Introduction: A Big Box O' Bang
Can't have a party without a cooler of refreshing beverages, problem is cowboys, well, they didn't really have access to a lot of blue and white plastic. So what we have here is what you might call a solution to that problem. Some calls it a hideaway box, some calls it a fool-the-eye, but I calls it a Big Box O' Bang.
Step 1: Plannin' & Preparation
We'll be makin' this here BBoB out of ol' scrap wood, and a-usin' all the power tools we kin find, so quicker 'n' a pot full o' rattlesnakes here's yer kit list.
Scrap wood - I used some ol' busted wooden pallets. Mind yerself here, these fellers is more full o' nails and splinters than Betsy's Bar is full o' trouble.
Paint - Any ol' black paint'll do yer.
Nails, screws, an' assorted fittin's - the nails is mostly fer decky-ration, the screws it what holds this caboose together. You'll also need a couple o' hinges, and some corner braces.
Old rope - where you gets this is up to you.
Vinegar'n'steel wool agin' solution - more effective than Dr Inmanne's Original Cure-All, and tastier than a pot o' camp coffee, this is what we'll be fixin' to make our BBoB look old. Y'all can see my Antique Western Saloon Sign instructable fer more info on this powerful liquor.
Now we're gonna be fussin' with some mighty dangerous things here so let's get ourselves kitted out in our safety gear - goggles, gloves, 'n' a mask at a minimum.
Lord Peter Spinsy, or another o' them fancy electricky drills
Table saw, but it ain't talkin'
Hand saw, but he ain't talkin' neither.
Wreckin' bar/ crowbar
Letterin' Stencils o' various sizes, or jest paint by hand.
You kin expect to spend a bit o' time on this 'un. Took me a month o' Tuesdays and then a week o' Sundays. Then two more Sundays o' Mondays.
Step 2: 3:10 to Lumber
The first thing yer gonna wanna do is measure yer cooler - what's that ol' sayin'? Measure Twice, Cut Yourself Once. That's the one. Measure all dimensions of yer cooler, including handles and hinges. These will inform the size o' yer BBoB. You'll need to add a few inches all around so's you kin get yer hands in, an' a few inches to the top so the lid will open.
Once you've got yer measurements, scrawl 'em down on yer worksheet so's you don't fergit 'em. Next you'll need to figger out how many slats you'll need to build the walls and lid o' yer BBoB - it doesn't need a base since it's just gonna sit on over the top o' yer cooler like a cowboy with no pants walkin' through a field o' cactus.
Tot up the number o' slats and begin cuttin' yer planks to length. Now, I like a rougher cut for that authentic look, so I used a handsaw and made sure to vary the plank lengths ever so slightly - maybe 1/32" or so.
It's also a good idea to cut a few more planks than you think you'll need - this way, if something goes wrong or one o' the planks doesn't turn out right, you've already got some spare.
Step 3: The Good, the Bad, and the Rusty
Now here's a good time to be talkin' about whatcher might call the aesthetics o' yer BBoB. Jes' like all time-period appropriate projects, it's a good idea to take a few minutes to think about how your BBoB was used, where did it come from, an' all that sorta thing. My BBoB was used in the ol' West: spent time in Dodge City; retired to Tombstone, Arizona; called out o' retirement to handle some dust-up with a bunch o' local outlaws, and finally settled down in Los Angeles, Californ-eye-ay. So he's been around some - and those travels are gonna show in the lines on his face and the breadth of his back.
So he's gonna look a bit weathered, his nails all rusted, his planks a little worn. We kin use this knowledge right from the start to inform how we build 'im.
Since I know I'm gonna use a bunch o' rusty nails, and since alls I had in my collection were bright 'n' shiny ones, I had to rust 'em up an' quick. Here's where my Patented Agin' Solution* comes in handy. Now a little of this solution goes a long way, so toss a handful o' nails in a jar lid, cover 'em about halfway with the agin' solution, and let set awhile. How long is up to you and the strength o' your solution - for faster, but less predictybull results, add a spoonful or so of bi-carby-nate o' soda *after* you pour it over the nails. I let mine set overnight. Turn 'em every few hours for best results.
* Patented Agin' Solution & Home Remedy - one #0000-grade pad o' steel wool, shredded, and dissolved in a half pint o' white vinegar. Let stand - the longer the better. Keeps ferever. A multitude of uses, including curing dropsy, sheepgut, and The Trembles. Not FDA approved.
Step 4: A Fistful of Splinters
Once you've got yer planks cut to size, arrange 'em in a pleasin' configuration, and we'll find a way to join 'em together. You'll need four walls and a lid, so we'll do these steps five times with minor moddy fickations.
Before you joins 'em, you might want to coat the cut ends like I did with a pastin' or two of Patented Agin' Solution. That'll give 'em some much needed weatherin' and stop 'em from lookin' so new.
For the back wall and both ends, the supports will be on the outside. The front wall and lid will have their supports on the inside. This is for the look o' the thing more than any structural requirements - it'll be easier to apply the stencilwork to a flat surface. You might wanna read the next step before startin' on the lid.
For each wall/ lid, arrange yer slats and (ain't hindsight always 20/20?) mark each slat with its location (front/ back/ left/ right/ lid) and number 'em top to bottom so you can put 'em back together right if you need to move 'em.
I used some ol' pieces o' 1x2 for the battens. Measure, cut to length, and screw into place. For the back wall and ends, screw from the inside, through the wall into the battens. For the front wall and lid, also screw from the inside, but through the batten into the wall/ lid. This is so the screw heads ain't visible.
Since my battens was made from new-ish lumber, I painted 'em wi' more o' my Patented Agin' Solution - see? It really has a multitude o' uses!
To deckyrate the outside o' yer BBoB, we'll use some o' the nails we rusted earlier. Now what I found was where I wanted to position the nails lined up with the screw points from th' other side holdin' the battens in place. You'll see more clear in the photographs. Simply hammerin' the nails in place would push the screws out or jes' prevent the nails from gainin' purchase.
Since I didn't wanna hafta re-position the screws, I hit on the followin' idea. Screw length + nail length > thickness o' wood, but screw length + 1/2 nail length, why, that fit more precise than a fine red dress on one o' the nice ladies down at The Lucky Beaver saloon. So I took my rusted nails and cut 'em all in half or so with a pair o' bolt cutters. O' course, now there was no point to the nail, well, save for the point o' decoratin' the BBoB! But I'm jes' pullin' yer leg. Without a point on the end o' the nails, I had to get creative. Takin' a drill bit o' just a bit smaller than the thickness o' the nail, I drilled pilot holes into the wood, then hammered the nails home. You can see the results in the pickchers.
Step 5: Dances With Wood
Once you've got the walls built, and before startin' on the lid, it's a good idea to make a test fit. I did this so I could make any necessary 'jus'ments to the lid before joinin' it together.
You'll also see from the pikchures that I cut a little slot in the front wall. This will make it easier to get a hand in to open the cooler lid inside.
Step 6: The Holes Whisperer
Afore you go joinin' yer walls and sides together, let's drill some holes in the ends to pass a piece of rope through. These lengths of rope will become functional as well as decorative handles, allowin' you to lift yer BBoB into place. Once you've drilled the holes, pass the rope through, measure and cut to length. Then remove the rope - it'll be easier to put the BBoB together without the rope in the way.
Step 7: The Magnificent Stencil
It's time to get creative! This is one o' my more fav'rit parts o' the whole project. It's also a step where things can go badly wrong, so once again some plannin' here will save you from heartache down the road.
It's a good idea to test yer layout on a piece of scrap, especially since the letterin' may not lay precisely flat due to imperfections in the lumber. Don't aim for perfection, in fact a little bit sloppy will add to the authenticity.
I used three sizes of stencil for my letterin'. Now my stencils didn't come with a % sign or even a /, so I used the diagonal from a Z, and the zeroes from a smaller stencil. Feel free to experiment!
It's easier to perform this step before joinin' the front to the rest of the BBoB.
You can also stencil or paint some words on the lid o' yer BBoB, like I did.
Step 8: The Crate-ful Eight
Here's where yer gonna see all yer hard work come together. I'd initially thought o' using more wooden battens to join the walls together, but that idea ran out o' juice right quick. So I had to fall back to usin' corner brackets screwed into the inside corners. This worked out jes' right. I used two corner brackets on each corner, and put the ends on to the back wall afore puttin' the front wall on.
Then I put the lid in place, lined 'er up, and marked and screwed on the hinges. Worked like a charm!
All that was left was to put the rope handles in place (secured with a knot at each end) and decky-rate the lid.
Step 9: Wild Wild Chest
Now you've got your BBoB together and are satisfied it fits around yer cooler, let's add some finishin' touches. The suggestion for the rope handle for the lid came from my wife, and I think it makes a fine addition to the BBob both decoratively and functionally. I also sanded down some o' the rougher edges, particularly where a person might have a mind to put a hand, and touched up a few spots wi' Patented Agin' Solution where needed.
Let me know what you think in the comments, and thanks fer list'nin'!
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