DIY Table Cooler

By: Missy Sorg

This project is not for the faint of heart when it comes to DIY projects.  However, I'm going to include an option to make it a little more user friendly.

So, what is this amazing project I just had to blog about?  It's the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to hosting a super fun summer party.  Imagine, if you will, a table!  But, it's not just any table.  This table has a built-in icebox.  No need to keep the food and conversation in one spot and the drinks in another.  And, there's no need to interrupt a perfectly good conversation to get up to refresh your drink.

Don't believe me?  See!


As indicated, this project even makes me twinge a little when I looked at the original designs at Remodelaholic.  So, I figured I could try to do something similar with something you may already have lying around - or something you might be able to get your hands on easily if you know someone who is getting rid of one of those campground-style picnic tables (or something similar).  

What you'll need:

Picnic table with wooden slat top
L-bracket hangers
Deck screws

Much like the guide from Remodelaholic, you're going to want to measure out and build your ice box supports.  To do so with a table that is already built, locate and mark your supports (these are the cross pieces found underneath the tabletop wood pieces.  There should be a support at either end of the table, and one in the middle.  Since we're using a table that is already built, you need to find out how big of a box you need for the actual ice box.  You want to make sure that you're not cutting too much off the top boards and not having enough tabletop to support the ice box.  


Once you've located where you need to have the ice box, measure out the length and width for the space.  Keep in mind you will want to make sure you leave enough side space to accommodate the space for eating.  Once you figure out the basic "maximum" size for your tabletop ice box, hit up the local hardware store to figure out which sized ice box you need.  Basically, look for a relatively cheap planter box that you can frame into the table.


Now that we have the picnic table, and the ice box that's going to go into it, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty.  The first thing you're going to want to do is create a frame of 2X4s to fit around the box you picked up.  Using the basic instructions for Step 1 of the Remodalaholic instructions, you should end up with 4 2x4 pieces that the planter box will slide down into.  You can lay out the 2x4s and secure each corner with a pair of deck screws to create the frame.  

Double check that the ice box will fit properly within the frame.  Once that is done, sand down all the edges to make sure your corners aren't rough.  Once you make sure everything fits, hold the frame and icebox upside down on top of the table where you want it to sit into the tabletop.  Mark out your cut lines with a project pencil and use the jigsaw to cut out the table planks within the box - making sure that you are using clean cuts.  You will repurpose those planks for a "lid" to cover the ice box when it is not in use.  


Now that you have your hole in the top of your table, line up where you want your L-brackets to attach to the bottom of the tabletop to hold your ice box in place.  Generally speaking, you will want support at the corners and in the middle of each side.  Using your deck screws, screw the brackets onto the frame.  Then screw the frame into place on the bottom of the table.  

Using the tabletop pieces that you just cut out to make room for the icebox, connect them together with a pair of 2x4s at either end to create a "lid" for the ice box.  


Once you get everything screwed into place, use a bit of sandpaper to sand down all of the rough edges.  If your table was stained prior to starting this task, you may want to sand the entire thing down and restain it.  Once that is done, you're ready to fill your ice box with some ice and refreshing beverages and invite some friends over for a BBQ!