Deck Cooler Cabinet

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Project by xraydav posted 06-05-2014 11:59 AM 2786 views 13 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Seems this project is all over the internet and at many local flea markets so I decided to try and build one with my own ideas… FIRST AND FORMOST – I wanted to be able to get a beer at family gatherings without having to bend over and tug my Sam Adams from ground level. Next, I wanted it to look nice.

In my ongoing attempt to recycle I used 8 of the old fir boards from my old deck, which I rebuilt last fall. I surfaced them by hand with my jack plane and they came up pretty good. Wanted to use my jointer but the old lead paint and the blades would not be a good match. Then I used new pine for the balance of the project.

First I mated the four corner posts, glued and nailed them. Let them dry overnight. Top and mid rails around the perimeter at the height I wanted for the cooler I had selected. (an old one that looked great inside but beat outside, I had 4 or 5 to choose from collected over the years) Wanted the cooler to stick up above the top rail by 3/4 inch so when I put the 3/4” sill around it, it would be level with the that. And I put one more set of rails around the bottom for the shelf.

Next I cut all my pieces for the sides, front and back. Dimensioned them so that the width would cover in the front and back as well as the sides. I decided to leave the router table alone and 45 degree angle trimmed all the face edges of those boards to give me that novelty pine look. After glueing and nailing all the face and boards, I went to work on the top.

With the top of the cooler body sticking up 3/4” from the rails, I made the sill from 3/4 by 2.5” pine. I also used biscuits in the four corners and of course I used blue label exterior glue from Titebond. With this fit properly, I glued and attached it to the carcass with 2 1/2” coated deck screws. Strong and no rust. Now the sill sat flush with the top of the cooler.

Then I put the plastic cooler top on the cooler and built my 4 sided frame around it. Make sure your frame is square and centered and not compressing the plastic cooler top or do not have too much play. I found my old cooler top was a little out of square but with no more than 1/8th gap at one end. After your done with construction you will never see the outside of that cooler top again.

I chose to use novelty pine look on the top cover boards and beveled them all the way around to get the final look you see. I glued them to the top frame and nailed them. I choose stainless steel hinges and handles for the sides and the top cover.

Unscrewed the plastic hinges from the cooler, and the handles. Had to cut the handle holders off with a hack saw. Unscrewed the drain from the cooler leaving a hole . I bought a 1/2” threaded faucet from Home Depot and also got two threaded to 1/2” copper pipe connectors. Screwed one into the faucet, and put the cooler into the carcass of the cabinet. I used a long shaft 1/8” drill bit and put my drill inside the cooler and drilled out through the cabinet so I could locate the hole in the center of the plastic cooler hole. I enlarged the hole to 5/8ths and pushed my faucet with the threaded insert into the hole. I measured from the threaded insert to the inside of the plastic cooler and cut a piece of copper pipe to give me that length plus 1/2 inch for threading on a new nut. I bought a plastic 1/2” ID threaded fitting and used it for the nut. So now the cooler drain is plumbed to the outside faucet.

Originally planned on painting the whole thing, but I decided to paint the legs the same color as my house and leave the new pine clear. I then trotted my cheeks down to the home supply store and got a small grill cover for it so that it will not ever get rained on. And before you ask, I have already ordered an old style bottle opener and a cap catcher can for the front of it. That should arrive today or tomorrow.

I want to report that my Sam Adams never tasted better!

-- David, Norwood Mass, [email protected]

5 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27002 posts in 4392 days

#1 posted 06-05-2014 12:01 PM

Very nice job on that cabinet !! You will get a lot of use out of it on the deck at cook outs!!
cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View ChrisK's profile


2059 posts in 4368 days

#2 posted 06-05-2014 12:13 PM

Very nice looking, well done.

-- Chris K

View MadeinMT's profile


299 posts in 3446 days

#3 posted 06-05-2014 09:50 PM

Been wondering what to build for a friend’s son who’s getting married in August. Your nicely built cabinet (love the drain valve) answered that question. Thanks for the inspiration. Think I’ll make one out of some old barnwood I acquired.

-- Ron, Montana

View Hawaiilad's profile


3382 posts in 4307 days

#4 posted 06-06-2014 09:08 AM

We have so many parties here and always we trip over the small coolers layed around….I like this Idea allot. Thanks for sharing.

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4881 days

#5 posted 02-04-2019 02:55 PM

Nice project, my wife wants me to do one of these too.

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

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