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So this summer as I was going through my wallet I noticed that my man-card had expired. When did that happen?

Not being okay with that I decided to get my man on. I took apart the dryer, annndd, put it back together. Did outdoor solar lighting, hung pictures, TV’s, started making beer mugs out of old craft beer bottles, and then I got really ambitious and decided I wanted a rustic backyard cooler/bar.

Well, my journey was as follows.

I went to Home Depot and bought a cooler, what I thought was enough wood (so very, very wrong), a T-Square, a Circular Saw, Orbital Sander, Jigsaw, nails, and Wood Glue.

I then sketched out the basic design I wanted (which I later flipped and altered as I progressed).

First I set the cooler on the 3/4 inch thick plywood sheet I had and measured out how wide I wanted the cooler compartment to be. I didn’t want the cooler to be permanently fixed into the bar so I left about and inch and quarter clearance on all sides.

Once I had the measurements set I cut the plywood and started to frame the cooler.

I kept the cooler side about two inches below the top of the box.

My carpenters appreciate operated by the tried and true axiom, “Measure 32 times, hit things with a hammer, and unplug everything.

Once the frame was done I cut 5.25 x 0.75 inch boards to cover the outside.

With the cooler done I moved onto the bar.

I was going to add an upper level to the bar per my original design, but I then realized that I am not 7 feet tall and it would be extremely inconvenient to try to do anything except hang from the top and do pull ups. So I nixed the second level. I made the bar top two inches lower than the cooler top for some aesthetic contrast.

Same procedure. Once framed, I covered the outside.

Mind you no nail gun here folks. I’d say about 200 nails were hammered into this bad-boy by Your’s Truly. I did put liquid nails between each connection as I went as well.

I put a flat-top edge around the cooler so that people could set drinks on it, and I just thought it looked cool. After that I framed and built the lid.

Legs. Oh the legs. Stupid… Stupid legs. Finding the right height was a process that required setting the now 100 pound bar on anything I could find to get a sense of where I wanted it to rest. I am also very OCD and indecisive/second guessy so it took a while for me to feel satisfied.

Cut the legs to the height I wanted and attached one side then used the workout bench (which was the height I agreed on) to prop up the other side to attach the other two.

Once the legs were on I got to sanding. I used my orbital sander and course grain paper and went to town. Evened out the rough spots (and to be honest the spots where my measurements mayyyy have been a little bit off). I also added accent pieces to completely frame the bar top and sides.

Then I started the polyurethane varnish process. 4 coats for me. I liked the natural color of the wood so I didn’t stain it.

Finally I put on my hardware, knobs, hinges, etc. Lightly sanded it with fine grain paper, put one more UV protectant coat of varnish, and that’s a bar.

1.5 weeks, three smashed fingers, 20 splinters, about $150 in, and four trips to Home Depot. But I have a cool bar that is sturdy, quality made, and a conversation piece.

Hope you like it. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below. Also feel free to share this post.