure) and put it atop the third row.
After returning home with Mark's head still intact, we finished up construction of the bottom and used the Odyssey to transport it to my house from Mark's backyard. Thankfully it just barely fit upright.
I'll now keep this short: the lacquer idea was a dismal failure. Lots of money, effort, hazardous fumes, sanding, time and a whole crap-ton of annoyance led to the conclusion that you just can't lacquer something that big with cans of lacquer. We went back to Plan A, and I purchased a large sheet of the gloss white Scotchprint from AutoVinylSolutions.com. It was incredibly easy to apply and it looks absolutely incredible.
Part 2: Building the Top
We essentially were building a display case one might hang on the wall to show off a signed jersey. The Star Trek graphic would be printed using the same material as back-lit movie posters, then be placed in between a thick sheet of tempered glass and a thin sheet of very breakable picture frame glass. With the dimensions of that glass set, we built the display "box" out of a wood that shall remain unknown yet Mark was very impressed by its quality. To transport this wood along with the sheets of glass we used the Acura TSX, which Mark blogged about back in December.
With the top completed, Mark set about lacquering it black. This was done at the same time as my attempt on the bottom, but A) his greater skill and B) the top's much smaller size made lacquering the top a smashing success. The thing looks like a piano.
Part 3: Transporting the Top and Joining the Pieces
To transport the completed box top and glass, we called in our then-new Nissan Quest. Lowering the rear seat was tremendously easy, and the second row's fold-flat design made transporting the large box top much easier and safer than in a traditional minivan layout. Plus, the bins behind the folded third row meant we could secure a saw and Mark's tool kit. In this case, the Quest's cargo area seemed to actually be more useful than the larger one found in the Odyssey. It would've been useless had we had it for the melamine or transporting the completed bottom.
At my house, the two parts went together without a hitch, and we placed two strands of LED rope lights underneath the glass/graphic sandwich. We then added the metal supports. They are completely cosmetic, though, as they don't actually support anything. They also aren't metal at all. Mark cut two pieces of wood and we called in AutoVinylSolutions again, this time going with 3M's Scotchprint 1080 brushed titanium wrap. Not only does it look like metal, it feels like it too. There is an actual brushed metal feel to it, unlike just about every car with a similar look.
The Finished Product
So there you have it, my new Star Trek bar and man is it cool. Yes, it was more expensive than I had planned on (+/- $700), but we were ambitious and we definitely pulled it off. And by "we," I mean "entirely Mark with me helping out when I could, but mostly being a Gilligan-like figure of uselessness." Nevertheless, there is a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue in the bar with Mark's name on it. Plus I bought him a Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca.
In total, it took us several weekends from November through February to get it done. The long-term cars we used were ...
Acura TSX Wagon
Ford Mustang (multiple lacquer runs to OSH)
Mazda 3 (I don't actually remember, but we were definitely in it at some point)
Mini Cooper Countryman (a trip to Anawalt hardware, plus a taco run with Magrath)
Porsche 911 (Mark's default car, he used it multiple times for Anawalt runs)
James Riswick, Automotive Editor