September 5, 2006

How to Build a Tiki Bar

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:32 pm
Build a Real Tiki Bar, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
Build a Real Tiki Bar, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar,
from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3

This comes from Atomic Magazine’s Fall 1999 issue — a very tongue-in-cheek set of instructions on how to build a tiki bar, designed to look like a family-friendly (until you read the finer print) construction kit from the 1950s. This was sent to me by Frank Dellario after meeting him at last spring’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Jose. Frank is the fellow pictured here with the pipe and glasses; he pulled together the bamboo information for the article. The other fellow pictured is Paul Jannicola, who is now part of Frank’s machinima team, ILL Clan. Michael Cogliantry photographed the spread, and Jeff Griffith did the layout and captions. This is from pretty early in the revival of interest in tiki (the Book of Tiki didn’t come out until the next year), and it’s neat to see some of the vanguards of modern-day tiki culture in action.

See step-by-step instructions after the jump…

How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 1, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 1, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 2, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 2, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 3, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 3, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 4, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 4, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 5, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 5, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 6, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 6, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 7, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 7, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 8, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 8, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 9, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
How to Build a Tiki Bar, Step 9, from Atomic Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3

Frank said that they really did build this tiki bar using nothing but bamboo, string, and a few bamboo skewers. I don’t know how well it held up, though… It’s held up well, see the update below!

Atomic Magazine stopped publishing in 2003, but back issues (including this one) are available from the Atomic Magazine website, and editor Leslie Rosenberg now runs RetroRadar.com.

UPDATE: Since this post has turned out to be incredibly popular, and so many people want to actually take a whack at making one of these suckers, here are scans of a couple of useful sidebars from the article. Also, here are instructions for tying a transom knot. I can’t personally vouch for the instructions here — I got my bar from Bamboo Ben.

Tiki bar materials list and tips
Tiki bar materials list and tips

UPDATE 2: Frank reports that the bar has held up just fine, the only adjustment he has made is to add an MDF top, mostly to add some Lose Weight Exercise to it (bamboo & twine is pretty darned lightweight). Here’s his bar today, eight years on it looks better than ever, a testament to the strength of bamboo:

Frank Dellario's tiki bar today
Frank Dellario’s tiki bar today

73 Responses to “How to Build a Tiki Bar”

  1. J Carlsson » How to Build a Tiki Bar Says:

    [...] ORGINAL published by Human Kon TiKi [...]

  2. Tiki Bar at Ochblog Says:

    [...] How to make it. Posted in Link Dump. [...]

  3. Geschmacksberater » Blog Archive » Alles für den Partykeller Says:

    [...] [«] Humu Kon Tiki How to Build a Tiki Bar Geschmacksberater ist nicht verantwortlich für die Inhalte externer Seiten. surfhawaiitikicocktailbarsaufen saufen saufenkein alkohol ist auch keine lösunghustle the sluffshuffle shuttleretrorockabilly [...]

  4. Humuhumu Says:

    Hmmm… looks like this one is a hit in Europe!

  5. MrBaliHai Says:

    “Human Kon Tiki”?

  6. Humuhumu Says:

    It could have been worse, I could have been turned into Hunan Kon Tiki… although that sounds tasty.

  7. MrBaliHai Says:

    …or Hummus Kon Tiki with Pita bread!

    And if you ever get a swelled head from all your fame and fortune…Hubris Kon Tiki…:-)

  8. meneame.net Says:

    HowTo crear un bar Hawaiano.

    En este tutorial (ingles) te explican como montar un bar con ambientación Hawaiana sin tener que contratar a un decorador y con tus propias manos. Como siempre en estos casos viendo las fotos parece muy facil. Habra que ver a la hora de la verdad como…

  9. Wahine Says:

    Um, sorry to nitpicks but that mat is not made of bamboo. That’s called a lauhala mat, made from the woven palm fronds of the lauhala tree.

  10. cath Says:

    I am making this for my next party! thanks! its just beautiful

  11. TechnoPrimitive » Blog Archive » Humu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » How to Build a Tiki Bar Says:

    [...] Humu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » How to Build a Tiki Bar [...]

  12. Damiens Journal » Blog Archive » Slacking Off… Says:

    [...] I would say thats it but I have a few links to share so lets quicklink as they say. Minature Earth is a fascinationing and interesting site featuring a informative flash animation check it out. Useful Tool for Resizing Pictures without software. The Best ELearning blogs out there!!!. I want to build a Tiki Bar…Space Allowing of Course!!!. Soapbox Derby MS Style. Virtual I-Pod plays MP3’s. [...]

  13. Justin Says:

    where are the actual step-by-step instructions… its awesome, and i want to know the dimensions, as well as materials list, and detailed cut lengths etc…

  14. Technorama » UN anti-podcasting treaty Says:

    [...] How to build a tiki bar via Reddit [...]

  15. juan Says:

    ¡vaya chorrada de bar! tiene toda la pinta de temblar como un flan, con una memez así seguro que no te comes una rosca!

  16. magnus Says:

    the last photo proves my theorem, that all real tiki devotees are also thrift-store junkies ;)

  17. rikomatic Says:

    Wow, thanks for the awesome scan. I loved that article. And my buddy Frankyboy never looked better!

  18. The Click Heard Round the World Says:

    How to build a tiki bar (1999 Atomic photo-essay)

    The killer tiki website Humu Kon Tiki has scanned and re-posted one of the most entertaining and informative articles in the retro-style magazine Atomic, edited by my old friend Leslie Rosenberg. Entitled Build a Real Tiki Bar the article ran

  19. Humuhumu Says:

    Justin (and anyone else who wants to try this as a project): I’ve added scans of a couple of useful sidebars to the end of the post, including a materials list. I also tracked down a site that shows how to make a transom knot. Have fun with the wife!

    Wahine: Yeah, I don’t know why they called it a bamboo mat (perhaps that’s what the store they bought it at was calling it?), but it doesn’t necessarily look like lauhala to me, it looks more like a grass mat. Any lightweight woven organic-materials mat should do the trick.

    Juan: I fear that Babelfish has failed me again. On the off chance that the translation I got was accurate: I think good care was taken to not eat any spirals, but I’d have to check with Frank to be sure. And you’re right, it looks like a dot-shaking good time.

    Rikomatic: That Frankyboy sure is a doll, ain’t he?

    Glad you’re all getting a kick out of it, and welcome to all the new Humu Kon Tiki readers!

  20. If you build it… « Xuliland Says:

    [...] The Humu Kon Tiki blog has instructions from a 1999 Atomic magazine article on  How to Build a Tiki Bar. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of me speeding to Home Despot to get power tools and lumber.  If only there were room for this in my one bedroom apartment… [...]

  21. Bear Says:

    Just one question…

    Why in hell would anyone WANT to build a tiki (or tacky) bar?

    Having lived through the era when such a thing was “in”, I just shudder.

  22. Malgwyn Says:

    Bamboo, alchohol, cigarettes, drunken retro-hussies? I’m sure it is wonderful, until your swank digs flame into non-existence.

    Cause of fire? Bad taste.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Build your own Tiki Bar

    Be like JohnnyJohnny, build a tiki bar.

  24. links for 2006-09-11 « mad dog in the fog Says:

    [...] How to Build a Tiki Bar Someday I will need to do this (tags: tiki howto) [...]

  25. How To: Build A Tiki Bar « Snag Daily Says:

    [...] [...]

  26. Rubbletub.com » Blog Archive » tiki bar Says:

    [...] http://blog.humuhumu.com/2006/09/05/how-to-build-a-tiki-bar [...]

  27. Mon 9/11 Bulletpoints at BFW Local 734 Says:

    [...] How to build a Tiki Bar. Another reason i need a bigger place. And a pipe. [...]

  28. Humu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » Critiki on Yahoo!’s The 9 Says:

    [...] It’s been an exciting few days for my websites… this weekend, the How to Build a Tiki Bar post here on Humu Kon Tiki got a mention on Boing Boing (which is always a nice thing), and this morning, I woke up to the news that my tiki bar website, Critiki, made Yahoo!’s The 9. I actually had never heard of The 9, it’s a daily list of 9 sites that Yahoo! thinks are worth a mention, and they do so in a format that looks not unlike the TV Guide Channel. They show Critiki’s Spinning Globe of Tiki Goodness in the video, which is very cool, but for some reason they show pictures that are from Humu Kon Tiki instead of some of the actual photos in Critiki, which are generally as good or better. Go figure. They also didn’t spend enough time at either of those sites to actually get the tiki thing — they intro into the next site’s profile by saying something about watching sports at tiki bars (???). But I really shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, it’s a wonderful thing for Critiki to be introduced to a new audience. Of all my sites, it’s the one that’s closest to my heart. [...]

  29. Humuhumu Says:

    In answer to why someone would want one of these things… it’s true, it’s not for everyone. If you truly ask out of curiosity, this article, from American Heritage Magazine, may shed some light on why some people cherish this period in American history:

    Tiki, from American Heritage Magazine, Vol. 57, Issue 4 (Aug/Sep 2006)

    Re: fire hazard, today there are excellent fireproofing methods available, which should be used with any use of thatch or bamboo in decorating. Personally, I don’t use fire in my home tiki bar, but many folks do, and use the appropriate care. I have yet to see or hear of anyone having a fire in their home tiki bar (one friend had a fire in their home, and their home bar was smoke-damaged, but did not burn), with or without the presence of any pesky “retro-hussies.”

    Just got an update from Frank, and there’s now a picture at the end of his post of how the bar is looking today — it’s held up great!

  30. TechnoPrimitive » Blog Archive » Roper’s Knot Pages - Hitches - Constrictor knot Says:

    [...] Lots o’ Knots!  This link was found at Humu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » How to Build a Tiki Bar . Lots of closeups of knot illustrations. Good stuff! [...]

  31. frankyboy Says:

    Frank here. Glad to hear everyone liked the article, must tip hat to Jeff Griffith who was the art director on the mag and worked on that text with me as well. And thanks to the ever gorgeous humu humu for posting it.

    That transom knot is correct, but I also used what’s called a transom lashing, can’t find an image online but here’s a link to one I scanned from The Ashely Book of Knots, http://www.yehoodi.com/images/news_photos/1467.jpg.

    You basically just keep looping the line up over under, up over under, so it’s one big ring of line that happens to have two bamboo poles through it, one on top of the other, then you lash it tight by looping the line around the middle line in a circle, cinchs it tight that way. If you looked at it from the side, it would look like a U shape of line, with a horizontal circle of line (the cinching part). Hard to discribe so hope that helps.

  32. newsBreaks.net » HOWTO Build a tiki bar Says:

    [...] Link [...]

  33. Celene Designs Fun-Sexy Blog » Build your own Tiki bar Says:

    [...] You would be the envy of your friends and it would make for many a Fun-Sexy evening. Mmmmm. Here’s a website brought to you by the venerable “Humuhumu”, goddess of all things Tiki, that explains how to do just that: [How to Build a Tiki Bar] [...]

  34. Naik’s News » Web zen: tiki zen Says:

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  35. newsBreaks.net » Web zen: tiki zen Says:

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  36. premeditated.org » Blog Archive » From Tiki to Terror Says:

    [...] When you’ve had enough of the lying, death, and destruction, maybe it’s time to just relax, build a tiki bar, and set your iTunes to random. Hold off on that installation of iTunes 7, though. As usual, just like the last major upgrade, there are still some kinks to work out. [...]

  37. how to build a tiki bar « raincoaster Says:

    [...] At last, something useful from Web Zen on BoingBoing, usually the home of a big “What? Whatever,” any time I check it out. But this makes up for many, many vintage Japanese vending machine item posts. [...]

  38. Gary Cooper Says:

    Hey Gang,
    The famous Michael Cogliantry (who took these hysterical pics) just forwarded me this blog. HOW COOL that the story not only lives on years after we created this piece in ATOMIC, but that it’s still giving helpful tips in 2006. Was one of my favorite pieces from the mag. We actually received letters from our fighting men overseas who used the instructions to build their own on bases in the Middle East. Big thanks Franky Boy for the shoutout. Much appreciated -Jeff Griffith

  39. Emily Says:

    Wow, that bar brings back good memories! (Hi Jeff!) Thanks to the awesome Yehoodi talk show for the link tip, too.

  40. iDiy.mobi » Humu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » How to Build a Tiki Bar Says:

    [...] Originally Syndicated via RSS from del.icio.us/tag/diy Click to read top NEWS stories [...]

  41. lowest.common.denominator » Blog Archive » How to Build a Tiki Bar Says:

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  42. TikiWiki Says:

    Great Stuff!

  43. marius dot org » Blog Archive » Tiki Reminders Says:

    [...] HOWTO: Build a Tiki Bar Tiki mug collections [...]

  44. DIY:happy » Bamboo Tiki Bar Says:

    [...] trend last season), just ask the bamboo bike with the bamboo-appreciative links! Besides RULING, this tiki bar apparently holds up rather well, as bamboo can be used in lieu of half a diameter [...]

  45. iDiy.mobi » Bamboo Tiki Bar Says:

    [...] trend last season), just ask the bamboo bike with the bamboo-appreciative links! Besides RULING, this tiki bar apparently holds up rather well, as bamboo can be used in lieu of half a diameter [...]

  46. the new shelton wet/dry Says:

    [...] Build a Tiki bar. [...]

  47. rita Says:

    I am building a tiki bar. My bambo is spliting and I need to know what to do. Should i treat it with somthing ? I have 2 – 10 foot poles, 5in. diam. Please hurry with reply. I don’t want 10 foot toothpicks.

  48. Humuhumu Says:

    Rita, here’s a discussion on Tiki Central with some pointers on minimizing splintering of your bamboo. Here’s another thread on TC that gives the tip of taping the bamboo before cutting.

    Hope that helps!

  49. DogSolitude » Bamboo Tiki Bar Says:

    [...] Keeping with the theme, get some instructions on how to build your own Tiki Bar [...]

  50. Eric S Says:

    I’ve actually been trying to think of a project to use up some spare bamboo I came across recently. How on Earth could I not have thought of this?

    After I crank one of these out, I’d really like to hand-carve my own tiki totem from a length of palm tree. Cheers, friends. Pictures to follow when all is done…

  51. BuilderBlog » Blog Archive » Why does it take so long… Says:

    [...] other DIY bars out there I found this on “boing boing” quick n’ dirty bar, the tiki bar. Ok, so It’s not really dirty but it sure would be a fast way to get a bar togheter. No three [...]

  52. cphil1205 Says:

    OMG! I TOTALLY made out with that guy Paul in a bar in Queens in the early 90′s!

  53. Long Beach Lawyer Says:

    I must say, I am impressed with the range of ideas regarding the tiki bar. I have wanted one for years. The information provided is very useful.

  54. Burbank Lawyer Says:

    I agree with you Long Beach, when I was in College my friends and I built a Tiki Bar in our fraternity house. This article brings back many fond memories.

  55. Jack Jilkins Says:

    Guys, great guide here. I love the step by step detailed information, theres also a nice guide at:

    http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Build-A-Tiki-Bar-In-24-Hours&id=752731

    but I think your guide is better, nice job!

  56. How to Build a Tiki-Bar Says:

    [...] Kon Tiki hat nen’ alten Atomic-Magazin Artikel aus dem Jahr 1999 “How to build a Tiki-Bar” eingescannt und demonstriert, reichlich bebildert, wie du dir deine eigene kleine Tiki-Bar [...]

  57. The Tiki Bar Shop » Blog Archive » Build a Bamboo Tiki Bar Says:

    [...] step-by-step guide is entertaining and quite easy to follow.  If you can get your hands on the various sizes of [...]

  58. How to Build a Tiki Bar » Blog Archive » From Humu Kon Tiki « Happy Michael’s Blog Says:

    [...] Here is a repost from Humuhumu. She is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Her other, non-tiki blog is at Junkyard Clubhouse. This Post is from September 5, 2006 via blog.humuhumu.com [...]

  59. Hat Making Diy And How-to. | 7Wins.eu Says:

    [...] How to Make a Spring Easter Bonnet, Hat, or Flower Crown with Your Kids « Costumes &Amp; Dressing Up Crafts « Kids Crafts & ActivitiesHumu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » How to Build a Tiki Bar [...]

  60. wir bauen eine tiki-bar « Das Leben ist ein Märchen Says:

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  61. Tiki Bar Design. « Mass Panic: The World of Atom Punk Says:

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  62. Tiki | Trends Pics Says:

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  63. Materials List | AllGraphicsOnline.com Says:

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  65. Tiki Bar in My Living Room | wikitikibar.com Says:

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  67. Basement Bar Design #9: Tiki Bars | The Pegu Blog Says:

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  73. Smithb152 Says:

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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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