Functional and decorative, this DIY bar cart is the little "something" that's been missing from your home. —INGRAIN, Winter 2018
STORY / Jen Ohrn Wroblewski
A family barn gets a second life as a reclaimed wood car cart to be passed down to future generations.
Around five years ago, my husband and I were able to salvage a few pieces of wood from his grandparents’ barn that was destined for demolition (it was deemed unsafe). The barn, built in the 1890s, was the last of three that once stood proudly on their property in Saunemin, a small farming community in North Central Illinois. We piled up the salvaged wood in our garage, where it sat waiting for its next life.
As Goose Island’s Brewery Experience Manager, I spend a lot of time at each of our properties and work closely on the design elements: the Fulton Street Taproom & Brewery, our expanded barrel-aging warehouse and Barrel House Event Space on Chicago’s West Side, and our recently renovated original Clybourn location in Lincoln Park. Those treks are a daily visual reminder of the reclaimed, recycled, and sustainable materials (including reclaimed wood) that are incorporated into each space in a variety of ways through signage, tables and bar tops, and barrel stave walls, to name a few. The designs from local companies Icon Modern and Chris Knight Creations, in particular, inspired me to finally make something from that treasured family barn wood.
My husband’s only request was that the furniture be something useful. What about a BAR CART?!
What started with a few “found wood” tables made of lumber from felled Chicago-area trees (salvaged from city parks) has turned into a booming local business. Today, Icon Modern’s reclaimed wood is sourced from a broader geographic area, and the design team creates custom furniture and architectural pieces (like those barrel stave walls) from inside a 20,000 square-foot office space. But the artistic vision remains the same: Let that (wise old) wood do the talking.
Barn wood, pallets, old metal carts: Where others see junk, Chris Knight sees potential. What started in the backyard of his apartment with a couple of saws and very little woodworking or metalwork knowledge has become a full-fledged business (thanks in part to Etsy) with several employees in a spacious loft, not far from the Goose barrel-aging warehouse. Knight’s eye for photography (his first career) is apparent in his artistry. He has a knack for seeing abandoned structures in a fresh, new way, taking those moments of yesteryear and reimagining what they could be: tables, bars, wall coverings, logo signs, and more.
With The Help Of Our Friend Chris Knight, Let's Make That Bar Cart
3 Barn wood pieces (36′′ L x 12′′ W each)
12 Plumbing pipes (¾′′ diameter; 4 at 12′′ L for middle shelf, 4 at 14′′ L for bottom shelf, 4 at 3′′ L for handles)
20 Plumbing pipe flanges (fit for ¾′′ pipes)
2 Corner connectors (45 degrees)
4 Wheels (2.5′′ diameter; 2 with locks)
Screws (for flanges and wheels)
Natural wood stain
Polyurethane top coat (water based)
Rare earth magnet
Hand saw, table saw, and/or miter saw
Planer, sandpaper, and/or belt sander
Cloth (for staining)
If you don’t have wood from Grandpa’s barn, keep your eyes peeled for items left in alleys, like wood pallets or old doors. Option #2: Visit a farm or wood-centric business and ask for discarded wood.