DIY woodworking projects for every budget and skill level

Speakeasy Bar Arcade

Welcome to BarKode.

The Speakeasy Bar Arcade

Hidden Behind a Bookcase Door

If you followed that sentence, you can follow my DIY projects


Yep, speakeasy bar arcade is a mouthful. When my wife and I bought our home I agreed to give up the office in exchange for the freedom to do whatever I wanted with the unfinished storage room in the basement. The issue? A contractor quoted me $2,800 just to put up the studs. In addition, I really wanted a murphy door (hidden bookcase door) but that would have added another $1,000 or more.  

Measuring approximately 12’x18′ with exposed floor joists, bare concrete floor and white insulation that can best be described as insane asylum décor. 

I decided to take the project on myself. Instead of studs and drywall, I found other ways to make the room suit my taste.

I was able to build the entire core of the speakeasy for less than the original $2,800 quote for studs. This includes, the Hidden Bookcase Door, DIY Spalted Maple Bar, Barn Beam Light, Reclaimed Wood Wall, AC Duct weathered wood cover, Burlap and Faux brick wall covers and concrete paint.

This became a never ending hobby and I have added things that I will also include in this article.

Use this landing page as a navigation point for all things speakeasy, arcade and bar. All projects can also be found on the navigation bar above.

We want to see your space, even if it is a work in progress. Jump over to our Facebook group and share your story, or join and just get inspired by others: Join here




DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

Table of Contents

We started with a hidden bookcase door but your journey may start with one of our other projects. Flip through the slides below to get started.

Table of Contents
TheCraftyCatsman Hidden Bookcase Door scaled

Hidden Bookcase Door

This was the project that started it all. One of the most popular projects on our site. The Hidden bookcase door is a budget friendly alternative to a Murphy Door. Click below for full free, detailed instructions.

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Spalted Maple Bar

Let’s learn how to build a simple frame then finish some beautiful slab wood for a top that pops

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Barn Beam Light

Rustic with a purpose. This barn beam light was built with scrap leftovers from a barn beam mantel.

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Painting Bare Unfinished Concrete Basement Floor

The laziest project in the bunch, but it made a huge impact

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AC Duct - Weathered wood conversion

Had a ton of fun painting scrap pieces of wood with the kids. Combining different colors really makes the design pop.

TheCraftyCatsman%20 %20Bookcase%20Door%20back

Rustic Wall

The Vibe of this speakeasy is clearly taking shape. I could not believe my luck when I found a stock pile of beautiful wood for $20. This was the easiest conversion in the arcade, just some nails, a hammer and an hour of time.

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Corrugated Metal Ceiling

The second easiest conversion in the speakeasy. The rusted patina of used corrugated metal added a ton of character to the room. Thin metal sheets help maximize headspace.

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Virtual Pinball Machine

My biggest challenge to date.

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

Hidden Bookcase Door

The First of Many Decisions. To Buy or Build a Secret Door

I obsessively researched hidden bookcase doors. Unfortunately, the resources that I found were either incomplete or for smaller applications (like attic doors). I was committed to having the bar arcade hidden behind a bookcase door. Besides satisfying my wildest nerdy dreams, I felt that a bookcase makes the main basement area look complete. A regular door does the job, but a bookcase door completely divides the two spaces.

This was a major financial decision. A Murphy door is a solid, complete answer for my need – however, it would have cost close to $1,300 to get the door in the form that I wanted. Looking at the cost of materials, I felt I could build the door for $300. After adding the Murphy door to my cart a dozen times I finally decided to make the door myself.

 I am extremely happy with my decision. The bookcase door came out better than I had hoped for and well within budget. Further, it gave me an opportunity to spend time with my daughter on a fun project. Even at three years old, she was able to see and appreciate the transition from a traditional door to a secret bookcase door. She loved helping build and decorate the shelves. Mr. Moonman being one of her favorites.

Click below for free step by step instructions on how to build your own bookcase door!

TheCraftyCatsman- Hidden Bookcase Door right hand outswing

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

Spalted Maple Bar

The bookcase door is complete, now we need a good reason to hide behind it. Fun fact “Spalted” is any kind of wood coloration that is caused by fungi’s extraction of nutrients from the wood. Spalting is a delicate balance between beauty and function. You want just enough to look good but not enough where the decay causes structural concerns.


Building a bar, a

libationerating, erm liberating


Every good (adult) hideout should include some form of bar, at least in my humble opinion. The bar will serve as a focal point and may be the first indication of the vibe of the room. For example, my initial plans called for a sleek polished walnut bar top. 

 When I arrived at my local miller I fell in love with a spalted piece of maple. That decision set the tone for the rest of the design. 

Building a bar takes work but it is much simpler in design then a bookcase door. You will want to measure your space and build a stable frame to support your bar top.

Here we can hone in on our sanding and polyurethane techniques. Bring your belt and/or orbital sander, this one will get dusty.

 Click below for detailed instructions on how I built my bar.


DIY Bar, speakeasy, spalted maple with a brick background and hanging barn beam light fixture

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

Hand Hewn Barn Beam Light

With so many similar sounding words above, if you got dizzy I don’t blame you.


Barn Beam Light Fixture, let’s light up this Bar.

This hand hewn barn beam light fixture was destined to happen. We built a barn beam mantle in our first home and this was the scrap that was left over. I loved the look of the beam offcut but couldn’t decide on what to use it for. Once the bar was built it immediately became apparent that this little hunk of hand axed wood was destined to illuminate newly polished bar top. 

Full Free instructions, click below.


Rustic barn beam light, corrugated metal in the background,

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

How to Paint a concrete Basement Floor

Every Time I cleaned the paint brush, it looked like I had just murdered somebody, somebody who hates cats.


How to Paint basement

concrete, the lazy way.

There are projects that I obsess over, painstakingly mapping out each step and replaying them in my head like sugarplums in that classic Christmas Story. This my kool kitten crew (you’ll realize why we stopped the K’s eventually) was not one of those projects. In fact, I planned next to nothing and resolved myself to dealing with the repercussions. Thus far, those repercussions have yet to surface.  

Click below to see my haphazard approach to painting the arcade floor. Warning, there may be better ways to do this – but I can assure you, they will take longer.

Sidenote of encouragement: I love the way the project turned out


used paint can, red with a red floor

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

Wood Weathering Technique

Learn how to give wood a worn look. I used this technique to create a box around the unsightly metal ductwork.


Cover AC Duct with Scrap pine.

This can be a fun project with the kids. Don’t have a kid? That’s fine too, I did most of the painting after their 5 minute attention spans ran their course. Using extremely cheap (often free) wood from Home Depots scrap pile, I was able to cut down and “weather” some thin pine boards.


The light weight nature of the boards allowed me to easily nail them up to some support beams. This added some pops of color and most importantly hid an unsightly metal duct.

Yeah keen eyed cats, the bottom is still not finished. It’s a hobby, not a profession. I’ll get to it one day…what are you, my wife?


Rustic decor, corrugated metal with lights

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

Rustic Wall and Hidden Bookcase Door Back

This $20 Facebook Marketplace find was one of my favorites – it completely transformed the Arcade.


We are going Full Rustic.

The Speakeasy Bar Arcade officially took shape during this step. The aged textures of 100+ year old wood, mixed with some newer distressed boards created a wall that handled the only studded wall in the speakeasy. Better yet, it was cheap and quick to install.


Click below for full instructions. 

DIY Hidden Doorway Bookcase - back of the bookcase door. Hidden Door ideas. Rustic barn secret door

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

Corrugated Metal Ceiling

This idea solved so many of our problems. Like, how do we cover up floor joists? What do we do about sporadic basement lighting?


We put the Bar in Barn.

I love a good patina. The thought of hanging corrugated metal panels appealed to me for a multitude of reasons. It was a perfect match for the theme of the speakeasy but it was also functional – providing a thin cover for the ceiling, maximizing head space while also subtly completing the rustic look. Hanging some controllable LED patio lights allowed for even and unique lighting throughout.  

Rustic decor, corrugated metal with lights

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.

Building a Virtual Pinball Machine

Holy Father of Friskies, this actually happened. This project is not part of the budget and only became a reality because of an amazing community of people.


How to build a Virtual Pinball

Machine, and still keep your wife.

I may have narrowed my target audience here a bit. If you aren’t married then you could assume that the above means that virtual pinball machines can be expensive. The virtual pinball machine is the only thing in the arcade that I researched more than the Secret bookcase door (It’s technically a secret doorway bookcase but I really think that sounds dumb, roll with me on it). 


In reality, virtual pinball machines range from $700 to over $10,000. Even do it yourself builds can cost upwards of $5,000. NOT TODAY folks. While I will leave the full DIY build instructions to extremely capable people like Michael J Roberts and TheWayOfTheWrench, I am going to share my process and how I was able to build a fully capable, 4k 120hz blazing fast Virtual pinball machine with real pinball parts and Surround Sound feedback (don’t worry these terms will quickly become staples in your brain).


Click below for my guide on how to build a capable virtual pinball machine on a budget.

Virtual Pinball - Indiana Jones

DIY Basement Speakeasy Arcade Bar.


These small details made a big impact, they may get their own page one day. 


Honorable Mentions

1. Burlap Walls: A few hours and those white padded walls were gone! I purchased a 96×50 yard roll of burlap from Uline, met a commercial trucker at a gas station to get it.

I was able to cut and tuck the burlap around the white insulation. Every so often I hammered a nail through the burlap into a stud. It has held up well but be warned, burlap is extremely flammable. DO NOT install burlap if you ever intend to have open flames in the space. Bonus, you will likely have yards left over to use for other projects.    


2. Faux Brick: Another upgrade that took minutes and was super cheap. Yeah, it’s fake but it adds a bit of character to the arcade and really breaks up the space.



Hanging barn beam fixture, spalted maple bar, corrugated metal roofing, hanging lights

Do you need to brush up on some of the fundamentals?


We have a series of pages dedicated to the “basics” of woodworking, click below to learn more

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DALL·E 2022-08-17 13.49.46 - _scrappy bro cat with hat and headphones and Dewalt safety glasses_, _sitting at a workbench with a clipboard_, _scrappy bro cat checking red boxes on
cropped TheCraftyCatsman 1


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