DIY Arm Rails for a Bar

An arm rail on a bar is a classic look that also has an important function.

DIY Arm Rails for a BarDIY Arm Rails for a Bar
Installing your own arm rails can save you the cost of hiring a professional. Oak is a good choice the rails because it is a durable hardwood that should stand the test of time. Break up the look of the arm rail with short lengths on the front of the bar with lots of shiny metal brackets, or make one continuous arm rail.

Measure the distance from one end of the bar to the desired end of the arm rail. Saw the 2-inch rod to the desired length with a miter saw. Sand the rod smooth with 100-grit sandpaper and apply stain or clear coat to your liking.

Measure down from the top of the bar and make a mark representing the top of the arm-rail bracket. Do the same at the other end of the bar. Ask a helper to hold the end of the chalk-box string on the first mark while you stretch the string over to the second mark. Pull the string tight and pop a chalk line on the front of the bar.

Make a mark on the line representing the center of a bracket-mounting plate while holding an end-cap bracket on the chalk line. Measure down the line and make marks every 4 feet. This indicates the centers of the mounting plates at all points between the end-cap brackets.

Hold the top of the brackets against the chalk line and center a mounting plate with the marks on the chalk line that indicate where the center of the plate should be. Mark the screw holes onto the bar. Drill 1/16-inch pilot holes in the circles representing the screw holes.

Align the screw holes in the brackets with the pilot holes in the bar while you hold a bracket against the front of the bar. Secure the brackets to the bar with the supplied screws. Repeat this for the rest of the brackets except one end-cap bracket.

Slip the arm rod through the brackets, starting at the end of the bar that doesn't yet have an end cap. Feed the rod through each of the brackets until it reaches the installed end cap bracket. Slip the remaining end cap bracket over the end of the rod and secure it to the bar with the screws provided.

Things You Will Need

  • 2-inch oak rod
  • Miter saw
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Clear coat
  • Chalk box
  • 2-inch end cap brackets with screws
  • 2-inch arm rail brackets with screws
  • Variable speed drill
  • 1/16-inch drill bit
  • Philips screw tip


  • Install an elbow fitting on the rods if the arm rail turns a corner.


  • Use proper ventilation when applying a finish to wood.

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.