Outdoor Kitchen Half Wall

Late last fall we started on our outdoor kitchen space in our back yard. I contracted out the concrete and structure work with the plan of building a half wall, island bar area, all the electrical and plumbing, a farm table, and any other building tasks my wife adds to the list. In this video and article, I’m going to check off one of the easiest tasks on the list; the half wall.

We decided that 42” was a good height for the wall for a couple of reasons. It’s short enough to obviously keep the natural breeze going through the structure but also high enough to block the cluttered look from the road. For the layout, I marked the height I wanted on the corner post and set up a laser level to transfer the height to all of the other posts.

To make the board placement foolproof I made a pair of these jigs to screw to the posts. The center shelf area locates the 2×4 and the top of the jig locates the horizontal 2×6 that will be used on top. The part of the jig that hooks onto the back of the post acts as a material rest so I can mark the length of the boards without using a tape measure.

I bought the treated lumber for this over a month ago and the boards all developed some kind of bow or twist in them. Some of them were pretty bad but I was able to use all of them as intended.

Here you can see how the jigs allow me to pace the material between the posts and mark it for length. The time it took to make these jigs is more than worth the convenience of not having to use a tape measure for layout or for determining where the top two boards go. It reduces the opportunity for human error, which is something I’ll always accept help with.

I made all of my cuts with a miter saw. Evolution sent it to me to use and I thought that because it can cut both wood and metal it would be handy for this build. They also sent a coupon code for all of you. Use the code JAYBATES to save 5% on all Evolution tools on their website. 

The top 2×4 board is test fit first followed by the horizontal 2×6 board on top of it. Some clamps are added to make sure it will all work and then some practice armrest and elbow leaning took place to make sure I didn’t want to adjust the height.

I didn’t want any screw holes on top so I decided to use pocket hole screws for all of the frame construction. The 2×6 board gets pocket holes just on their ends and the 2×4 board gets pocket holes on the ends as well as along its entire length to attach to the 2×6.

The first bit of assembly can begin by clamping the 2×6 in place and securing it with pocket hole screws. Then the 2×4 is secured the same way to the posts and then to the 2×6. Because I’m not sure how long it will be before I add some kind of decorative panel to the inside of the wall I put all of the pocket holes facing the outside of the structure.

With the first top rail done I removed the brackets and started on the next section. There’s a lot of repetition here so I set up a time-lapse and kept going.

Next up all the vertical frame pieces can be cut. These are all the same length and all get pocket holes on their ends. Two-thirds of them get pocket holes along their length as well.

I’m basically building a large face frame here. Starting at the sides, the vertical pieces are secured to both the 2×4 above and the post.

Then the center 2×4 is added.

Followed by the bottom 2×4. This is secured from above as well as to the posts.

Back to time-lapse mode to repeat everything else in the other three wall sections.

With the woodworking done the metalwork can begin and I was only able to make a dozen or so cuts on some J-trim before getting rained out. I think I got all of the vertical pieces cut before calling it quits due to the weather.

On the next good weather day, I started again by cutting more of the J-trim.

The metal installation is much quicker than the wood. First, the top J-trim piece is installed. I used a clamp to hold it in place while I punched holes for regular wood screws. I didn’t go crazy with screws here because the panel screws will also secure the trim later.

The vertical J-trim is added next, making sure to tuck it into the top piece.

And on the bottom, a piece of base trim is added. I didn’t secure this with screws. Instead, I just used clamps to hold it in place while the panels are added. The panel screws will secure it as well.

I’m prioritizing the view from the road, which is to my left, so the panels are installed right to left. That way the overlap is away from the main direction it will be seen from. Regarding the screw location, one method is to use a punch to mark all of the panels while they are still stacked but I opted to just mark and drive the screws in place. Just to prevent me from making any dumb mistakes marking the panels in the wrong spot.

I put a pair of marker lines on my awl. One at 2-1/2” for the top screws and one at 1” for the bottom screws.

One screw in each section into the top 2×4 and one screw in each section into the bottom 2×4.

When installing the bottom screws I made sure to pull up on the base trim with my boot. The metalwork definitely is faster than the wood framing part.

This wasn’t a situation where I could make the wall area a multiple of the panel length so some rip cuts were necessary. This first wall ended with a 2” wide piece measured from the center of the closest rib. I marked and cut the right side of the next panel with a cut-off wheel in an angle grinder. I’m sure there are better tools for the task but this is what I had and it worked well.

The small piece is tucked into place, secured with screws, and the first wall panel is complete.

I really like working with this metal panel system. The J-trim completes the top corner nicely and I’m glad I went with the base trim as it gives the bottom a more finished look rather than just letting the panel end.

And once again, time-lapse time. Each new section starts with the offcut from the last section so the only waste piece is what is left over after the last cut.

Finally, it was the time-lapse that my wife was really looking forward to; getting all of the tools and clutter out of the way and organizing the space. We still have a lot of work to do but getting this half wall up was a good start.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the inside of the walls but I definitely want to add some kind of decorative panel to make the inside look a little more finished and prevent anything from damaging the metal panels. We still have to knock out the list of stuff I mentioned earlier as well as some landscaping so there definitely will be more videos of this space as it evolves.

If you want to stay up to date with everything I publish go to jayscustomcreations.com/newsletter and sign up for my email newsletter so you don’t miss anything I publish. That’s it for this one. Have a great day, and I’ll talk to you in the next video/article.



  1. I made a half wall too. On the inside, consider adding a foot rail. It makes standing at the wall easier on the back. You could fashion same very fancy corbels to hold the foot rail.

  2. I think your daughter just invented a new position for football – receiver/punter LOL. She’s growing so fast just like our soon-to-be 5 year old granddaughter. The project is coming along nicely, by the way.

  3. First Jay the screws your using in the siding are made to drive through that siding. For everyone else the trim piece at the bottom is made to run the water away from the structure. No need to do anything to it at all. It takes care of it all on its own.

    • Of course, they are made to go through the siding. I wanted to punch a hole as it prevents the screw from walking when trying to drive it in a specific location.

  4. That looks really nice Jay. I built our chicken coop using pocket hole joinery and it went up in a day. And like you, I found it was easier for my inexperienced fingers to pre-punch the holes in the tin panels before driving the screws. Regarding the interior, t&g boards might look nice to protect the tin. And the foot rail mentioned by others is a good idea. I’m excited to see the rest of the build!

  5. Jay – no need for a center support to the ground given the length between the posts? Are you assuming the metal will be enough support over time so it wont sag in the middle and you won’t need one?

    • The metal, as well as the wood frame pieces, should be enough. Worst case scenario, I add a small block in the middle between the frame and the concrete.

  6. Jay, I have to wonder if the screws you used, both for the pocket holes and the metal siding, were ACQ treated lumber compatible?
    If not, all your hard, and very nice, work might all come apart in a few short years as the treated lumber corrodes the screws.
    I ask this because I have yet to see triple zinc coated pocket hole screws.

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