DIY Patio Table with Built-in Beer/Wine Coolers

Really, what is better than a patio table with a built in cooler! Who really wants to get up to get another beer?

Almost everyone has seen this picture of the wine cooler patio table ether on Pinterest or Reddit.

This picture was taken at Medlock Ames’ tasting room. Picture source: dwell.com

Right after my husband saw this he asked me to make it happen. I was already in the process of designing a patio table so I decided to take a stab at it.  I wanted to make a table that was more than just a table with a cooler in the center all the time. I wanted to have to option of covering it when not in use so we can do full meals on it too. I pulled up SolidWorks and started playing around with the idea. Here is what I came up with:

Patio Table with built in Beer/Wine Cooler with Lids

Like in my farmhouse table post I am going to be breaking the instructions into two parts. The first will be the construction of the table and the second will be the finishing instructions. 

Part 1: Table Construction

Materials needed:

  1. Wood (We used Spruce, see cut list)
  2. Wood glue
  3. Wood filler 
  4. Wood screws (1-1/4″)
  5. Wood screws (2-1/2″)
  6. Sandpaper (110 grit)
  7. Two plastic planter boxes (denoted pb throughout the instructions)

Cost of Materials:

  1. $75 from local lumber yard
  2. $5 from Home Depot
  3. $7.50 from Home Depot 
  4. About $10
  5. About $10
  6. $8 from Home Depot
  7. $24 from Home Depot or Amazon

 Tools needed:

Total Cost for construction: $139.50

Wood cut list:

2 – 6X2 @ 5′ 9-1/4″ (top long board)
3 – 8X2 @ 1′ 9″ (top side and middle board)
12 – 2X4 @ 1′ 11-3/4″ (top center board)
4 – 2X4 @ 2′ 5-1/4″ (legs)
2 – 1X4 @ 5′ 2-1/4″ (outer long skirt)
2 – 1X4 @ 5′ 6-1/4″ (inside long skirt)
2 – 1X4 @ 2′ 5″ (short skirt)
4 – 1X4 @ 2′ 3-1/2″ (cross beam)
4 – 1X4 @ 2′ 1-1/4″ (box supports)
4 – 1X6 @ 1′ 11-3/4″ (long box side)
4 – 1X6 @ 8-3/4″ (short box side)
10 – 1X2 @ 7-1/4″ (bottom box)

A little more about the design:

The first thing I did after having the initial concept sketched out in SoildWorks was go out and find the perfect cooler insert. We first looked into getting gutters but they come in large pieces and didn’t seem like they would work well for our design. Next we contemplated using sheet metal and bending it to shape we were looking for.  At this point we were still planning on installing a drain at the bottom to let the melted ice out. After walking up and down the aisles at Home Depot we came to the gardening department. The idea clicked, why not use planter boxes and instead of having one long one, having 2 short coolers?

View of the table top. I have one lid on and the other is transparent.

Going back to the drawing board, I played around with the design to incorporate the two planter boxes. We decided to have the planter boxes be removable instead of installing a drain. This was much simpler and now we have the option of replacing the boxes if for some reason they break during the years of future use without having to do construction on the table.  The planter boxes also have a nice rim on the outside for the lids to sit on, another added bonus.

View of the bottom of the table. I only drew the planter box supports on one side. It is the same thing copied over to the other side.

Instructions:

After the designs were done was head to our local lumber yard to get our cut list made. At the time, we didn’t have a way to cut wood accurately enough to do our own so we had the lumber yard do this for us (for a small fee).

The first step after getting home with all the boards is to sand all of them. Alex jumped in and did this for me again; I think he secretly loves sanding.

Using the Kreg Jig we put pocket holes in both ends of eight of the top center boards (2X4 @ 1′ 11-3/4″), the other four are going to be used for the lid and do not need these holes. On a side note, this was my first time using theKreg Jig and absolutely love it! It is super easy to set up and use. I used this website to walk me through the set up and how to use it.

Arrange all the top boards on the ground, face down (pocket holes up). Put the planter boxes (PB) into place upside down (hole side down). This was to made sure we left enough space so the PB could lift out from in between the boards.

Next apply wood glue to the ends of the now Kreg Jigged top center boards.  Using the 2-1/2″ wood screws, attach the top center boards to the middle board through the pocket holes.  Make sure to hold both the boards down when doing this. I actually stood on both the boards while Alex screwed them in.

After the eight boards are attached to the middle board, repeat the same thing for the two side boards attaching them to the center boards.

The Kreg Jig was used again to make holes down the top long boards. Using a pencil, mark off points where the side and middle boards make contact with the long board (two spots at each junction were pocket holes will be made). Six pocket holes are made on each top long board.

Attach the long side board through the pocket holes using 2-1/2″ screws after applying wood glue.

The next step is to make the boxes to go around the PBs. The first step to do this is screwing together the sides of the box. This is done by first counter boring holes then adding wood glue between the attaching surfaces.  Make sure to use a square to make everything line up before using 1-1/4″ screws to attach them together..

Then, using a pencil and counter bore bit, mark off and counter bore five even-ish spaced holes on both long sides of the box. The only thing that is important about this step is to get the cross holes to line up enough to be able to screw the bottom supports together.

Put the pb inside the newly made pb support box. On a flat surface, place this assembly upside down. The plastic pb should be the only thing touching the surface.  Next take the box supports (1X4 @ 2′ 1-1/4″) and place them up against the wooden box so it is flush on both ends and also siting on the flat surface (the same as the plastic pb).

Using 1-1/4″ screws attach the box support boards to the wooden box. We did not counter bore these screw holes because they are not going to be visible at the end. We did add wood glue.

Here comes a little bit of a tricky part. We need to attach two of the cross beam boards to the box assemblies before assembling the table skirt. This was done by measuring and making the centers of both the cross beam board and the short box side of the wooden box. Use a T-square to make nice straight lines at the proper lengths. I love putting my T-square from my freshman Engineering Graphics class to use.

After the cross beam board is lined up use a clamp to hold it in place. Don’t forget to put wood glue between before clamping.

Then using eight 1-1/4″ screws to attach the cross beam board to the wooden box (four screws in the box supports and four in the wooden box).

Next lay out the pb assemblies and table skirt boards on top of the facedown table top. Mark out the placement of the needed pocket holes to attach the skirt to the table top. Using the Kreg Jig make the pocket holes at the marks.
After making sure the pb box assemblies are completely center with the holes in table top, wood glue the table skirts and attach them to the table top via the pocket holes.

Next pull up the pb box assemblies, added wood glue on the areas that make contact with the table top and placed them back down making sure the holes are still lined up. To attach the cross beams to the table skirt drill two counter bored holes at each junction. Using 1-1/4″ screws attach all eight junctions together.

Next line up the legs (2×4 @ 2′ 5-1/4″) and the outer long skirt (1X4 @ 5′ 2-1/4″). The outer long skirt is just for on the long side of the table, it will cover all the holes made to attach the skirt to the cross beams. Attach the outer long skirt by first applying wood glue to the backside and screwing it together through the inside using 1-1/4″ wood screws.

I didn’t get a great picture of this step. The red arrows are pointing out the outer skirt. The purple arrow is pointing out one of the screws attaching the outer skirt with the normal skirt.

Raise the table up onto sawhorses to attach the legs (this just makes it nicer for your body to get in the correct angle).  Attach the legs by adding wood glue and using four 1-1/4″ wood screws in each corner. Use a clamp to help hold the boards together. We did the two holes closest to the corner then moved the clamp outwards for the second set of screws.

The table is now ready to be flipped over onto its legs. Used wood filler to cover the few counter bored holes that are showing. Don’t forget the ones on the towards the bottom of the side of the wooden box (we forgot and they do show). After the wood filler is dry the last step for the main table in to sand down every imperfect surface to prep for the finish.

The two lids are the final part to finish off the construction portion of the table. We made the lids by taking two of the center boards and attaching them together in four spots through pocket holes with 2-1/2″ wood screws and wood glue.  Use a clamp to help hold them together.

Using a 1-1/2″ hole saw bit, cut a hole through the lids so they can pull them up after they are covering the coolers.

The lid ends might need to be sanded down to help them slid in and out easier.

Section 2: Staining / finish

Materials needed:

  1. Benite wood conditioner (1 quart)
  2. Wood stain (1 pint, Dalys’ 45 cherry)
  3. SeaFin Teak Oil (1 gallon)
  4. 3M Final Stripping Pads
  5. 110 grit sand paper
  6. Sponge brushes
  7. Rags/ old t-shirts
  8. Disposable cup (red solo cup)

 Cost of materials

  1. $16.75 from Dalys 
  2. $10.45 from Dalys
  3. $53.95 from Dalys
  4. $2.41 from Dalys
  5. Accounted for in construction
  6. About $3
  7. Free
  8. Already had

 Tools needed:

  • Electric sander

Total finishing Cost: $86.50

Total Overall Cost: $226

Instructions:

If you want a more detailed explanation on the wood conditioner and stain please look at my farmhouse table post(this was our first table built). 

Using a sponge brush apply Benite wood conditioner to all the surfaces of the table, top and bottom. Really coat everything! This is really going to help protect the table while outside. After applying it to all the surfaces wipe what little excess is left on the top with a rag. Let the conditioner dry for 24 hours.

The wood stain comes next. Apply as thick of a coat on as possible, you really want it pooled on as much as you can. I applied the wood stain and Alex came about 3 minutes behind me wiping it off with a rag. We used a test piece beforehand to figure out how long we wanted to stain on to get the color we wanted. Wait 24 hours before starting the next step.

The last step is to apply the Seafin teak oil to the table surfaces. We did this by using a sponge brush to put an even coat on all the exposed surfaces. We were told by the local stain store to do at least 7 coats and to let them dry at least 12 hours in between. Teak oil will wear down over time and will need to be recoated after about four years. The one nice thing about it is that we don’t have to take the table in or cover it during the Seattle winter. This might be different for a cold climate I am not exactly sure. I would recommend going to your local stain store and find out what your climate requires.

Another top coat option the guys at Daly’s were telling me about was SeaFin Aquaspar. If I remember right they told us we would need to cover this table or bring it in for the winter. They also said that when this needs refinished you has to sand it all the way down to refinish whereas the teak oil you can just add coats on top of the old stuff.

Don’t forget to stain and finish your lids too. We hung ours from of garage ceiling using wire so we could do both sides at once.

One thing I wish I had done before stain the table was pick out the chairs. We had a really hard time finding chairs they sell without a table that matched our stain. We ended up finding the ones in the picture from Big Lots. Very comfortable but they sit a couple inches to short for the table. Nothing we can’t fix by cutting down the legs a little bit.

Now it is time to sit back and relax, with a glass of wine (or beer) and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Thanks for reading

165 thoughts on “DIY Patio Table with Built-in Beer/Wine Coolers

  1. WOW That is a great table Love it. Been looking for a new patio table to build with my wife. In Calgary Alberta. Will send pics next sprin when we can build. THANK YOU.

    • Hey Paul
      How did it work out. I happen to be in Calgary as well where did you shop for your materials. I am thinking ill do this for the summer as well.
      Thanks!
      Becca

    • Im also in Calgary and my husband and i are wanting to build this but are very intimidated by it! Haha how did your turn out?

    • My son saw these instructions for this picnic table and wants me to build one for him. Although I am a novice at this I first noticed the chemicals suggested is really too much. You cant buy Daly at Home depot or Lowes. The stores are in different states than my own so Daly can hit you with a huge shipping and handling. That’s where most purchases out of town make extra profit. This table is a great idea. the problem with it is that you can only fit four people comfortably around the table even though they show six chairs. If you look at the two end spots to sit there is only eights inches to put food while the other four places on either side has almost sixteen inches. My recommendation is to lengthen it so three people can sit on either side. Purchase Cabot redwood stain. Stain it then apply Cabot Spar Varnish which is used for ultimate UV protection, and Marine durable. Marine durable means that it is used on boats exterior. A gallon of this is about $32 at Lowes and the stain is cheap.

    • The table is a great idea but a few changes would be in order. Number one, the plastic planter should not be used. You have to dig down on the inside of the table to grab a edge to pull it out and with water and ice in it, it is very heavy. Galvanized is best. You can spend a little extra money and have two made that stick up about a inch or more to grab it to pull it out. Or/and install a drain hole in the bottom. To put the boards in the slot you just have to pull out the galvanized buckets then put the boards in for a full table. Instead of spending all that money for Daly products plus shipping and handling you can us just stain then 7 coats of Cabot spar varnish which is used on the exterior of wooden boats. It costs only $32 at Lowes for a gallon and you can a void heavy shipping and handling. If I were a betting man I would say that Sarah is in cahoots selling Daly in some way. My last post is still in moderation which means it probable wont be posted. Same with this. The money you save buying chemicals can go towards buying galvanized buckets. You can also buy the galvanized buckets already made but may have to change the size of your hole in the center.

  2. Hi,

    I have recently decided to pick up a hobby so I have just started woodworking. I think I am going to give this table a shot (with a more experience friend) but, I have one question. Your cut list says to cut the ‘top side and middle board’ @ 1’9″, the design calls for 6 top center 2×4′s on each half of the table, and 2 6×2 top long boards. When I add up the width using the top side and middle board, 21 inches and the width of the 2 6×2 top long board i get 33 inches wide. But when I add up the 6 2×4′s and the 2 2×6′s I get 36″. Is this a typo on the cut list or am I not accounting for something? Thank you any help would be useful.

    • Due to the modernization of lumber mills, dimensional lumber isn’t the size that it says it is. A 2×4 is actually 1.5×3.5 and a 2×6 is 1.5×5.5. Old lumber mills would clean the rough marks out of a 2″x4″ piece of wood by shaving off a little from all four sides, and the resulting piece would be about 1.5″x3.5″. Modern lumber mills are much more efficient, but the trend was already so well established that it continues even today.
      If you do your math again, you’ll find that 6 1.5×3.5′s and 2 1.5×5.5′s add up to 32 (the finished width of the table). 6 2×4′s are, indeed, 21″ across.

  3. Awesome idea!

    I’m new to wood working and I was looking at your supply list. What number 2-1/2 and 1-1-4 screws should we use?

  4. Hi, really enjoy your build!! Question: what is the width and height of the planter box? It would seem that in order to remove it from the table it would have to be less than 7in wide (which is the combined width of the 2 2x4s
    Thanks again for the detailed instructions!

  5. Great design, great instructions, etc., etc., etc. BUT – I was alarmed to see that you were using all these electrical tools barefooted! Not a good example to set, I don’t think.

    • I know I am horrible for doing that in the pictures! It was summer and I didn’t think about it. I really do wear shoes for anything bigger then a electric screwdriver.

      • hey sarah,
        Really love the design and looks of the table, i am thinking about building this in my shop class in highschool and i was wondering what the functionality is like, expecially how easy is it to get the planter boxes out when they need to be emptied
        regards,
        Will

  6. Hi,

    Love this project. Can’t wait to get started. I see that you mention getting 2 planter boxes for the project, but you don’t specify their size. Based on the dimensions of the box supports I’m assuming the PBs would be 6″x11.75″x6″. Would that be correct?

    • However all planter boxes do come with plug and plug covers that are usually attached with a band of plastic so you could conceivably reach underneath and pop the covers off when the evening is over, but you would have to make sure that the wooden slats underneath the planter boxes are not in the way of doing that. And you would have to not mind that it drained out under the table – could work if the table is on a deck. You could get a little fancier and attach some type of flexible rubber tubing to the planter box drains right from the get go and then just have them on hidden hooks up underneath the table at the same level as the boxes while in use so they don’t drain and then before going to bed put the tubing down to drain – could even make it long enough that you actually reuse the water to water actual planters with flowers along the deck edge!

  7. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the great table design, I’m busy building the table, but using your cut list, and not checking properly before submitting, got me into having to have some pieces re-cut. As per your list:

    3 – 8X2 @ 1′ 9″ (top side and middle board)
    12 – 2X4 @ 1′ 11-3/4″ (top center board)

    Now 6 top center boards should fit into on top side and middle board. 4×6 = 24 inches = 609.6mm. 1′ 9″ = 533.4mm. Maybe I did the conversion to metric wrong, could you check if you don’t mind and fix the cut list if you so desire. Again, thanks for awesome ideas.

    Martin

    • Sarah,

      Sorry, the answer to my conversion question is as per Walter’s explanation above. I converted the 2×4 as is instead of 1.5×3.5.

      Martin

  8. I love this design and im going to start building one, and thanks for the detailed instructions. One question, do you find it to be sturdy enough with just the 2×4 legs?

  9. really like the idea but will build it as a buffet table , higher and narrow. daughters want one for their patio.

  10. Love this Patio table idea but I want to make the Bar Height. Any suggestions on how to change it to be taller? I know the legs need to be longer but do I need to change up the legs width? ANy suggestions please let me know. Thanks!

  11. I really love this– the only mod I’d make is putting drains in the ice troughs– adjustable so you can either have them hold ice water for bottle chillin’ time, or open fully to drain out when not in use. A pitcock type valve would work, like on a car radiator. That way, you could more sturdily attach the planter boxes, too. Did I say I love this table? I do!

  12. Love this idea, I have an old but well built picnic table that I have been wanting to pitch. Before I do that I will remove the center boards and build the boxes. We use it for putting out the food on when entertaining. I will measure my serving bowls for making one side for cold dishes. Can’t wait until the weather breaks to get started.

  13. I love this design. Ive been wanting to build an outdoor table for a while and I knew if I showed my husband this photo he would totally agree. I’ve bought all my timber, using macrocarpa and about o get started. I actually found the photo of this table on someone’s facebook page, I googled “awesome outdoor table facebook ” in the hope of getting a clearly photo only to find your website. I was so happy to find it, it will make building the table so much easier. Thanks so much.

      • According to the cut list, “2 – 6X2 @ 5′ 9-1/4″ (top long board), 3 – 8X2 @ 1′ 9″ (top side and middle board), and
        12 – 2X4 @ 1′ 11-3/4″ (top center board)” the top long boards do equal 69.25″ however when you add the top side and middle boards with the top center boards (3 @ 7.5″ and 2 @ 23.75) equals 70″. Easily fixed by extending the top long boards to 70″ long or 5′-10″, or am I doing the math incorrectly?

  14. Is there enough room on the ends of the table to mount a 4×4 post to use for legs if a person wanted to make the table more of a pub table height? I’m not sure if if the 2×4′s would be sturdy enough.

    thanks

  15. Sarah/Alex,

    Awesome table as everyone has mentioned! I’m wanting to do the same thing immediately. I was going to hit up Lowe’s or Home Depot for lumber (and possibly a local lumber yard, gotta do some more research)….is the lumber you purchased pressure treated? Or treated with anything beforehand? Or untreated? I know you added wood conditioner and things like that, and I figure pressure treated wood would have to wait for at least 5-6 months for wood to dry out. Let me know! Thanks!

    • Use pressure treated wood if you have the option! We did not but really wish we had. The table looked great up to the point of the rainy season in Seattle.

      We where also told the we didn’t sand well enough also before putting the finish on. Sand and sand some more! We now are going to have to sand again and refinish.

    • If you can afford it, cedar would be both beautiful and require no staining. It will silver beautifully over time. NB: in moist climates, chose red over white to resist mold.

  16. OK, I just have to say that your blog is so refreshing! I get so tired of clicking on cool “DIY projects” posted from blogs onto Pinterest that, when you actually get to the blog post, the blogger is more interested in showing off her cutesy blog templates and fancy photography than actually explaining the step-by-step how-to’s. I suppose most blogger’s aren’t engineers…but seriously! My husband and I love woodworking and we need more REAL resources like this. Keep posting cool projects!! :)

    • Hi Kim,

      The planter box dimensions are 24″x7″.

      I don’t have the height on me. We moved to Norway and the table stayed behind in Seattle. :( Sorry I can’t help out more.

      Here is the link to the exact one on amazon http://bit.ly/15epkHy
      I bought mine from Home Depot, if you are wanting to find one and measure.

    • Table looks great! any changes you would have liked to have made? I just got my planter boxes but haven’t bought the wood yet. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks

    • I didn’t notice I skipped this step on this post but it is in the longer finishing explain in out farmhouse table post. It is not a requirement but we used the stripping pads between the layers of the teak oil. This lightly sands the surface to prepare for the next coat.

  17. Did you leave any spacing buffer to account for the layers of teak oil between the pull out tops and the rest of the table? I’m going to use sealer and I’m concerned that if I cut it too close they won’t fit in after the coating is put on.

  18. Great table, plans, picture, and descriptions.

    Enjoy Norway! My sister once lived there but she and her family now live in the states and visit Norway as her husband is from Oslo. Best of luck.

  19. First of all I’d like to commend you on the design of this table, it is awesome. I am going to school as an industrial design Major and I love when things look great and are also really functional in many ways and this table definitely fits the bill. I am going to build this table for my wife and for our backyard patio. I was wondering if you had a list of the lumber that you bought in pre-cut dimensions to make it easier going to Home Depot. I’m going to have them cut it so I can ensure good cuts and measures but I would have to do a lot of math to figure out pre-cut lumber to the final cut list. I’d also like to reduce as much waste as possible with also understanding that there be some waste. I just don’t want to buy a 12′ piece of lumber where an 8′ would have sufficed. Thank you very much again for sharing your design!

  20. Awesome idea, def going to make this. I’m not sure if anyone else mentioned this because I’m too lazy to read all the comments, but I would add a hole in the center to put an umbrella through…….

  21. hey thanks for the great design just finished mine over a long weekend. I figure out after buying the wood getting everything organized making the cuts myself… it’s taken me about 20 hours. I still have minor sanding to do and staining to do. But looks great.

  22. First of all, AWESOME idea! And thanks doing the designing and the detailed instructions. Thinking that if you double up, nest the planter boxes and maybe even use spray foam insulation in between, it’ll keep everything cooler longer? Or am I over-thinking it?

  23. Built this table, everyone loves it. Dark stained the top but did a driftwood stain on skirts and legs. Thanks Sarah and Alex for the design. I also made mine 7 inches wider(width of 2 extra 2 x 4′s)

  24. I absolutely love this idea!!! So we made a table. I took the idea and came up with a slightly different plan. I wanted a larger table with larger “coolers” due to the gatherings we have weekly. I did find planter boxes that seemed much easier to work with and was happy with the results. The boxes are designed to fit over a railing. Instead of building a box to hold the planter boxes, I simply ran a 2′ x 6′ board down the center of the table underneath and it supports both boxes.
    I also had the hubby have steel legs built for me for added support. I only insisted that each one have a threaded rod at the bottom with a washer welded on to make each leg adjustable. Comes in handy for a patio that may not be perfectly level. (Much like the legs on a washing machine.)
    We’re so happy with the results and are looking forward to many evenings at this table. Thanks for a great idea!

    • You should be able to remove the planter box. The one we built; the planter box is removable and I think that is part of the design. Please see Sarah’s reply from 1/20/13.

  25. This table is amazing!! My Dad’s BFF is a carpenter and loves new challenges. I just want him there as a guide, because I want to make this

  26. Anyone make this table with a hole in the middle for an umbrella? Our deck has the sun on it all afternoon and was wondering if the middle board could have a hole cut out for an umbrella.

  27. Great table. I plan to make two for my back garden. I was wondering if anyone could tell me how much pre-cut lumber they bought in each size? Someone asked the question earlier and I couldn’t find a reply. I just don’t want to buy more (or less) than i need.

  28. My son Christian and I made one table but with only one cooler. He does not have much room in the patio of his apartment so he suggested we try half the table. It came out nice. Next project will be the full table for my house. We hit a bump when the tip of the Kreg jig broke, we continue using it until we finished drilling all the holes. Would like to send you pics but can’t find where to post them here. We bought everything at Home Depot, even the Kreg jig, I suggest you expend $99 and buy the brand name instead of the no name cheap brand.

  29. Nice Seth…can you post up what you did differently? I’m stuck right now with the freaking planter boxes…none at the home depots.

    • I think with mine i used just about a 1lb box of 2″ screws. If you do the instructions above i would just get one box of each.

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