13 DIY Cooler Table Plans to Build for Outdoor Beer, Drinks or Patio Picnic (Free)

Cooler Table Plans

If you’re reading this guide, there's a great chance you're looking to build a beer cooler table and need a good plan or to convert your old picnic table into an outdoor drinks serving station and need some quick and easy ideas. We have both!

Building a patio cooler table can be an easy woodworking DIY project for beginners. But you need a detailed building plan.

We've seen a lot of free cooler table plans on the internet. But most of them refer back to Ana White's original plan for a patio table with two plastic planters as beer coolers. And it's a great design, absolutely.

But, the issue is, different people prefer different table styles (not just that modern one), and so we wanted to present you with a selection of styles. Plus, we've found a few interesting ideas for making the drinks cooler.

That's why we created this guide.

We've gathered 13 of the best looking, large or small, but all of various styles cooler table plans so you can build one to match your home decor.


Building Considerations

A cooler table isn't just for beer or wine drinks, You can keep there soda for kids in the hot days or chilled coffee and juice for yourself. You can also store legos or other kids toys, and even your hobby tools and supplies, Finally, you can replace the ice box with a planter with real plants - flowers or kitchen spices.

Also, you want to make sure that your outdoor table withstands the elements and that your ice container doesn't crack.​

And, of course, we want to make sure that your building process is the most efficient.​

So for all the reasons above, it's important to talk about these few things below.

1. Wood sourcing

Have your lumber pre-cut at Home Depot in accordance with the plan of your choosing. You'll find cutting instructions / part dimensions with most plans in this guide.

If possible, choose wood that is suitable for outdoor applications - Cedar or Redwood. Your table will look great for years even without stain or paint.

Or go with the inexpensive pressure-treated pine. You would want to stain or paint it to make your table look pretty.

2. Plan the table design

Whether you choose to go with a large patio table plan or a small porch table plan, make sure to size it appropriately to have enough tabletop space around the cooler,

The drinks cooler doesn't have to be in the middle.

Too big or too deep cooler box may get on the way of your guests legs.

Please realize, you can adjust most if not all plans to your preferred dimensions. You can also combine ideas or elements from several plans into one favorite design.

You can use these plans to build a brand new cooler table from scratch or convert an existing picnic or outdoor table.​

Decide if your ice container to be built-in or removable. Removable one will be easier to drain from melted ice. It can also be replaced with a flower or succulent planter. Still, a built in cooler can be a much less expensive solution, which you'll see farther in this guide.

Removable covers for cooler boxes is a nice to have feature. You could gain more tabletop space. To have covers laid flash with the top surface, plan to position your coolers lower.

3. Water drainage

Ability to easily drain water (accumulated from melted ice or rain) out of the cooler is a nice-to-have feature. So consider making a few holes on the bottom of your ice container.

One plan, a picnic cooler table from Home Depot, even employs a pvc drainage fitting connected to a longer pipe.

Pro tip: consider using reusable ice cubes to avoid water drainage issues,

4. Ice cooler sourcing

Many plans utilize plastic garden planters as the ice coolers. This considered to be a clever and very obvious idea by many as they are cheap and sized just right. But just remember that if cheap planters are left filled with water, they can easily crack when the temperatures drop below freezing. So make sure that they are designed for all seasons.

For that reason, galvanized steel or other metal containers are a better choice. But can be costly.

That's how people came up with the idea of using the rain gutters for beer coolers. You can buy them by linear foot and real cheap. For inexpensive DIY plans, a rain gutter could be an excellent option, as many DIY-ers have suggested.

But it really cheapens the design.​ Still, for a picnic table it would work just fine.

5. Use the right tools

When constructing a tabletop, you often need to edge-join several wood boards together. One woodworking tool is widely used to enable such joints with ease. The Kreg Jig. If you're not familiar with it, then we suggest you watch these two videos to see how it works. We find it to be extremely useful in general for DIY projects:

And that's all you need to know. Now you're ready to build an outdoor cooler table.


FREE Cooler Table Plans

1. Patio Cooler Table with Two Ice Boxes

Patio table with two coolers

This is a patio cooler table with built-in ice boxes built by Heidi and her husband Brent of Kruse’s Workshop over a weekend. They named it The Patio Party Table. They wanted a more durable, solid design that will not be affected by weather cycles so they used Cedar for the four legs and Douglas Fir for the rest. The table plan was completed for around $150! For the two coolers they used 20" x 10" planter boxes from Home Depot but you can also get similar boxes on Amazon. This very detailed free plan also includes the building layouts for the two wooden benches;

Table Size

76 1/8" x 40 1/2" x 30" (H)

Cooler Size

20" x 10" (2)

Estimated Cost

$150

Difficulty


2. Rustic Outdoor Table with Built In Metal Drink Cooler

Rustic Outdoor Table with Built In Drink Cooler

If you like Pottery Barn style then you may chose to go with this free building plan for a Toscana style table with criss cross legs. It's a rustic outdoor design with a trough for the cooler. This DIY table plan was built from Pine and painted for just under $75 because the stainless steel trough was made by a friend for free. They estimated that it may cost up to $375 if a similar tray or trough is purchased. You can potentially find something else for a cooling tray instead - just use your creativity. Rain gutters maybe? Otherwise, we like this plan as you can fit a lot of beer or wine bottles in this table-length ice box.

As you can see on the photos, someone else inspired by this plan used it to build a longer cooler table.​ Looks great on the patio.

Table Size

70" x 38 1/2" x 30" (H)

Cooler Size

63" x 5 1/2"

Estimated Cost

$75 - $375

Difficulty


3. Free Plan for a Picnic Table with Built-In Cooler by Home Depot

Build Plan for a DIY Picnic Table with a Built-In Cooler

This is an excellent video-based DIY tutorial on how to build a 6-foot long picnic table with a built-in cooler and replaceable cover, straight from Home Depot. Each step comes with its own video. Plus all is described in text as well. And all specifications are given in detail. This DIY plan is considered an intermediate difficulty but we feel that it's great for beginners too.. It takes a day to build. It's a pre-cut first then assemble type of plan.

What's really cool about this plan is that the entire build is under your control. You make the cooler box yourself out of wood, seal it and attach it to the tabletop using angle iron brackets, also available form HD. An awesome idea for cold beverages. And you can even use it as a planter if you want to. The plan uses pressure-treated lumber for the legs, and common kiln-dried lumber for the rest.

Table Size

6' L x 5' W

Cooler Size

3' L x 6" W

Estimated Cost

$100 - $120 (based on qty of lumber/parts)

Difficulty


4. DIY Beer Cooler Table Plan

DIY Patio Table with Two Built-in Beer Coolers

This DIY plan is a variation of the #1 and is designed by Sarah Bowes-Pope using SolidWorks.. The result is a very professionally looking outdoor cooler table for 6-8 people to enjoy.  It uses two plastic weather-resistant TerrabBox planters for ice boxes that are somewhat more shallow than in #1. Plus it uses a slightly different method of encasing them. There are many detailed images and all costs and cuts and tools required are well documented. And, BTW, some readers suggested to use galvanized planters instead of plastic ones as they would last longer.

Table Size

about 6' long

Cooler Size

24" x 7" (2)

Estimated Cost

$140

Difficulty


5. Coffee Table with Cooler

Porch Coffee Table with Beer Cooler Box

For a coffee table sized outdoor plan, consider building this small but fabulous painted design. The free DIY plan is by Tara and Dip at Strawberry Jam House blog. This low cooler table design comes with a couple of cool features. For starters, we love the cabinet door handle cutely attached to the removable cover. Unusually, the ice box is actually insert-able, to be able to switch between plants and a drink cooler. Also, they decided to use reusable ice cubes to have less moisture. Finally, they were able to pre-cut some wood boards right in the Depot. This is a nice DIY project you could complete over one weekend.

Table Size

4' long

Cooler Size

~ 2' long

Estimated Cost

~ $100

Difficulty


For more related ideas, make sure to check out our guide to Outdoor Coolers.


6. Simple Drinks Cooler Table Plan by Lowe's

Patio Cooler Table Plan by Lowe's

It's a nice cooler table but it takes some guesswork to understand exactly what to do in each step because the plan is not well detailed with images. There is a video but it goes too fast making it harder to grasp the details. Still, the design is nice, a bit on a rustic side. The basic plan or a building process here is to build the tabletop, the main table frame and the cooler box casing each separately and then connect them with metal brackets. It's made from Spruce and stained for outdoor use.

Table Size

4' long

Cooler Size

3' long, 17" high

Estimated Cost

around $100 (guesstimate)

Difficulty


7. Pallet Table With Drink Cooler

Rustic Pallet Coffee Table With Drink Cooler

What a unique and creative cooler table plan! Designed by husband and wife team at Remodelaholic blog, this is a rustic wood coffee table with drink cooler made from pallets. This plan may look a bit tricky to start building ... but it becomes all quite clear once you watch the video and carefully read the step-by-step DIY guide.  If you got some unused pallets laying down in your backyard then building this cool table is a must and it'll be almost for free except for the cost of the planter box ($18). You'll need 3-5 pallets depending on the size you want to make. They chose to go with a 30-inch plastic flower box for cooler but you can decide on a different size. This plan is pretty flexible in terms of overall dimensions - just adjust it to your preferred tabletop size or to the size of your ice box.

Table Size

49 1/2" x 27 1/2" x 18" (H)

Cooler Size

30" x 8"

Estimated Cost

n/a  (should be very low)

Difficulty


8. Built-In Beverage Cooler Table Built from 2x2's

Outdoor Coffee Table with Beverage Cooler

Rachel at ShadesOfBlueInteriors blog has come up with a free plan for her unusual cooler table design that consists mainly of 2x2's and 1x2's. For an outdoor coffee table, it looks very high-end. It will look just as good on any patio or deck as it will inside, in a living room. The plastic planter insert is removable and can be either filled with ice for a beverage cooler or hold plants. There is a cover that sits flush with the tabletop. The top is Pine and legs are Cedar.

Table Size

4' x 2'

Cooler Size

3' x 8"

Estimated Cost

Under $100 (guesstimate)

Difficulty


9. Small Ice Bucket Cooler Table by Lowe's

Beverage Table by Lowe's

This small cooler table plan by Lowe's is designed around a round trash can serving as the ice bucket. The table is built from Cedar boards and treated (CDX) plywood and is stained. So it should be suitable for the outdoor use. You will need a jigsaw to cut out the round opening. Lowe's recommend to use the Behrens 6-gallon galvanized steel trash can but it has brackets for the handle ... so you may have to break them off before placing it into the opening or find a more suitable bucket. The free plan has all steps detailed in text and a good assembly diagram.

Table Size

42" x 24" x 14" (H)

Cooler Size

Dia. 13.5" x 12.8" H

Estimated Cost

$80 (guesstimate)

Difficulty


10. DIY Farm Table with Gutter Wine Cooler

DIY Farm Table with Rain Gutter as Wine Cooler

For the lovers of farm style furniture, this is a dream come true DIY plan for a farm table. This large cooler table design uses a piece of rain gutter to create a built-in wine / beer box. While you'll find their free building plan quite detailed, it doesn't make clear how to attach the piece of gutter. It appears that they may have purchased additional gutter hardware parts (such as end caps) to hold it in place.

One interesting detail about this project is the idea of using steel wool mixed with vinegar and coffee for stain. This is what gives this table such a dark weathered look.

Table Size

6' long

Cooler Size

2-3' long

Estimated Cost

n/a

Difficulty


11. Picnic Table with Gutter Cooler in Middle

Reclaimed Wood Flat-Pack Picnic Table With Planter/Ice Trough

Here's a very different plan for a cooler table - it's a flat-pack design. So basically, the table is made from several separate parts for easy assembly and disassembly. This allows to fit it in the back of a compact car. Even the legs are removable. A gutter is used for the cooler.

Table Size

n/a

Cooler Size

n/a

Estimated Cost

n/a

Difficulty


12. How to Build a Cooler Table from a Picnic Table Almost for Free

DIY Picnic Table Upgraded into a Tabletop Bar

What if you already have an outdoor table and just want to add a cooler to it. Here's a genius DIY idea - swap the middle board with a gutter to make it a cooler table. See this great tutorial for details, complete with all hardware links. Or, depending on how your picnic table is built, you may find this tutorial better.

Table Size

n/a

Cooler Size

length of table

Estimated Cost

under $20

Difficulty


13. How to Build a Luxury Outdoor Table with Cooler

Luxury outdoor cooler table idea

This last cooler table design didn't come with a building plan, unfortunately, but ... it presents several great ideas that we believe you must see. Here's what we've learned from this perfect example of how you could make an already cool and practical design into a luxury piece of outdoor furniture:

A. It's made from cedar (as shown above). Cedar offers beautiful grain patterns and color variations. Plus, cedar is one of the best woods for outdoor use.

B. It's designed such that cooler planters can rest directly on the horizontal beam underneath (see image above). This means you don't have to build holding boxes or casings around them.

C. For the tabletop, the wood boards were planned and then edge-glued together (not just screwed together).

D. The design is based on an 18th century French table.

E. The table was sanded down a lot and then given 9 (!) coats of spar urethane for the tabletop and about half that for the base.

Table Size

4' x 7'

Cooler Size

8" x 24" (2)

Estimated Cost

n/a

Difficulty


Image to Pin.

About Joe Hats 24 Articles
Joe Hats is the founder of FreshPatio.