Outdoor Cooler

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Project by MikeM posted 02-16-2013 11:42 PM 2923 views 12 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This cooler was a fun project to build, and a challenge. The cooler is about 20” x 15” or so, (I don’t have the actual deminsions in front of me). Its made from rough cut cedar, has a foam and galvanized aluminum insert, cast iron hardware and a danish oil and waterseal finish. I made this for a christmas gift for my in-lays. they tend to entertain fairly often and thought they they might like something rustic to go with their house. I saw the idea at a store in Cloud Croft, New Mexico when I was in that area on business and thought this would be fairly inexpensive and easy to build. I was wrong in the end I probably had close to $140 dollars worth of material and several hours of work into it. I had never worked with sheet metal before and did not have a brake to bend the metal and had to make a makeshift one. (Thanks Dad for helping me with that). It worked actually really well and I was very pleased with the results. Working with the rough cut cedar was also a challenge, I’m used to jointing and surface planning all my stock perfectly flat and square on all four sides but with this project I wanted to keep that rough look on the outside. I used wider boards and ripped them lenght wise to remove any cuping, jointed the sides and glued up larger panels trying to match the grain. the biggest challenge was purchasing the cedar. for some reason, the few lumber suppliers I have in my area didn’t have any cedar in stock. I ended up having to purchase the wood from a home center and that affected my price and selection. Anyway, like I stated before, this was a fun project and I’m hoping to do a few more in the future.

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

-- -Mike, Florida Panhandle

10 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


17919 posts in 4155 days

#1 posted 02-17-2013 12:11 AM

I always like looking at these. Fun project and well done.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View MikeM's profile


15 posts in 3513 days

#2 posted 02-17-2013 12:32 AM

Thanks Ken, it was a lot of fun to make.

-- -Mike, Florida Panhandle

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 5032 days

#3 posted 02-17-2013 01:48 AM

Nice project. I wonder if you couldn’t have just built the box around an ice chest? Just a thought.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View PaulLL's profile


163 posts in 2943 days

#4 posted 02-17-2013 04:46 AM

Cool project, looks really good. I have a brake and can weld aluminum but looks like cajunpen might be on to something, ha! Thanks for the share Mike

View cdkoch's profile


19 posts in 3245 days

#5 posted 02-17-2013 05:09 AM

I’ve been thinking about making one of these with metal insert as opposed to the cooler/ice chest. I’ve just thought that it would look nice that way and I like the way your’s turned out. What did you use for foam…and how well has it kept the cold in? I think the bottom is the most important place for insulation, but did you insultate and/or seal the lid somehow? I can’t quite tell from the pictures. Thanks and nice job!

View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 3287 days

#6 posted 02-17-2013 05:39 AM

That’s really cool; love the design and it sure beats the look of a traditional cooler.

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 2921 days

#7 posted 02-17-2013 05:55 AM

I really like this. It’s a “cool idea” and you really did a nice job on the project. It’s a project worth stealing.

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3992 days

#8 posted 02-17-2013 07:02 AM

Great work!

-- Dreaming patterns

View Pallirondack's profile


66 posts in 3129 days

#9 posted 02-17-2013 04:18 PM

Nicely done. This is a project that is forever on my “to-do” list. Like some of the other folks, I keep going back and forth about making an insert myself or just building it around an existing cooler. Mike, if you were going to make a SECOND one, would you do it the same way? Just curious. Looks great. Kudos!

-- David, Spring Hill, FL -- making projects from recycled pallets

View MikeM's profile


15 posts in 3513 days

#10 posted 02-18-2013 12:43 AM

Thanks everyone for the nice comments. Sorry the pictures are not better, I used my phone to take them and they didn’t come out as clear as I would have wanted. For insulation, I used a 1 inch thick styrofoam sheet and wrapped it around all sides and bottom of the cooler. I bought it at Home Depot and it came in a pack of 6 sheets that were 24”x48”, cost around 8 dollars for the pack. It seams to work pretty well I still have ice in it the next day. I used clear silicone caulk around the seams and where the metal attaches to the wood. I don’t know how to weld (yet) so I rivitted all the overlapping seams on the metal insert. If I make a second one, I would weld the insert, I think it would look better than having the silicone sealant in the seams and obviously last longer. Also I would weld a drain system with a valve on it. On this one, I used a brass fitting and a threaded brass plug. It works but not exactly what I wanted. Also I think I would add a shelf on the bottom. Since making this one I’ve seen some online with a shelf and they looked pretty nice.

-- -Mike, Florida Panhandle

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