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How to Make a Wooden Ice Chest Box: A Simple Guide

Are you looking for a fun and practical woodworking project? Making a wooden ice chest box might be just what you need! This project can be completed in a weekend and will provide you with a stylish and functional addition to your outdoor gatherings. With a few basic tools and some cedar fence pickets, you can create a custom ice chest that is perfect for keeping your drinks cold on a hot day.

To get started, gather your materials and tools. You will need cedar fence pickets, a saw, a drill, screws, a cooler, and some basic woodworking tools. Once you have everything you need, you can begin building your ice chest box. Start by making the frame for the box bottom, then attach the sides and lid. Be sure to add a drain spigot and bottle opener for added convenience.

When finished, your wooden ice chest box will be a great addition to any outdoor space. Not only will it keep your drinks cold, but it will also add a touch of rustic charm to your backyard gatherings. So why not give it a try and see what you can create?

Understanding the Basics of a Wooden Ice Chest Box

If you’re looking for a fun and practical DIY project, building a wooden ice chest box is a great option. Not only does it provide a stylish way to keep your drinks cold, but it can also be customized to fit your specific needs. However, before you get started, it’s important to understand the basics of what goes into building a wooden ice chest box.


First and foremost, you’ll need to gather the necessary materials. This will typically include:

  • Wood for the frame and lid
  • Insulation material
  • Screws or nails
  • Hinges and a latch for the lid
  • Handles for easy carrying


Once you have your materials, it’s time to start building. The basic construction of a wooden ice chest box involves creating a frame, adding insulation, and attaching a lid. Here’s a basic overview of the steps involved:

  1. Cut your wood to the appropriate sizes for the frame and lid.
  2. Assemble the frame using screws or nails.
  3. Attach the insulation material to the inside of the frame.
  4. Cut the lid to size and attach it using hinges.
  5. Add a latch to keep the lid securely closed.
  6. Attach handles to make it easy to carry.


One of the great things about building a wooden ice chest box is that you can customize it to fit your specific needs. For example, you could add a drain to make it easy to empty melted ice, or you could add a bottle opener to the side for added convenience. You could also choose to paint or stain the wood to match your personal style.

Overall, building a wooden ice chest box is a fun and rewarding project that can provide you with a practical and stylish addition to your outdoor entertaining space. With a little bit of time and effort, you can create a one-of-a-kind piece that’s sure to impress your friends and family.

Choosing the Right Wood

When building a wooden ice chest box, choosing the right type of wood is essential to ensure durability, functionality, and aesthetics. In this section, we will discuss the different types of wood you can use for your ice chest box and the considerations you need to make when selecting the right wood.

Types of Wood

There are several types of wood that you can choose from when building an ice chest box. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Cedar: Cedar is a popular choice for ice chest boxes because it is naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects. It also has a pleasant aroma that can repel insects and keep your ice chest smelling fresh.

  • Pine: Pine is another popular choice for ice chest boxes because it is affordable, easy to work with, and readily available. However, pine is not as durable as cedar and may require more maintenance over time.

  • Redwood: Redwood is a durable and attractive wood that is resistant to decay, rot, and insects. It is also naturally weather-resistant, making it a great choice for outdoor ice chest boxes.

  • Teak: Teak is a high-end wood that is prized for its durability, resistance to moisture, and beautiful grain patterns. However, it is also expensive and may not be suitable for all budgets.

Considerations for Choosing Wood

When selecting the right wood for your ice chest box, there are several factors you need to consider, including:

  • Durability: You want a wood that is durable and can withstand the wear and tear of regular use. Cedar, redwood, and teak are all great choices for durability.

  • Moisture resistance: Your ice chest box will be exposed to moisture, so you need a wood that can resist rot and decay. Cedar and redwood are both naturally resistant to moisture.

  • Aesthetics: You want your ice chest box to look good, so choose a wood that has an attractive grain pattern and color. Teak and redwood are both known for their beautiful aesthetics.

  • Budget: Different woods come at different price points, so consider your budget when selecting the right wood for your ice chest box. Pine is an affordable option, while teak is more expensive.

By considering these factors and choosing the right type of wood, you can ensure that your ice chest box will be durable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.

Materials and Tools Needed

List of Materials

Before you start building your wooden ice chest cooler box, you’ll need to gather the necessary materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

Materials Quantity
Cedar boards 8-10 1x6x8 boards
Deck screws 1-1/2 inch
Hinges 2-3
Latch 1
Drain spigot 1
Bottle opener 1
Cooler insert 1

Required Tools

Now that you have your materials, you’ll also need the right tools to build your wooden ice chest cooler box. Here’s a list of the required tools:

  • Miter saw
  • Drill
  • ⅛-inch combination countersink bit
  • Clamps
  • Jigsaw
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Safety goggles
  • Sandpaper

Make sure all your tools are in good condition before you start building. You don’t want to be in the middle of a project and realize that your drill bit is dull or your saw blade is bent. Safety goggles are also important to protect your eyes from sawdust and debris.

With all the necessary materials and tools gathered, you’re ready to start building your own wooden ice chest cooler box.

Designing Your Ice Chest Box

When it comes to designing your wooden ice chest box, there are a few key factors to consider. In this section, we’ll cover the dimensions and features you should take into account before starting your DIY project.


The first thing to consider is the size of your ice chest box. The dimensions will depend on how much space you have available and how much you plan to store inside. Here are some general guidelines to help you get started:

  • Width: 24-36 inches
  • Depth: 18-24 inches
  • Height: 22-28 inches

Of course, these are just rough estimates, and you can adjust the dimensions to suit your needs. Keep in mind that you’ll need enough space to store ice as well as your drinks and food.


Once you have an idea of the size you want, you can start thinking about the features you’d like to include in your ice chest box. Here are some popular options:

  • Wheels: Adding wheels to your ice chest box makes it easy to move around, especially if it’s heavy when fully loaded.
  • Drainage: You’ll want to include a drainage system to remove melted ice and prevent your drinks and food from getting waterlogged.
  • Insulation: Insulation will help keep your drinks and food cold for longer periods of time.
  • Lid: A sturdy lid will help keep the cold air inside and prevent any unwanted critters from getting in.
  • Bottle opener: Adding a bottle opener to the side of your ice chest box makes it easy to open drinks without having to search for a separate tool.

By including these features, you’ll be able to create an ice chest box that’s both functional and convenient. Remember to take your time and plan out your design before you start cutting any wood.

Building the Box

Cutting the Wood

To start building your wooden ice chest box, you will need to gather all the necessary materials, including cedar wood boards, deck screws, and a combination countersink bit. Once you have your materials, you can begin cutting the wood to size.

Using a miter saw, make all the straight cuts per the cut list. The cut list will depend on the size of the box you want to build. Make sure to measure twice and cut once to avoid any mistakes.

Assembling the Box

With all the wood cut to size, you can now begin assembling the box. Use long bar clamps to hold the box’s four frame boards together, with the short ones between the long ones.

Using a ⅛-inch combination countersink bit, drill two pilot holes at each joint, and secure the frame with 1½-inch deck screws. Make sure to pre-drill the holes to avoid any splitting of the wood.

Once the frame is secure, you can add the bottom boards. Use the same process as before, drilling pilot holes and securing the boards with deck screws.

With the bottom boards in place, you can now add the side boards. Again, use the same process as before, drilling pilot holes and securing the boards with deck screws.

Finally, add the lid to the box. This can be done by attaching hinges to the back of the box and the lid. Make sure the lid fits snugly on the box to prevent any air from escaping.

Congratulations, you have now built your own wooden ice chest box!

Adding Insulation

To keep your drinks cold for longer periods, it’s important to add insulation to your ice chest. Insulation helps to reduce the transfer of heat from the outside environment to the inside of the chest. Here are some steps to follow when adding insulation to your wooden ice chest.

  1. Choose the right insulation material: There are various insulation materials you can use for your ice chest. Some of the commonly used insulation materials include Styrofoam, foam insulation, and fiberglass insulation. Styrofoam is a popular choice because it’s lightweight and easy to work with. Foam insulation provides better insulation than Styrofoam, but it’s more expensive. Fiberglass insulation is the most effective insulation material, but it’s also the most expensive.

  2. Cut the insulation to size: Measure the inside dimensions of your ice chest and cut the insulation material to size. You can use a utility knife or a saw to cut the insulation material. Make sure the insulation fits snugly inside the chest.

  3. Glue the insulation to the chest: Apply a generous amount of adhesive to the back of the insulation and press it firmly against the inside walls of the chest. Make sure the insulation is evenly distributed and there are no gaps.

  4. Cover the insulation: To protect the insulation from moisture and damage, cover it with a layer of plastic. You can use a plastic sheet or a plastic bag to cover the insulation. Make sure the plastic covers the insulation completely and is tightly sealed.

  5. Finish the chest: Once the insulation is in place, you can finish the chest by adding a lid, hinges, and a latch. You can also add a drain plug to the bottom of the chest to drain any melted ice.

Adding insulation to your wooden ice chest is a simple and effective way to keep your drinks cold for longer periods. By following these steps, you can create a well-insulated ice chest that will keep your drinks cold for hours.

Finishing Touches

Sanding and Finishing

Before you start sanding, make sure the wood is clean and free of any debris. Sand the entire ice chest box with 120-grit sandpaper, followed by 220-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand in the direction of the grain to avoid scratches. Once you’ve sanded the box, wipe it down with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

Now it’s time to apply the finish. You can use a clear coat or a stain to protect the wood and give it a polished look. If you choose to use a clear coat, apply it with a brush or a spray can. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply multiple coats for added protection.

If you prefer a stained look, apply the stain with a brush or a rag. Allow the stain to soak into the wood for a few minutes, then wipe away any excess with a clean cloth. Repeat this process until you achieve the desired color.

Installing Hardware

To complete your ice chest box, you’ll need to install the hardware. You’ll need hinges, a latch, and handles. You can purchase these items at your local hardware store.

First, install the hinges. Place the lid on the box and mark where the hinges will go. Screw the hinges into place, making sure they are level and secure.

Next, install the latch. Place the latch on the front of the box and mark where the screws will go. Screw the latch into place, making sure it is centered and secure.

Finally, install the handles. Place the handles on the sides of the box and mark where the screws will go. Screw the handles into place, making sure they are level and secure.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully built a wooden ice chest box. Now it’s time to fill it with ice and your favorite beverages.

Maintenance Tips

Proper maintenance of your wooden ice chest box will ensure its longevity and keep it looking great. Here are some tips to help you maintain your ice chest box:


To keep your ice chest box clean, wipe it down with a damp cloth after each use. For tougher stains, you can use a mild soap and water solution. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the wood.

It’s also important to keep the inside of the box clean. To prevent mold and bacteria growth, wipe down the inside with a solution of one part vinegar and three parts water. Rinse thoroughly with water and let it air dry before using it again.


If your ice chest box gets damaged, it’s important to repair it as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:

  • Loose or broken boards: If a board is loose or broken, use wood glue to reattach it. Clamp the board in place and let it dry for at least 24 hours before using the ice chest box again.

  • Cracks or splits: If the wood has cracked or split, use wood filler to fill in the gaps. Sand the area smooth once the filler has dried.

  • Warping: If the wood has warped, you may need to replace the affected boards. Sand down the warped area and replace the boards with new ones.

Regular maintenance and repairs will help keep your wooden ice chest box in great condition for years to come.