Introduction: Outdoor Cooler
The project I chose to make is an outdoor cooler for barbeques, pool parties, and any other outdoor activities you and your family may have. My family during the summer is always outside. My family loves to drink when we are in our above ground pool. Every time you have to get out of the pool to get another drink so this standing outdoor cooler is a great idea for my and will work well for not only the pool area, but for our patio as well. Plus a project like this will look nice on your deck or patio as well. I know that money may be tight for some people and the budget for this project is anywhere from $150 to $200 dollars depending on the type of materials you are using and if you want to add any of your own ideas to make the project more of your own. I am not a professional carpenter by any means. I took two years of wood working classes in high school and have built several other projects. To do this project I would say you need some experience in wood working so you are familiar with measurements and know how to use the power tools correctly so you or anyone helping you doesn’t get hurt in the process. Some tools need for this project are a Miter Saw, orbital sander, Nail gun, drill, drill bit, clamps, tape measure, pencil, speed square, table saw or skill saw. If you have a table saw I would use that but you can use a skill saw as well. Next here are some supplies you are going to need: wood glue, 2 inch wood screws, 1 ¼ inch nails for the nail gun, two hinges, paint brush, urethane, waterproof silicone, one to three handles, rubber gloves, old cooler or metal tub, metal sheet, and a spigot valve. Some of these items you may not or there are different ways you can go about doing them and I will talk about those when they come up in the project. For the wood I got seven pieces 1x4x6 pine boards. I also got five 1x6x6 pine boards as well. You could also use recycled wood which was an idea I saw to save some money.
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Step 1: Step One: Measure & Cut Legs
Some people just take all the dimensions for the project they are trying to build and cut out all the pieces first so they only have to assemble it. I would not recommend that because we are human and make mistakes and are off a little sometimes. Which could ruin the rest of your project because now that you decided to cut out all the wood first everything might not fit. So don’t do that. Okay so first off the legs will be made with the 1x4x6 pine boards. The legs are 36” inches tall or three feet. Since your 1x4 pine boards are six feet long just take your tape measure and pencil and measure out three feet and make a pencil mark where it’s at. Then take you speed square and using the pencil mark you just made to make a straight line across the board. Then take the board to your miter saw and make sure it is set to cut 90 degree angles. You can check that with the nob or latch on the front of your saw depending what kind of saw you have and look to see if the angle is at 90 degree, because if not you are going to be off to a rough start. Place your board on the miter saw and make sure it is pushed tight against the little wall on the saw. Now some miter saws may have a red laser line to help you line up your line on the board and the saw. If it does not have the laser I just pull the saw blade down without pressing the trigger so it won’t cut and line up the blade and my line that way. When doing it that way make sure you hold your board up against the wall tight in place so it doesn’t move and then make your cut. Make sure you wear safety glasses and saw dust goes everywhere and you don’t want that in your eyes. Trust me. Also some people like to wear work gloves to avoid slivers or whatever. I personally don’t, but that is totally up to you. Once you make your cut and basically just cut that piece in half you will want to repeat that step three more times.
Step 2: Step Two: Assemble Legs
For this step you will need your nail gun hooked up to your air compressor with your nails in the gun. You will also need your wood glue. I prefer the gorilla brand wood glue, but you can use whatever wood glue you like. Now for this step you can use screws or a nail gun. Be careful if you are going to use screws make sure you drill pilot holes in your boards or the will split. So you should have eight 36” inch long boards. So you are going to be gluing them the long way. So take two of your boards, because two boards are going to equal one leg. So you are going to want to put glue on your finger and put glue all the way down on the 1 inch side of the 36 inch board. So after you have glue on the 1 inch side that is 36 inches long press it against your other board on the front side of the four inch piece so once you put a clamp on the right side, left side and middle that you have a 36 inch tall leg. Make sure you don’t put too much glue on so when you clamp it together it doesn’t leak out a lot. If it doesn’t make sure you wipe it up quick, because when the wood glue dries on a visible area on the project it doesn’t stain well. The glue typically needs about a half hour to forty five minutes to dry so if you have enough clamps glue the rest of your legs together but if not you might have to wait. So once all your legs are glues and dried take your nail gun and nail about every four inches on the area of the legs you put the glue to give the legs more strength. When using your nail gun you may want to wear safety glasses just in case you miss and it bounces off something and comes back at you. Always turn off your air compressor and let the air run out so not accidents occur.
Step 3: Step Three: Assemble Frame for Cooler & Attach Legs
So I am using a metal tub for my cooler inside and it is 12” inches wide and 24” inches long. So I am going to make a fame for that and you want to make sure its snug. Do not use the measurements I gave you here if you have a different size tub or are using a cooler because it will not work. You can use an old cooler, a new one, or a metal tub which is what I am using for this part. My advice for this part would be to use the cooler that you chose for this project as a template. So I used my 1x6x6 board for this part because eventually this will turn into the outer box to hide your cooler or metal tub. So I made my frame rectangular frame and made sure my cooler was snug. So now you are going to put the frame on the ground and grab your legs again. Take the leg and put it to the outside corner of the frame and the leg should fit the corner, because they should both be 90 degree angles. Grab your drill and your two inch screws and screw a leg to each corner of the frame. So when you are done you should be able to flip it over and it should be able to stand on its own.
Step 4: Step Four: Building the Top Apron
For this step you have two options. You can either cut your boards at 90 degree angles or 45 degree angles. Cutting at 90 degrees is a lot less complicated so if you are new to wood working I would suggest that. This part is the upper counter on the cooler where the lid will rest. So I took my 1x6x6 boards and I cut out two pieces that at 23 inches long and two pieces that are 35 inches long. I then set my miter saw to cut at 45 degrees which you can adjust that on the front. I then cut all four of those pieces to 45 degrees so when I glue them together they will look like a picture frame. Once you have glued those four pieces together you can glue it to the top part of your cooler. Once you have done that you may want to see if your cooler still fits.
Step 5: Step Five: Build the Frame to Support Cooler & Attach to the Legs
What you basically want to do hear is make another frame at the exact same dimensions that we did back in step three. Once you have done that you should have another rectangle frame the exact same size as the one in step three. Now you are going to want to cut three boards that are 12 inches the same size as the sides on your frame. You are then going to want to screw those three board in the middle of the frame to provide support for the cooler. Make sure you drill pilot hole before screwing these in. Flip your partial cooler upside down so all four legs aren’t on the ground. Put you cooler or metal tub in you frame with the opening facing the floor since it’s upside down. Then take the frame you just made and put it snug against the bottom of the cooler and screw the legs to the cooler support frame so it will hold up your cooler.
Step 6: Step Six: Assemble Cooler Sides
For the sides to cover up the side of your cooler you can either have you boards going vertically or horizontally. I decided to do mine horizontally. Since my metal tub is 15 inches deep plus the frame that supports the cooler which is one inch. I want to cover all that up so I am going to use my 1x6 boards for all the sides. I will use three of them to cover up the cooler. You will cut six pieces to 24 inches long. Three for the front and three for the back. Then you will cut six 12 inch pieces for the sides. Then grab the nail gun and your safety glasses again and nail all your sides up so you can no longer see your cooler from the sides.
Step 7: Step Seven: Installing Drain Valve
This part was kind of tricky for me, because I haven’t done anything with plumbing or anything so I called my dad and asked him to explain to me on what I am supposed to do. So first I took my valve and I got my drill bit set. What I did was fin a drill bit that almost the same size as my valve. Once I found the one that I thought would work I went from the inside of my metal tub and drilled through the right side and made a hole. I can’t really give you an exact size on the bit because your valve could be different. My advice is to always start with a smaller bit because if it doesn’t fit at first you can always get a bigger bit. If you make it too big you are going to have to get a bigger valve or fix it somehow. So the screw your valve into the hole and then use the waterproof silicone to seal around the valve inside the cooler.
Step 8: Step Eight: Constructing the Lid
So right now you should have a standing cooler without a lid. For your lid you are going to take your 1x6x6 board and this is where you are going to need your skill saw or table saw if you have one. What you are going to do is rip out a 1x1x6 piece. You can buy a 1x1x6 piece at the store but I decided to just cut one out of the wood I already had. Next you are going to want to measure the inside off your cooler since that is the area you are going to cover. Once you have done that you will know how big to make your lid. Since the inside of my cooler is 12 inches wide and 24 inches long I am going to make my lid 13 inches wide and 25 inches long. So then take that 1x1x6 board and cut two 13 inch and 25 inch pieces. Then cut out two 24 inch pieces from your 1x6x6 board for the top of the lid. Now you are going to assemble the door. The 1x1 pieces are the frame and the two 24 inch pieces are the top. While assembling the lid make sure that you drill pilot holes as you will be screwing this together and pilot holes with prevent the wood from splitting. So once you have that done that you are going to take the metal sheet which I bought from Menards and nail it to the inside of the lid with the nail gun. I bought this metal sheet to the perfect size I needed so I wouldn’t have to cut it. I wanted to make this project my own so I bought adhesive letters and put my last name on the inside of the lid. You could do that too or put your favorite football team on there or something like that. Once you have done that then you can line up your lid and screw on the hinges. Then you can install your handle on the front.
Step 9: Step Nine: Constructing the Bottom Shelf
We are first going to make a frame to support the shelf. So first take the board that we rip cut the 1x1 piece out for the lid and rip another 1x1 piece out. Then cut that piece into two 12 inch pieces and two 24 inch pieces. You can put your shelf anywhere really, but I put mine 6 inches from the ground. Then drilled the pieces to the inside of the cooler leg. Then I took a 1x4 board and cut six 12 inch pieces which you will drill to the frame that we attached to the legs.
Step 10: Step Ten: Sanding, Staining, & Sealing
You are going to want to a light sand paper on your sander and sand your entire project. Once you have sanded your project you can stain it, paint it whatever you like. I picked a dark stain for this, because I like dark wood and what I do is put on a latex glove and just get an old white sock and just dip my fingers in with the sock and stain my project. Once you have stained your project and let it dry it’s time to grab the paint brush and the urethane and apply it to your entire project. I highly suggest you not forget this part, because if you have your cooler outside the urethane seals and protect the wood from water and weather damage so it will last.
Step 11: Step Eleven: Add Finishing Touches
When I was looking at other coolers on the instructables they all had bottle openers on their project so I thought it would be a good idea to put one on mine. You could also add wheels to the bottom to make it more mobile or even a little side table that flips up on the side. Those are some things I may look to do in the future with my project, but for now it’s ready to roll. To bad its almost winter. I can't wait to test it out next summer. Hope you enjoyed the read.