Beer Cooler from Pallet Wood

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Project by JamesVavra posted 03-06-2012 03:07 AM 20959 views 17 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For quite some time now, I’ve been meaning to make a standing beer cooler that I could park near the smoker and use to top as a work surface when I need to pull big hunks of meat out to glaze/flip/rearrange. Not too long ago, my friend Scott gave me a pile of poplar pallet wood that was full of mineral streaking. Lots of purple and dark greens, but most of it was pure black. This stuff was a full 4/4 thick and 3 7/8” wide. Each piece was 42” long, but almost all of them were cupped and twisted.

The finished piece is about 34” tall, 23” wide, and 13” deep. I built it around an old plastic cooler that I pulled the lid off of. The cast iron Texas was a house warming gift 2 house ago, and the bottle opener is an antique that my wife gave me years ago (for a birthday, I think). It’s finished with teak oil – it will be mostly covered and mostly out of the direct sun, but I expect it to age quickly. Teak oil will be quick and easy to refresh when it’s needed.

Comments, critiques, and questions welcomed.

27 comments so far

View Kevin's profile


575 posts in 3276 days

#1 posted 03-06-2012 03:53 AM

Nice!!!!, makes me wanna have a party. I love the color of the poplar, and the bottle opener is a nice touch.

-- Measure twice, cut once, then sand a whole bunch

View Dallas's profile


73 posts in 3942 days

#2 posted 03-06-2012 04:27 AM

Now that’s a cooler, my friend.

-- If a tree falls in the neighbor's woods, and no one is there to hear it...can you take it home, mill it and turn it into a coffee table without your neighbor making a sound?

View unrested001's profile


76 posts in 3283 days

#3 posted 03-06-2012 04:51 AM

Interesting idea! I’ll drink to that! Great work!

-- I make lots of dust, everything else is just a byproduct of the dust making process!...Frank,NJ

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3541 days

#4 posted 03-06-2012 05:12 AM

The stars are big and bright….

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Tokolosi's profile


678 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 03-06-2012 05:27 AM


Free wood


And the black wood is gorgeous!!

-- “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ~ JRR Tolkien

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 3610 days

#6 posted 03-06-2012 07:24 AM

Really nice work! The Poplar is awesome!

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View dubsaloon's profile


622 posts in 3770 days

#7 posted 03-06-2012 08:54 AM

That is way cool…Pun intended. Great looking cooler!

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View Vinnie's profile


105 posts in 4366 days

#8 posted 03-06-2012 10:19 AM

Wow! That’s awesome! I’ll drink to that too. I use poplar also, but I try to find poplar with no streaking because I use it to make puzzles. Nice job!

-- Personalized name signs, Ham Radio Call Signs, Cut Coin Pendants Home Decor and More!

View mafe's profile


12875 posts in 4066 days

#9 posted 03-06-2012 12:07 PM

Love a good bbc and now with really cold beer!
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3757 days

#10 posted 03-06-2012 12:13 PM

Beauty ! with lots of nice touches.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View hunter71's profile


3541 posts in 4163 days

#11 posted 03-06-2012 12:20 PM

Aren’t pallets neat! Nice job, wrong state for me.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View rusty2010's profile


151 posts in 3534 days

#12 posted 03-06-2012 12:35 PM

Good idea, functional and worry free

-- check, recheck then check again

View toddbeaulieu's profile


842 posts in 3981 days

#13 posted 03-06-2012 01:09 PM

Hi James. I love it!

I am really curious about the reuse of pallets. Could you talk about that?

What are pallets made from? Oak? Aren’t they made from thin stock, like half inch? After jointing and planing, what are left with?

I see hundreds being given away on craigslist and I’m wondering if I should give it a shot.

Thanks for posting!

View JamesVavra's profile


305 posts in 4293 days

#14 posted 03-06-2012 02:03 PM

Thanks for the nice comments everyone.

@Todd: in this case, that stuff was salvaged from a pallet factory before it was actually used, so it was a full 1” thick and had no fastener holes. The guy who gave it to me also had a giant pile of used pallet wood. Much of it was oak, some of it was pine, and all of it was filled with nails and big staples. The bits that form the top and bottom are generally fairly thin ~5/8”, but the members that were between the two surfaces tend to be beefier. Also, there are several different “grades” of pallets – the ones that are used to ship very heavy things are generally much, much better targets for reuse.

I once grabbed a whole pile of pallet material from the warehouse of a Lumber Liquidators flooring supplier. Not really pallets, per se – but 3” x 3” x ~40” skids with a groove in one side. These were placed under the boxes of flooring and then they used giant metal band clamps run through the grooves on the skids and over the top of the flooring boxes. Just enough to elevate them off of the floor and allow a fork lift to get under them. This stuff was all exotic hard wood – there was sapele, purple heart, something that looked like bocote, etc. and the guy just gave it away. Offcuts from a foreign lumber mill.

A while back, someone had posted a blog on here about harvesting pallet wood. They didn’t even mess with the nails, just cut out the shorter lengths between fasteners. Smaller pieces, for sure but a lot less work.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4092 days

#15 posted 03-06-2012 08:59 PM

cool :-)

looking good

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