I wasn’t happy using cheap store bought coolers. They are small and the lids break very easily. I decided to build a cooler chest out of some cedar. I jumped in the truck and headed for the local big box store. I used standard 1 x 8 cedar planks and 4 x 4 posts. Initially I was going to make the stand, insulate, seal it, and add a drain plug right away. Time got away from me so I decided to simply put the cheap store bought cooler inside for the time being. I will have a second video in the future on how to make it a stand alone cooler.
I started out by cutting the 4×4 posts to length. These are going to make up the legs. I square one end, set a stop block, and then cut them all to the same length at the miter saw.
I then cut parts of the 1 x 8 cedar plank a few inches longer than I needed to make the glue up process easier. I glued up two boards to make the stretchers. Once these were dry I could mill them into nice and straight stock. I cut a rabbit at the table saw with only 2 cuts, this rabbit will be where the slats will be positioned. After the stretchers were finished, I added 2 pocket holes to each end. This and the addition of glue will be how they will secure to the posts.
I then milled the slats. I cut them to length at the miter saw, squared up one edge at the jointer, cut them to width at the miter saw and used a straight bit in the router table to make a ship lap joint. This is a great way to allow the boards to expand and contract and avoid gaps in the boards.
With all the parts milled and cut to size we can start assembling. I started with the two sides with the shorter stretchers. I applied glue to the end of the stretchers and use a few clamps and spacer jigs to position the stretchers on the legs. Then I drove the two pocket holes and secured the stretcher. I used a piece of hardboard cut to the same length as the slats to space them correctly.
When attaching the slats, I only applied glue to the center of the boards and drove screws 1″ off center. This will allow the boards to expand and contract. On the corner boards, I used the same thought process but attached them in the corners. That way when they shrink they will utilize the ship lap joint and not make a large gap on the ends by the posts.
Once the two sides were assembled and dried, I could connect them with the 4 larger stretchers. This was made very easy by the clamps and spacer jigs. I applied glue and drove the pocket screws home.
I glued up three boards to make the top. Once dried I could cut it to width at the table saw and use a jig saw to cut a notch on the corners to allow it to clear the posts.
I decided to go with black iron pipe for the handles. It adds a great metal and wood contrast to the project. The handles on the side are only used when the cooler is empty. They are attached to the slats and being the slats are only secured with a few screws, I don’t want to put too much pressure on them.
The project is complete!
LINING THE COOLER AND ADDING THE DRAIN VIDEO >>> TO BE DISPLAYED