If you want to know how to make a cool box, you have come to the right place. Making a homemade cool box is easier than you think. It certainly does require some work on your part, but as long as you follow the steps listed below, you shouldn’t have a real problem.
You will also need a few items to make a cool box, but the best part about the methods below is that all materials required are cheap to purchase. So, your DIY cooler box won’t turn out to be too expensive – and who doesn’t want to save money?
The key point with this DIY project is to make sure you have the correct insulating material. This step applies no matter if you plan on using a cardboard box, plastic box, or wooden box for your core.
It’s the material you use for insulation that makes the difference. Better insulation will find it easier to keep the cool air trapped inside the box, so your own cooler will certainly be capable of keeping things cold for longer than you imagine.
But here is where we plan on being different. We could simply give you a list of materials and tools you need, but what if we provide you with more than one way to make your own ice chest? Read on; you can choose which one appeals more to you.
Method 1: The Simple Cool Box
First, let’s give you an effortless way to create a basic ice chest. Now, this may not be the best cooler out there, but if you need something on a temporary basis, then it could be the perfect solution.
An ice chest does not have to be a big, complicated item. As long as it can hold ice and keep drinks and food cool for a reasonable period of time, then you have an actual ice chest.
So, how do you make this particular version?
What You Need
In this case, all you need is a cardboard box of the size that you want your cooler to be. And it would be best if the cardboard box had a lid on it. If you cannot get one, then a plastic container will also work well, but it still requires a lid.
Aside from the box, you also need a hot glue gun (craft glue can also work) and some foil. Also, some bubble wrap is required.
What You Need to Do
Wrap the Outside
First things first: wrap the outside of the box in the foil, and then use the craft glue to stick it down into place. Make sure the shiny side of the foil is facing out.
Line the Inside
Once you have completed this step, line the inside of the box with foil. This is required if you use a cardboard box. Try to use only one complete sheet of foil, and be careful as you press it into the box’s corners.
After that, take the bubble wrap, and cover the inside of the box. This wrap works as the insulation layer.
Once that is done, all you need to do is place an ice pack in the base and close the lid. It should manage to keep drinks nice and cool for several hours until you need to replace the pack.
Method 2: Creating a Bigger Ice Box
If you want something slightly bigger, then you just need to make a couple of changes to your approach regarding your homemade cooler.
What You Need
A cardboard box works just fine for this project; you’ll also need some duct tape and a bin bag. Alternatively, you can use an old shower curtain, or even a plastic table cloth, if you have one spare. The key is to have something to use as a liner.
Also, you will need some foam to act as the insulation for your cooler. Plus, foam is still relatively inexpensive to purchase. You will then need a knife to cut the foam into panels, and a measuring tape will make life easier.
What to Do
Prepping the Liner
Take whatever you plan on using for the liner, and put it inside the box. Cover the entire interior of the box and duct tape the liner to the top. That should ensure the liner does not then move.
But here is a good tip. Make sure there is some movement in the bottom corners of the box. You increase the liner ripping chances if you try to make things too tight.
The key here is for the liner to act as a waterproof layer to protect the cardboard. That is why you need it to not rip. For this reason, you may be better off using a shower curtain as a liner, as it tends to be stronger than a bin liner.
Plus, we suggest you use a lot of duct tape. It keeps the liner in place on your cooler, and you don’t want it to move around when in use. At that point, you could rip your cooler liner, and then all those drinks and food won’t stay fresh anymore.
Adding the Foam
Take your measuring tape, and measure all of the sides, and bottom, of the box. Make a note of the measurements, and we have a tip to make life easier.
Make sure the one-inch thick foam for the bottom piece is the same size as the bottom of the box. However, make the foam panels for the sides about two inches shorter than the bottom panel.
Once cut to size, glue the foam panels onto the inner space of the box. You should now have a one-inch margin at the top of the box, and that is why you need those foam panels to be shorter by two inches.
But that’s not all.
Making an Inner Box
You then need to cut additional foam panels to create an inner box. Here, you need to make two of the foam panels about four inches shorter in width than the actual sides. Then, make sure the other two are approximately six inches narrower. All four panels must be one inch shorter.
Now, you need to glue the foam pieces together to make the box. Make sure you glue them so the different size pieces of foam face one another. After that, glue the box to the inside of your cooler. This box is where you will keep your drinks.
Adding More Insulation
You will now see a gap between the outer and inner box. You need to fill that space with some spray foam, and it will only take minutes. However, if you do not have this, styrofoam will also work. However, the foam option does provide better insulation.
But there’s one area to look at, and that’s the top of the box. No cooler will work well if the lid is not insulated.
Making the Lid
To make the lid, you need to get some more foam. Remember we had you leave a gap of one inch at the top of the box? Well, this is where you will complete your ice chest.
Cut strips of foam one inch thick and to the length of the sides of the box. You want to glue them together to make what resembles a picture frame. You need to glue this to the top of the side panels of foam you have already installed.
This procedure should then create a ledge, and that is where you will place the lid of your cooler. For this, you want to measure the size of the box and make sure you go to the edges. You need the lid to completely cover the top of the cooler, or your ice chest will not work.
Build the Handle
The final step is to put some sort of handle on your cooler lid. It just makes it easier to lift the foam lid off and get to the inside. Then, add your ice, drop in those drinks or food, and close the lid.
Tips for Making Your Cooler
Both options above can be an easy project for anyone to complete, but we want to make it as easy as possible, so here are a few tips.
Tip 1: Plastic Is Your Friend
Plastic is waterproof, and it does make life easier. Consider trying to use a plastic box, if possible, or using thicker plastic as a liner. It will hold the cold in better than anything else.
Tip 2: Go Heavy on the Glue
When you need to glue two pieces together, really use as much glue as possible. You want the long sides to be unable to come apart. This just helps keep the cooler together, and it will certainly stop your drinks from warming up.
Tip 3: Be Careful With the Corners
Don’t stress about getting the liner into the exact corner of the box. Instead, focus more on covering each panel completely rather than making it as neat as possible. You do not want pressure on the corners, or it will rip because it is a weak point.
Tip 4: Measure and Then Measure Again
You need to make sure you have the correct measurements when making your container. That means checking everything over and over before you cut your materials. For example, you may think that cutting a panel two inches shorter would make no difference. However, if you didn’t do it, the container would stand out above the top of the box. At that point, the panel ruins everything.
So, please double-check everything before you glue stuff together. It makes a huge difference.
Make Your Own Cool Box
And that is how to make a cool box. As you see, it’s not too difficult to build something that will keep things cool. All it takes is some patience and to make sure you measure everything perfect to have something that eventually works.
Feel free to make it to whatever size you want. It’s entirely up to you as to what you will create when it comes to the size of your DIY cool box, depending on how much space you will need to keep all your drinks fresh for your next camping trip!
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Tom is a former chef turned full-time food blogger. He has always been passionate about food, and loves nothing more than experimenting in the kitchen and sharing his recipes with others. Tom’s blog is one of the most popular food blogs on the internet, and he has won numerous awards for his cooking. When he’s not blogging or cooking, Tom enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.