15 man cave DIY ideas on a budget
So you’ve built your man cave – Now what?
There’s nothing quite like picking up your tools and making things. The sense of satisfaction is so much more than just going out and buying something, you end up looking at a creation that wouldn’t exist without your design, without the capability of your hands wielding a hammer and saw.
Of course, not everything is suited to the DIY attitude – I’ll gladly leave Apple to make my computers and phones – but you can make a surprising amount of stuff yourself, and the man cave is a perfect place to hone those skills.
An important thing to have in mind before any DIY project is expectations. Unless you’re a skilled carpenter, you shouldn’t expect a polished result that comes out of a John Lewis catalogue – that’s not really the point, and not why we do DIY..
The results will often be a little rough and ready, but they’ll be personal, and beautiful in their individuality. They tell a story, and will hold memories in a way that nothing which is simply bought in a shop can hold them. They also save you money! You can make heaps of cool things on a tiny budget, or even for free with reclaimed timber and other materials.
Having made at least part of your man cave will change the way you relate to it. It won’t just be a room full of cool things you’ve bought, but will be a part of you, a collection of your creations and best efforts. DIY facilitates true personalisation, and is fun as well, despite the unavoidable moments of frustration, or perhaps because of them. It’s because of the frustration and the overcoming of all the issues which arise in the process that each thing you make means something – if it was all easy, dare I say the result wouldn’t be as satisfying!
There are some basic tools that you’ll need to get started on any DIY project. The three absolute necessities to have are a good hand saw, tape measure, and combi drill. With these three tools, you can make pretty much any wooden structure, by cutting pieces of wood with the saw (obviously) and fastening them with the combi drill.
If you want these tools to last, you don’t want to cheap out – it won’t save you money, as cheap combi drills in my experience tend to break almost the first time you use them. For around £100, you can get a combi drill from DeWalt, Makita, or any of the other big tool manufacturers, that’ll last you a lifetime. Saws are thankfully far cheaper, but do need replacing! You can pick up an adequate wood saw in most hardware stores for around £5, which should last you a fair while.
Apart from these tools, everything else just makes the process easier and allows more precise working. A good set of chisels will allow better joint making and wood engraving, while sandpaper and some nice files will help make everything neat and clean. A nice toolbox to keep everything in one place is also a great idea, or things will get lost surprisingly fast.
15 awesome DIY projects for the perfect man cave
1. Dart Board
A fun and relatively easy thing to make for your man cave is a dart board! There are various ways to make one, but one of the simplest is with cork and matchsticks. Get a cork board and cut out your desired shape. Once you have the shape, you can draw or paint on the correct colours and numbers, using a compass and ruler.
The darts you can make by taking four matches, binding them together, with a needle or pin fixed at one end, and slotting a square of paper in the other. The end result is satisfying and surprisingly fun to muck about with!
2. Custom Signage
A great way to personalise your man cave is by making some pieces of custom signage. A really creative way to do this which will test and help hone your wood carving skills is to try using chisels on a big piece of wood to carve out letters.
The easiest (but by no means easy) way is to draw the letters first, and then cut them out. A harder way which you can experiment with is cutting around the drawn letters, leaving them prominent! Once you’ve carved, you can paint the letters in whatever colour you like, or oil and enjoy the beautiful wood finish.
3. Beer Glass Collection (and case to show them off)
A simple and fun way to personalise your man cave is by building and showing off a beer glass collection. This one obviously isn’t something that happens overnight, although you can boost your collection by buying a set so you’ve got something nice to build on.
These glasses can each tell a story – buy one whenever you go somewhere special, and once your mates know you’re starting a collection, they’re sure to get you some as well. To show them off, you can build a nice case – from a nice wood, perhaps oiled oak!
4. Custom Wall Art
If you already consider yourself an artist, this one might be obvious, but even if you don’t you should certainly consider adding some custom wall art to your man cave!
Get some markers out and draw a scene that makes you feel calm, like a river from your favourite fishing trip, or go abstract and make something Kandinsky would be proud of.
If you don’t feel as comfortable drawing, you can always write out a favourite motto or poem – it’s your space, you can do literally whatever you want with it!
5. Pallet Bar Counter
A really great way to build things on a budget is by using pallets. The wood is normally decent enough (although beware of splinters) and you should be able to find enough for most projects for free, or at least very very cheap!
Using pallets and a few pieces of 2×4 timber, with your saw and combi drill you’ll be able to knock up a nice little custom pallet bar to fit whatever space you have just perfectly, then just get a sheet of plywood to make the top, or whatever other wood catches your eye!
6. Beer bottle cap countertop
An amazing way to make the countertop of your pallet bar is to customise it using old beer bottle caps. Even if you drink a fair bit, it could take a while to get enough beer caps to cover a whole counter – you can ask friends to donate theirs, but the quickest way is to ask a bar or pub to give you some of theirs. They throw them out at the end of each night, and if you ask them to save you a few evenings worth, you’ll have more than enough.
Once you’ve laid them out on the base, which can be some sort of plywood, you can either lay a perspex sheet over the top, or coat them in a resin. The latter method is a bit more tricky and can get quite messy, but gives a nicer result when done well!
7. Bottle opener with cap collector
A good way to keep your man cave neat and tidy, while collecting bottle caps for your countertop, is by making a bottle cap opener with a cap collector.
You don’t have to make the opener yourself as well, unless you fancy the challenge, instead you can buy one with mountable screw holes, then build a suitable box structure with a hole placed just below the opener, for the caps to fall into. With a bit of sanding and a lick of paint, you’ll have a wonderful creation, and no more caps all over the floor!
8. Wall mounted shelf / glass holder
An incredible addition to your bar which will ease the cocktail making to no end, will be a DIY wall mounted shelf. Cut a nice wooden base, deep enough to accommodate the biggest bottle you’ll be placing on it (probably a nice, squat whisky bottle) then add a simple back, with hooks to attach to the wall, two sides, and a front.
The front piece is where you can get creative – either carve out a nice pattern in a piece of wood, or you can even add in some nice metal bars (copper works a treat) to enhance the aesthetic.
9. Cable reel table
An amazingly simple way to make a solid, round table is by using an old cable reel. You might have to search a bit, but once you’ve found one, you really don’t have to change much to make it a suitable table!
Have a look on Gumtree and Ebay, or any junk yards – they might even pay you to take them off their hands. Again, you’ll want to be careful of splinters – if you’re going to use it as it is, be sure to sand down the top thoroughly, and then maybe add a coat of oil to help it age well and protect against spilt drinks. The perfect poker table!
10. LED Strip lighting ideas
An incredibly easy way of getting beautiful, customised lighting which doesn’t require hacking off plasterboard is by using LED strips. You can get numerous different styles, brightnesses, and lengths, for next to nothing, on Amazon and Ebay, and then you can simply stick them where you want. No electricians required, and easy as pie to rearrange should you grow tired of the lighting!
11. Wall Wifi password board
With a lot of guests, the first question asked on entering your home is pretty much always “I don’t suppose I could have the wifi password?”. While there’s nothing wrong with this at all, it can get a little tedious bringing out the little code from the router each time.
By using a wall mounted password holder, you eliminate this issue! You can easily chisel out the letters on a nice piece of wood, and then draw the password in clear writing below. Now, when asked, you can simply point – no response or accidentally unplugging the router necessary!
12. DIY bar stools
A slightly more advanced project, with a really rewarding end result, is making a DIY bar stool. The cutting of the lengths of wood is really the easy part – where you can make the project far more complex and challenging is in the type of joint you use.
Some joints require routers to cut out, which are reasonably specialised tools that not everyone owns, but you can give it a go with a chisel and a drill. Have a play around, and once you’ve found a joint you can replicate each time with reasonable precision, you’re ready to make the bar stool!
13. Sport shirt cushions
This list has had a lot of examples of woodwork so far, which is great, but wood isn’t always the most comfortable to sit on.
You can make your man cave a far more back-friendly place to sit and relax by adding some cushions, so why not personalise them! An easy and smart way to do this, no matter your sewing capabilities, is to use sports shirts as covers.
You can use a plain but comfortable cushion, and simply hand sew the shirt around so it’s neat and tight. If you’re new to sewing, practice on a piece of fabric first, and use a thimble if you don’t want to hurt your thumb.
14. Custom basketball hoop & pallet backboard
Another fun game you can play in your man cave, as well as darts, is basketball. Probably not full size, unless you have heaps of space and don’t mind smashing things. Get a miniature ball, and make the hoop and backboard yourself.
Once again, you can use your trusty friend – the pallet – as a backboard, and for the hoop, a simple and easy option is to bend a clothes hanger. Another cool thing you can do is attach a rubbish bag below, and use it as a bin – be warned though, with each beer, your aim might just get a little worse.
15. Beer can candle
Last but not least, let there be light! Candles can make any space feel so much more special, but why not make your own?
Take your favourite beer can or glass out of your mini fridge, place a wick in the middle, and melt wax into the cavity, being sure to keep the wick centred. You can buy beeswax pellets for not so much, which give a wonderful smell, but be careful when you melt the wax!
When it gets too hot, the fumes can ignite, causing serious oil fires. Pour the molten wax outside, as getting wax out of clothes or carpets is nothing short of nightmare material!
Should I make everything in this list myself?
Many man cave owners choose to take the entire process on as a DIY project, whereas others may opt for purchasing and building what they find the most fun along the way. There's really no set rules here... Your cave, you decide!
Is filling my man cave with things going to be expensive?
As this is a DIY list we've given hints and tips on where you can find a lot of these items for cheap, and then sort the building out yourself should you wish. Naturally, if you opt for private stores or sellers, it's going to be costly for some of the larger items in particular like stools and tables (although it's a good way to know you're getting a premium product).
As you can see, when it comes to DIY projects in your man cave, there’s no shortage of things to do! We’ve also made sure to link our top 15 selections to sellers on Etsy just incase you want to skip any parts and buy the ideas in our guide directly.
Whether you choose to make them yourself or not, there’s one thing for sure… you can’t beat a new man cave addition!