How To Make A Cooler From Scratch: TOP Full Guide 2023

How To Make A Cooler From Scratch TOP Full Guide 2023

Whether you’re going away for the weekend and pitching a tent or relocating to a remote cabin, you’ll need a technique to keep your perishables cool.

You can always change to a raw food diet. However, I like my hamburgers. When you are attempting to keep beef, room temperature only is not likely to reduce it.

You will find a lot of great roto-molded coolers available on the market. You can even outfit your automobile with a 12V refrigerator. But if you are on a limited budget, these choices are only a bit out of reach. So, How To Make A Cooler From Scratch?

Project Objectives

I had a bit more in my cooler for your camper van project. The enclosure doubled as a kitchen. However, this leadership can be adapted to accommodate almost virtually any size or shape you prefer. My Most Important goals were:

  • The cooler has to be completely self-contained.
  • I wanted ice to continue at least four times.
  • There Has to Be a means for water to drain out.
  • The cooler must be discreet.

Everything You Will Need For The DIY Cooler

The materials set for this particular project are really easy. It is possible to get everything in the regional hardware store, or you may purchase it online. Should you order online, you will be a bit more limited concerning shape and size.

It may be much easier to find this material at a hardware shop for bigger boxes. The principal issue is substance size. Shipping a complete-size sheet of plywood isn’t cost-effective.

But if you assembled your box of smaller stuff, Amazon will flat-pack everything and send it to your door.

Here’s What I used:

  • Expanded Polystyrene Foam
  • Acrylic Plexiglass
  • Two ″x two″ furniture framing timber
  • One good side plywood
  • Finishing screws (leftovers from a different project)
  • Caulking
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How To Make A Cooler From Scratch

How To Make A Cooler From Scratch

Step 1: Consider First

We need the box to become insulation for a few reasons in terms of layout. To begin with, more insulation leads to a longer melt period on a particular mass of ice hockey. That is simple enough.

So long as there’s strong ice, the block’s temperature stays relatively constant.

Secondly, the larger the disparity between the thermal resistance of the box walls and the atmosphere indoors, the less of a temperature gradient exists between the ice cube and the walls of this cooler.

This enables me to avoid using shaped or spread (bulk crushed ice) charges.

I wanted it to match the passenger seat in my car. This restricted the measurements, so I needed to obtain a dimension that would work with various drink containers and ice containers.

I picked inner box dimensions of 7W x 10.6L x x 10H (inches). Various programs would require similar preparation.

I considered a couple of things for the insulating material: FIP polyurethane foam in a cardboard box, EPS (beaded polystyrene foam), and extruded polystyrene foam.

Considering that the initial two thoughts suck and that I had a sheet of 1.5″ inboards, I chose to use this, thus providing the box its foolish 3″ thick walls.

Step 2: Cutting Items, Building Things

Cutting Items, Building Things

I recommend utilizing 1-1/2″ extruded polystyrene. The extruded variety is better suited to this program than white-beaded EPS. EPS will absorb water from your cells more easily and is not as strong. Additional thicknesses of foam can also be readily available to create thinner or perhaps thicker boxes.

Each panel dimension was cut onto a radial arm saw, though you can certainly do so using a circular saw or a hot-wire cutter. I could have done better on some of the bits, but the greatest problem was not my dimensions.

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The sheet has been bowed, and the borders weren’t perpendicular but radials. Be certain that you receive a flat sheet, particularly if your foamboard is thinner.

The box is constructed using a foam adhesive, such as “Gorilla Glue” or comparable glues on the market. The benefit here is they have a great bond power, and they expand to fill any openings between the sheet borders.

My box meeting has been made hard with the bowed panels since they’d constantly leave gaps in their borders. That is what Happens is for, however.

The straps are necessary since the foam adhesive does not have an extremely high initial tack. If your panels are level, you could probably get them by using tape to hold them tight.

Step 3: Foil Facing

Foil Facing

Considering that the cooler will sit in the automobile being irradiated from the midday sunlight, it might be best to decrease the energy consumed by providing the cooler with a reflective coating.

The fastest and most affordable way to do so is by employing an aluminized Mylar sheet- AKA space blanket or emergency blanket. This only costs a few bucks and is roughly as effective as putting the cooler in the shade.

This might not seem like much, but it is a fantastic deal if you can not place it in color.

For durability, the aluminized confront ought to be placed toward the interior. You can determine this picture’s aluminum surface by rubbing it with your finger (the aluminum comes off) or having an ohmmeter.

The mylar is connected to the box utilizing spray glue. I used green tag 3M Spra-Ment, even though many compatible mats are available.

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Not all spray adhesives are secure on foam boards. Cover the box by simply tapping the sheet around the sides, leaving the surplus to shape flaps to cover the surface and underside.

If you’re able to wrap a gift, you can accomplish this. However, it is best to spray on the box (not the movie ) one facet at one time. The paste tackifier is fast, and also, you can not reposition the movie on tackified paste.

When the movie is set up, It may be a fantastic idea to use clear packing tape to eliminate all borders and fortify the corners.

Step 4: Results


After all is assembled, wrapped, recorded, etc. The box has been spelled out for some time (significant ), it is ready to use.

To base my expectations, I did a rough calculation between the wall depth, glowing area, thermal conductivity of the foam, and the mixing enthalpy of water.

The temperature in the automobile swings from 65dF through the nighttime to as large as 140dF. In the daytime, I discovered a mean of 100-105dF to be fair for its calculations.

The results suggested that the box ought to have the ability to maintain 2kg of ice for about 27-30+ hours. Increasing the box measurements independent of wall depth will lower this moment. Increasing wall thickness and the bulk of the ice fee increase at this moment.

After conducting the box at the car for a couple of weeks, I will say that the calculations are fairly precise. The ice cubes come from the refrigerator at 14dF.

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With 4kg of ice hockey, it can readily keep acceptable temperatures four times even if it is opened six times every day.

I rotate different sized ice cubes (frozen drink bottles and 1/2gal milk jugs) to adapt distinct container structures and expected durations. It may be a great idea to create your box to fit readily available rectangular ice cubes. Round ice cubes waste a great deal of room.

The coldest I have ever had the base of the box (coldest part) was approximately 19dF. The warmest I have ever had the surface of the box (warmest part) was approximately 42dF.

Such high temperatures are just attained when the box is in sunlight, the ice charge is increasing little, or so the lid was newly opened. It averages between 34-38dF the majority of the days.

How Does It Operate?

I have been using this cooler for about two weeks now, so far, I’m fairly impressed with the outcomes. When I fill it to the top with ice, it will be about half complete four times.

I’m fairly certain that I could make it a week and have a few ice remaining in the cooler. But, I’m eating from the thing daily. So I feel that is somewhat unrealistic.

Sure, technically, a 10-day cooler will probably have a few pieces of ice left inside after ten days. However, I can not do anything with a few pieces of ice. I want enough to pay for all of my meals. In my mind, anyone who constructed a similar system could be great so long as they purchased ice every five times.

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Problems with My Layout

With this project, I had been winging it. I am fairly content with the outcome.

To begin with, I wish I’d measured my cuts somewhat better. When I finished the cooler, my shirt did not sit flush. Because this is also a cooking surface, which has been a significant pain, I used a timber file to generate everything to repair this.

The next problem is the drain. I don’t have any space beneath the cooler to plumb a drain.

Also, my outside port is on the side of it. At the moment, I thought the easiest thing was to undergo the side.

But this usually means there is just a tiny layer of water at the bottom that’s too low to stream through the drain. Thus far, my only solution would be to wash it up with a rag once I alter the ice.

However, I’ll update this after finding a much better alternative. I’d urge that you drain directly out the floor for the time being.


FAQs about DIY Cooler


What Materials Are Needed To Make A Cooler From Scratch?

Materials needed for making a cooler from scratch include foam insulation, a plastic container, a ruler, a marker, a sharp knife, duct tape, and a lid.

How Do You Cut Foam Insulation For A Cooler?

Use the lid from the plastic container as a template to cut a piece of foam insulation to the same size and shape. Attach the foam insulation to the lid using glue or adhesive, and then cover it with duct tape to create a seal.

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How Do You Attach Foam Insulation To A Cooler?

Use foam insulation with a high R-value to ensure proper insulation for the cooler. Make sure to cover all surfaces of the container with insulation, including the sides, bottom, and lid.

How Do You Make A Lid For A Cooler?

Use the lid from the plastic container as a template to cut a piece of foam insulation to the same size and shape. Attach the foam insulation to the lid using glue or adhesive, and then cover it with duct tape to create a seal.

How Do You Ensure Proper Insulation For A Homemade Cooler?

Use foam insulation with a high R-value to ensure proper insulation for the cooler. Make sure to cover all surfaces of the container with insulation, including the sides, bottom, and lid.

How Do You Create A Drainage System For A Homemade Cooler?

Make a little opening in the container’s base, then insert a plastic or metal spigot. Attach a drain pipe or tube to the spigot after sealing it in place with adhesive or silicone.


Making a cooler from scratch can be a fun and rewarding project that allows you to create a custom cooler that meets your specific needs.

A properly insulated cooler may be made with the necessary supplies and used to store food and beverages at cool temperatures for extended periods of time.

By following the steps outlined in this list of related questions and answers, you can create a homemade cooler that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

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