Introduction: Vintage Cooler Cabinet

My wife and I found an old sewing machine cabinet at a flea market and decided to turn it into a cabinet to hold iced beverages on our patio.  Although the cabinet  was in bad shape cosmetically (much of the veneer had peeled off) , it was structurally sound.   Someone had already removed the sewing machine which was fine, since we didn't need it for our purpose.

Step 1: Preparing the Cabinet

The first thing I did was to finish removing the veneer that was barely hanging on.  Using a scraper, I simply ran the scraper blade under the veneer and that which remained came off easily.  The veneer on the top and the lid was still tightly attached, so I re-glued a few loose edges to keep it from coming loose in the future (photo 1).

The next thing was to build a platform for the cooler to sit in.  I selected two boards from my scrap pile and screwed them into the bottom of the cabinet (photo 2).

Step 2: Making the Cooler Fit the Cabinet

The cooler I used was an old metal ice chest from the '50's.  The outside was rusty, but still sound, and the inside was still in very good shape.  I was initially going to sand and repaint this old ice chest, but my wife preferred the rusty look, so that worked for me!

Using a jig saw, I enlarged the opening at the top of the cabinet (photo 2) so the cooler would fit. 

Next, I measured the height of the cooler and made a pair of risers out of scrap wood (photo 3) to lift the cooler high enough so the lid would open (photos 4 & 5).  When the cooler is not being used, the risers are removed and stored inside the cooler to allow for the lid of the cabinet to be lowered.  Photo 6 shows the cooler in its lowered position.

Step 3: Painting

I painted the cabinet with an outdoor paint.  This will be used on a covered patio where it will not be rained on.  But since it will be exposed to humidity, I painted both the outside and inside of the cabinet.  I also painted the risers, and put some rubber pads on the top of them to keep the cooler from scratching through the paint. 

I painted the inside of the folding lid (and the top of the main cabinet) a contrasting color, which is shown in the next step.

Step 4: Add Some Trim

I purchased a couple of pieces of decorative wood trim, and painted the trim and the original knobs with a contrasting color.  I used this same color on the inside of the lid and the top of the cabinet.

Step 5: Ready to Party!

The final step is to set the cooler inside the cabinet and have a party!

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