May 24, 2013

How to make a rustic cedar ice chest/cooler box!

My wife found a picture of a wood ice chest box on Facebook and once she showed it to me I knew that I had to make one.  I wanted to make something that would be easy, relatively cheap and very rustic so I went with cedar fence pickets.  They are 5/8" thick by 5 1/2" wide by 6 feet long.  I was able to make this entire project out of 7 pickets.  The pickets were $2.05 each, the hinges were $2.17 each, the handle for the front was $2.97, and the Styrofoam ice chest was $2.99.  Those materials came out to $24.65 not including tax.  I also used 56 one inch screws, a bunch of 1 1/2" brads in my nail gun and some Titebond glue so I would estimate the cost of this project to be right around $30.00.  It might be a little bit more if I decide to put a coat of finish on it.  I am very happy with the outcome and plan on making more.


I started by cutting the legs to 31 inches making sure to keep the angled parts for the feet.

I then set my tablesaw to 3" to cut the leg pieces.


This is what the legs are going to look like. 1 board is 3" and the other  is 2 1/2" roughly. 

I glued and nailed all the leg pieces together and then clamped them just to play it safe.  Pay attention when you glue them so that you have 2 left legs and 2 right legs.  I assembled mine so that the 3" pieces were facing forward on the front.


I took the rest of the 4 leg pickets and cu them down to 20" for the front, back, and bottom of the box.

I got 8 pieces out of the 4 boards.

I cut a fresh picket into 5 - 13" boards for the sides. 

I cut one of the 13" board in to two 2 1/2" strips and one 20" board into two 2 1/2" strips.

Here are all the pieces cut for the front, back, and sides. 

I put a slight chamfer on all the pieces to try and minimize splinters and to add a decorative element to the front, back, and sides.

Here is everything ready for assembly.

The wood is pretty soft but I predrilled and countersunk all the holes just to play it safe.

I also glued all the joints.

I made the front, back and sides out of two 5 1/2" boards and one 2 1/2" board.

I couldn't find any coated screws in a 1" size at Home Depot so I used coarse drywall screws.

It's starting to look like a box!

I glued and screwed two 20" boards to the bottom.  These were from the 8 that I cut at the beginning.


I was getting ready to cut some more 2 1/2" strips when I found this staple.  It always pays to check your wood before you run it through the tablesaw.

I cut more 2 1/2" strips to make a frame for the top to close in the sides of the foam ice chest.

I made rough marks and slowly inched my way in until the frame fit tightly around the ice chest.

I glued,

nailed,

and stapled the frame together to make it as strong as possible.

Here it is assembled and upside down.

It's a nice tight fit.  I also chamfered the inside and outside of the top of the frame.

I used a piece of scrap from the frame to set how far the lip stuck out in the back.

I glued and nailed the top frame and then used some water as a clamp.

I tested the height of the foam lid with a 2 1/2" scrap and it was a good fit.

 I took another board and cut it down to size to tightly surround the lid.  I also ripped them down to 2 1/2".  I glued, nailed, and clamped the pieces over night.

I put the lid in the cooler to get the proper sitting height,

and then put the frame around it.

The easiest way I could think of to attach the lid to the frame was hot glue.

It worked great as long as I didn't touch the tip of the gun to the Styrofoam.

I put a bead of glue all the way around the frame and then attached two 5 1/4" boards and one 2 1/2" board to keep the 3 board look throughout.

More clamping pressure.

I used that same piece of scrap to set my hinges in 2 1/2" from the ends.

I marked the holes and predrilled.  The hinges came with their own screws that worked great.  I had to go underneath and cut off the ends of the screws because they stuck out a little.  I put a dab of hot glue over the cut pieces so hopefully they won't rust to quickly.


Here is the completed ice chest/cooler box!

I  might put some handles on the sides but with the foam ice chest the entire thing is very light.  I might also put some exterior finish on it but I am interested to see how long the untreated wood lasts so I might not.

27 comments:

  1. Very well put together. I like it. I also like how you said it is pretty light when all put together. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What are the deminsions of the cooler you used

      Delete
    2. can you make it so it can go on wheels so you can roll it to where ever you want it to be at.

      Delete
  2. Hey that looks pretty cool thanks for sharing it with us. I think I will make one too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Mark, if you make one please post a pic of it on my FaceBook page!

      Delete
  3. What about draining the water?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made this box as a kind of proto type so I don't have a solution for that yet with this cooler. I plan to make another one with a full sized ice chest with a built in drain and just porting it over to a spigot on the side. I am going to see if I can find some kind of small flanged tube that I can push through the Styrofoam for drainage.

      Delete
    2. Use an ice chest drain assembly replacement. Just Google "ice chest drain assembly". It will take some adjusting but I have seen it work. Check this link out http://mcallen.en.craigslist.org/art/4122108580.html They make all kinds of nice things. The ice chest they make are just a plastic tote like for storage, and then they frame it with wood. I don't really know their prices, but I like to make things for my self. I have made planters in a similar way as these ice chest. I hope this helps you out.

      Delete
  4. Nice! Did you sand the pickets at all or leave the rough finish?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I left it all rough to give it that rustic feel. I didn't have any outdoor finish to put on it at the time so I just recently gave it 2 coats of outdoor spar urethane.

      Delete
  5. Do you know about how much weight it would hold?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no idea. I filled the ice chest inside completely with water and let it sit overnight and it held up fine. I also sat on top of it while it was empty and it held my weight of 175 lbs.

      Delete
  6. I wonder how this would do with a galvanized metal box instead of the Styrofoam? Any idea how to make one of those metal boxes? Do you have to weld? I plan on making something like this very soon. Thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a very good question. I don't know how to weld but I'm sure you can find some kind of metal box already made and then just build the wood box around it. I am actually making a new cooler box using a full size ice chest right now. You can follow the build here on my blog or you can follow the progress on my YouTube channel.

      http://www.youtube.com/user/FunWithWoodworking/videos

      Delete
  7. if any one has any ideas let me know asap. thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The easiest way would be to bolt some 6 inch wheels to the outside of the back legs. Then you just lift the front and pull. You could also place them on one side and then lift and pull the other side.

      Delete
    2. what kind of hinges did you use.

      Delete
    3. I used two 3 inch door hinges that I picked up at home depot.

      http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-3-in-Oil-Rubbed-Bronze-1-4-in-Radius-Door-Hinge-15014/202558095#.Uiewqp3n-wM

      Delete
    4. can i use different woods for the lid and bottom and the sides

      Delete
  8. What is the over all size L x H x W

    ReplyDelete
  9. You failed to say that to use your measurement you have to use the exact Styrofoam ice chest that you used. The one you used can be bought at wal mart. Just saying.

    ReplyDelete
  10. can i get the blue prints for your project so i can use them to make the same thing for my school project that i have started already and need to sketch it out onto paper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have plans for this one but you can download plans for a larger one here:
      http://funwithwoodworkingtoo.blogspot.com/p/downloads.html

      Delete
  11. great job. one quick question. when you close the lid does it close properly without any issues? I noticed the top foam cover bit has an edge to lock into the bottom base. was wondering if this bit would go into the bottom part without any issues. Thinking of building one myself. that's the only bit that was bothering me

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, no problems. It locks right in and creates a good seal.

      Delete