This project is for an attractive ice chest made out of cedar wood that holds a Styrofoam cooler plus has a place to hang an ice scoop and bottle opener on the outside.
Wooden ice chests or coolers can be made from recycled pallets, as a couple of the plans below use, or cedar that will age nicely with time. These coolers generally have a rustic appearance, but could also be made with nice wood for a great heirloom.
Here is an old vintage ice chest. Most of the wooden ice chest plans are styled in this basic shape with the 4 legs.
Most of these plans use wood to build around a styrofoam or plastic ice chest. That makes the ice chest easy to insulate. The result is a rustic, aged-looking ice chest with the safe modern convenience of a purchased cooler - a combination of antique and modern.
If you will be using a styrofoam cooler, a 2" thick one should do the trick.
The blue styrofoam is better to use for this project because it is denser than the white, making it easier to cut without falling apart.
If you do use a white styrofoam chest, use a hot knife to cut it to eliminate rough edges and the messy beads. Also try to find a very square cooler. The squarer your cooler is, the easier the ice chest will be to build around it.
An ice chest project will take a good weekend to build, about 10 to 20 hours. And if pallet wood is used so there is no cost for the wood, then the cooler and other necessary accessories should cost under $50.
Any of the free plans below can be adjusted to fix either a styrofoam or plastic cooler. The lid of your cooler will need to be removed, as will any handles.
Basically, the plans will walk you through cutting the wood so it will fit your purchased cooler. Sand the wood and enclose the chest.
Most plans allow for a drain which would be a very good idea. They range from attaching a rubber hose to the drain to using a sink drain with a rubber stopper on a chain.
Then the top of the cooler is attached to the wooden lid. Adding hinges completes the assembly and it's ready to stain or at least waterproof if it doesn't need staining.