Introduction: Building a Cooler Bar From Broken Kegerator
This project was done last summer so I don't have many progress pictures. So to make a long story short. I bought it about 12 years ago after I started getting into Homebrew. It started with a basic Ales and soon realized I didn't want to wash bottles so I made the leap to Kegging. Skip 11 years of Ales, Meads and Craft Sodas. It stopped cooling, had a Refrigeration friend come out and take a look and said it would probably be 150 dollars to fix and might not fix it for very long. So this started with a drawing while my kegerator was sitting in the garage awaiting cleanup week in spring and convince my GF that it would be worth keeping to make this into something. She agreed reluctantly.
Wood is best but if you go with Metal I am pretty sure you are able to adapt to the concept I am doing here.
- 1 Broken Fridge
- 2x4's I bought 6 8ft studs you could probably do this with 5 10ft. Your amount depends on Fridge size.
- 1/4 in the Plywood or MDF sheet slightly bigger than the size of your door to the fridge.
- The plywood I used 2 scraps 1 about 3/4 in thick 24in x 24in and a 1/2 in think 36 x 23 in from previous projects. Again these fit mine yours may need to be bigger or smaller.
- 4 castors if you intend on using on grass, bigger the better I used 4in castors it does ok just not on wet grass.
- Hardware handle
- 10ft of 2x2 again I used scrap for mine
- Bottle Caps (optional)
- Epoxy (the only thing that was expensive for this) (optional)
- 1 x 2 trim I had some Oak scrap from a Shelf i made for cookbooks in the kitchen.
- 8 lag bolts
- Pocket Screws Outdoor 2 1/2 or bigger for 2x4 (i used Kreg)
- 1/2 PEX tubing and Connectors if angles are needed for draining.
- on-off valve for PEX
- license plate Please use an expired one. I found mine in a pile of them at the parents house.
- bottle opener
- Dowels (mine were 9/15ths) yours will be different than mine unless using the same Edgestar fridge.
- Outdoor Spar Urethane or your preferred outdoor finish or Outdoor Paint.
- Stain (optional) I used what I had left you will notice on photos it goes wine top to honey middle to weathered oak on the bottom. I didn't care it was just finishing off the stuff I had on hand.
- LED Light strip (Optional )
- USB charging battery (used for cell phones) (Optional ) for LED light strip.
- Sun Umbrella (optional) pipe supports if utilized
- Random wall Ornament (optional) (see eagle ornament)
- Poster 19 x13 (optional)
- Miter Saw
- Circular saw
- Impact Driver
- Tape measure
- Assembly Table to assemble makes it easier I used a 4x4 sheet of plywood on sawhorses.
Step 1: Find a Small Broken Fridge
You have a Friends Fridge broke or your own Kegerator Broke take a look and see if it is right for you. Craiglist or Facebook posting for a Broken Fridge. You don't want a huge one because I find those would probably only be useful for outside on roofed patio's. The Finish used may not hold up to UV well unless using Paint.
Things to look for in a Broken Fridge
- Is Container in good shape, Look for a Rust-free and straight angled fridge with little preferably no misalignment, Cracks, and Holes are also good things to look for but structurally sound is key. Holes and cracks can be filled.
- Compressor and any of the things that actively make it cold do not matter
- Check local regulations on what you need to do to disassemble your Refridgerator. I do not take any responsibility for injuries of what you did or didn't do. I will pretty much skip this step for liability but fair warning Refrigerant is dangerous it can harm you very quickly or cause long term respiratory issues if the vapor created is inhaled. I had a friend take care of it for me.
- Salvage what you can. I took out the regulator inside that set the temp because that is still good and intend on wiring it to a Freezer to make a Keezer in the Future. Took the Castors as they were still good. I for some reason also kept the hinge part of the fridge...I save everything I can from broken stuff if I need to throw it away.
You can also use a Cooler for this but I find that I wanted a heavy bar
Step 2: Building a Frame to Hold a Box
Measure your Fridge Build a Frame that supports this Box I used 2 strips of 1/2 in plywood that goes along the longer length on the back of the Fridge. I figured It won't have too much weight in this but it should be able to support about 100lbs inside of this. Also, I have a grate made from the old shelves of the fridge that should be able to help spread the weight out a bit. I have put about 50 lbs on that and its held and nothing is sitting on the bottom. time will tell if it doesn't hold.
The Frame I made extended about 14 inches out to accommodate the shelf and table.
Step 3: Disassemble the Fridge
Take the door off
take the hinges off
take the castors if relevant off.
take out compressor (friend completed and not documented)
Stripe it down to the bare essentials.
Step 4: Measuring and Planning
Measure out your Fridge What are the Dimensions.
My Fridge was 23 x 21 x 36 yours will most likely be different.
How Long do you want this to be I chose about 48 inches long gave a decent bar size with a side table that is meant to either be for making drinks or another individual to chill and a bottom shelf for the bottles or other things that may be needed in the event you want to have a small supply of spirits on hand.
Do you want a 5ft bar then you can make one. But remember you need support if too long or you will need to adjust the supports on the bottom you may need a 5th and 6th castor in the middle if long enough. I would suggest anything longer than 5 ft you will need an additional castor. anything above 4ft you are going to want to change the runners to be vertical rather than horizontal orientation like I have done on the bottom area.
Step 5: Insert Fridge Box Into Frame (easier Said Than Done)
1. Make sure you have the fridge even with the top of the frame. My Fridge had a slight angle so I had to adjust the plywood supports to provide that for an even top that is level with the frame. This is a crucial step. If you mess this up you might you may not get everything to fit the way you need it too.
I had a flat table large table that I put everything upside down so that the frame and fridge were flat upsides down on this table. I then glued and screwed the 1/2 in plywood strips to the side. However, If you are shallow and need to rise the fridge up use shims to raise it up. I had to do this by 2 mm in order for it to be level on one side.
There is another way if you have clamps. You will need 2 people. While one holds the fridge in place right side up the other person will clamp the frame to the fridge if you have a tight fit too much of a gap you probably won't get it to stay.
Another option is to jack up the fridge to keep it in a position level with the frame I don't know specific steps to do this but if this is the option your choosing something tells me you will be able to figure it out.
Not necessary but I wanted to hide the fridge trim so I cut out 2 2x2 strips where the fridge ends to give it a border with wood instead of ugly plastic.
Cut 2 2x4 ends where the table will be so that you can encase it all in this frame but do not put them in yet. They only are going to be there to make sure the cooler doesn't shift. Make sure to remember to sand, stain and finish these 2 pieces of wood as well in that later step.
on the non table end i added a bunch of 2x2 strips to dress it up a bunch also I had a feeling if I want to add anything its going to need something to hold onto because the other side is going to be a table. Guess what I was right and I found the perfect accessory for that end of this build.
Step 6: Build the Leg Supports
I built a frame that allowed me to put casters on the bottom and attached a scrap piece of plywood this is the larger of the plywoods that I had on hand.
I used 2 lag bolts on each to attach since this will have the most weight and I built the 2 separate. I used 3/8in and about 6 inches long.
As you can tell from the photo I made a mistake here but it is what it is. I wanted to make sure the fridge was leaned slightly towards the drain hole within the fridge. I put a 1/2 slice of plywood on one but then forgot the other side. I inserted one under the caster later on as you can see to level it out.
Also, I used the table and clamps to hold the legs in while I drilled the holes for the lag screws. This was the best way I could figure out. basically had the legs over the edge while I clamped and drilled. then put over the corner so both were overhanging on the table.
Step 7: Build Bar Top With the Fridge Door.
Measure the Door and grab a 2x4 a little bit longer than lenght of all sides of the door (door hing side, handle side and top and bottom and just the edge. This is the frame for you bar top.
then measure the distance from the face of the door to the top of the 2x4's on end. if you have a thicker door than 3 1/2 inches you will not be able to make the lid I made.
take your 2x4 door lid frame and dado cut of 1/4 for the insert of the top for the fridge. my kerf is 1/8 on my table saw so i cut 1/4 dado into each 2x4 used. I was able to get away with 1 straight (make sure straight) 2x4. I ran it through the table saw once moved the guard 1/8 of an inch and ran one more time through making a 1/4 dado for my 1/4 piece of oak veneer mdf.
Take the Measurements and build a basic Frame leaving about 1/2 inch extra on the end. You will see in next step.
Before gluing we get to the second hardest part. I didn't want to drill into the door so i had to find another solution. the door had a reversible door all you had to do was change these door hinges to each side. It gave me an idea to use that as what the frame will insert into. Locking the Frame and the door to basically be one piece.
I sanded some Dowels down to 9/15ths to be able to fit into these hing ports on the door. I measured the door where it would sit flush and then drilled a hole into the 2x4 from the inside portion of the frame. you can do from outside but then you have the end part showing unless you are painting i think it looks bad on things like this. The extra length of the 2x4 frame allow you to have a little give in not hitting the mark 100% on the dot.
Once it dry fits in place and you are confident that everything will work if you start gluing.
start gluing the bar top/door assembly together. I just used glue since these joints won't be under a lot of stress.
Clamp together and wait until your glue dries.
Step 8: Take the Fridge Out to Sand , Stain and Apply Finish to Wood
Title says it all.
I used leftover stain but had to buy OutDoor Poly for this because I didn't want it to be painted. However, Paint is Best in this if you are using it outside. Mine will mostly be in the Garage and occasionally strolled out into the yard. So I chose Stain and Helmsman® Spar Urethane for a protectant. I think i used an entire quart applying 3 or 4 coats. I wanted to use it all i may have applied 5 I forget.
* Remember those 2 end pieces of 2x4 don't forget those. I didn't glue them I just used pocket screws to secure it to the frame. Its there to only keep it in place. figured didn't need glue for that and it held up great.
Once Done and Dry move to the next step
If you want a chalkboard exterior to the Fridge to apply now while it is out of the frame.
Step 9: Assemble Your New Bar Cooler (well...Most of It)
Insert Cooler into the Frame make sure it fits
Secure your Cooler with the 2 pieces of 2x4 on the table end
Install your Top Door and attach hinges and a Hardware Handle.
Look at it isn't it nice your almost done.
Step 10: Make a Side Table.
I am gonna be honest with you. I went expensive on this. I bought Epoxy because I wanted to use the interesting bottle caps from craft brew and soda I have drunk over the years and been able to keep. You can get away with a piece of plywood nailed to the frame.
However, with this, I made a picture frame of oak trim on a 3x4 plywood piece and then nailed it to the frame. I couldn't glue since I already applied finish to the Frame.
I then glued most of the caps down because if you don't they will float and you will have to push them down and the epoxy may not set correctly on those bottle caps.
I skipped the seal coat. Don't skip this. I did and I regretted it. Some of it leaked out because my miters are not great.
follow your pour epoxy directions and there are a thousand tutorials that would be better than mine.
Step 11: Make It Drain !
So I was lucky that this already had a perfect size hole for a pex tube to be inserted and glued on the bottom because this was used for the CO2 line when this was in working order. You may have to do some adjustments because yours will not be the same. Here are some photos of how this was done.
I initially started with just a simple pex with a on off switch but then i realized i can make it drain on end using a right elbow connector. its basic and not too appealing but it does the job since it has about a 2 degree slope down the tube.
Step 12: Add Your Accouterments
I bought a junk box on an auction site because I noticed it had a brass Lid holder, this box contained an Eagle thing and thought it was kinda cool so I screwed it to one end to dress up the 2x2 wood end.
I had an extra USB powered LED lights that had a remote. They are for TV's but the one on my GF's tv fell off and the sticky stuff was worn out. I hot glued underneath the LED lights and snaked the USB into the storage compartment where the Compressor used to be.
I bought an Umbrella for I think for 15 dollars maybe 18 dollars on a local auction site as well and used some Pipe holds to attach to the Eagle End. I kinda messed this up I am sure you will learn from my mistake. I plan on making a PVC holder instead of this galvanized stuff this spring so that looks better and an ground support that adjusts so I can adjust the height if necessary.
Step 13: Enjoy a Cold One With Friends Hopefully in the Near Future.
Some Photos the Final is with the bottom shelf and missing the umbrella because it is still snowy and just a mess outside I live in Minnesota.
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