December 20


How to Make a Wooden Ice Chest Cooler


By William Chutney

Published: December 20, 2021

Making your own DIY ice chest cooler is an excellent beginner’s project. By taking an existing ice cooler and giving it a new wooden finish, you can learn a lot about the basics of DIY. Below is a quick guide explaining how this can be achieved.

Gather the Wood

Before you start building your wooden icebox cooler, you will want to make sure that you have access to all the supplies that you will need. Needless to say, you will need to have wood - 5 to 8 standard pallets should give you more than enough for this project.

You can save yourself some money on your supply costs by simply asking a local landscape supply store if they would be willing to sell you some wooden pallets. They will usually have more than they need and will be happy to sell them to you for a low price.

Cut the Wood

Once you have all the wood that you need, select the best quality and least-damaged slats from your pallets and give them a good scrubbing down so that they are immaculate. The easiest way of separating the slats from the crates so that you can use them for construction is to simply take a power saw and cut through either end. With a good saw, you can even cut through any stubborn nails and screws that remain.

Strip Your Cooler

You now need an ice cooler that you can strip down to its base. It is upon this base that you will fit your new frame. You can use any of the ice chests from this list as a solid foundation for your own cooler box.

Take all the wheels, latches, hinges, handles, etcetera off your base cooler in preparation for the more rustic wooden frame that you will be fitting.

Make the Legs

This is the point at which many people needlessly over-complicate their projects. The frame that you build for your cooler doesn't need to be particularly big and flashy to work well; in fact, there is a lot to be said for a simpler and more conservative approach.

If you cut your 8 slats down to 33 inches in length, you can then make legs by attaching two slats together at 90-degree angles. You can hold them together tightly with a combination of wood glue and wood screws. If you drill holes in the wood for the screws beforehand, then you will find it much easier to put together and reduce splintering.

Prepare Your New Frame

First, you need to work out how many slats you will need to cover the sides of your box. To do this, take two of your legs and place them on top of your cooler so that the corner where the wood meets hangs over the side of the cooler. Measure the distance between them and add on the width of two slats to get your measurement.

The next thing that you need to do is to measure the height of your cooler so you can get together enough wood to cover it. Measure the height of your cooler, then when you have done that, measure the sides of your cooler. You want to have enough slats to cover the entirety of the side plus an additional 4 or 5 inches.

Cut everything down to size and then place the legs on the ground for assembly.

All you need to do now is to place your legs on the ground, making sure that they are all oriented the same way, and glue the frame together. If you pre-drill a couple of holes at either end, you can then screw the slats and legs together. And there you have it – a bespoke chest cooler!

​Here is a good video tutorial too:

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