Some of the best memories of summer are those of lazy evenings spent with friends and family, enjoying a meal with good company and good food in beautiful weather. Get your backyard ready for entertaining with a few projects, and yours will be the house that everyone loves to come to! Our guest today has an awesome patio table building plan for you. And it has a secret that your guests will love: built-in ice boxes, perfect for keeping your drinks cool!
an outdoor baby gate to keep the little ones safe,
Here’s our fabulous guest Heidi with a great detailed tutorial to show you how to build the patio table! Give her a warm Remodelaholic welcome!
Patio Table with Built-In Ice Boxes
by Heidi of Kruse’s Workshop
Howdy from South Dakota! I’m Heidi, and along with my trusty husband, Brent, we’ve been busy remodeling and building everything from picture frames to doll houses in our upcycled garage aptly nicknamed, Kruse’s Workshop. Today, we are excited to share our detailed plans outlining our process for building an ice chest patio table, which we fondly refer to as “The Patio Party Table.” With a few tools and plenty of patience, this project can be completed in a weekend, for as little as $150!
There are several plans circulating on Pinterest, but we felt we could improve the design to create a more durable, solid product that could withstand our brutal weather cycles. For this reason, we do not recommend cutting your lumber to length in advance. We feel it’s best to make the cuts as you work through the plans, which will give you the freedom to make small adjustments as needed.
Depending on the type of wood species used, materials will run anywhere from $150 – $350. Cedar, a wonderful choice for outdoor furniture, will cost significantly more than Douglas fir, which is what we’ve chosen for the table you are about to see. The Home Depot in our region carries Douglas fir, but only in the 2×8 and 2×6 material, so for the 4×4 legs we used Cedar. No matter what type of wood you choose, several coats of a quality sealer are crucial to protecting the table, not only from Mother Nature but also from our children, who are bound to spill dinner and dessert on it.
If you like the benches we built to accompany the table, pop over to our blog, Kruse’s Workshop, for additional instructions on how to build them.
Want to see the dimensions and instructions sketched out? Your wish is our command! See the plans that Hertoolbelt created for this table here.
This post contains affiliate links. See our full disclosure policy here.
- 5 – 2×8 8′ length (table top)
- 2 – 2×6 8′ length (ice box lids)
- 5 – 2×4 8′ length (framing/skirting)
- 2 – 4×4 8′ length (table legs)
- 3 – 1×4 8′ length (ice box supports)
- 2 – plastic planter boxes – see photo below
- 2 1/2″ Kreg pocket screws
- 1 1/2″ Kreg pocket screws
- 1 3/4″ Deck screws
- 8 – 5/16″ x 3″ bolts
- 8 – 5/16″ washers
- 8 – 5/16″ wood anchors
- 120 grit sandpaper
- 80 grit sandpaper
- Pre-conditioner, stain, exterior spar varnish, foam brushes, fine sanding block
The table design is centered around these specific planter boxes, available in the outdoor/plant department at Home Depot or on their website. At 20″ x 10″, they are the perfect size to hold plenty of summer time drinks while clocking in at less than $10 each! It wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up a few spares, in case you need a replacement down the road.
UPDATE: If you can’t find these boxes or don’t have a Home Depot nearby, you can pick up similar inexpensive planters here or here on Amazon — you’ll just need to plan ahead and adjust the holes and supports to fit the slightly different length and width, so be sure to check out the sketched out plans here to help. And scroll down to see how one clever reader fitted the table to hold chafing dishes for serving food, too!
- Measuring tape
- Table saw (optional but very helpful)
- Miter saw or circular saw
- Orbital sander
- Kreg Jig
- 2 1/8″ hole saw
Step #1: Build Ice Box Supports
Dry fit them together to ensure all your corners are flush.
Secure each corner with 2 deck screws.
Repeat until you have two completed supports.
Verify that it supports the ice box. After checking that the size is correct, sand all of the edges, rough corners and sides. It will be much easier if you sand the individual parts before the table is assembled. Most of the sanding can be done with an orbital sander loaded with 120 grit sand paper. Rough spots may need 80 grit sandpaper.
Step #2: Build Interior Ice Box Frames
Now we need to build a frame that will hold the ice box supports and act as extra bracing for the table top. Build two of these, one for each ice box. Using your 2×4 material, cut 4 pieces at 20 3/4″ and 4 pieces at 34 1/4″. Dry fit the frames to make sure everything is square and cut to the appropriate length.
Set the drill depth to the thickness of your board, so in our case we are using 2×4’s, which are actually 1 1/2″ thick. You can see how we have our drill depth set at 1 1/2″ here. For detailed instructions on how to properly set up your Kreg Jig – follow this link.
Lay out your boards according to the photo below. The holes should be to the outside, this will make it easier to drive the screws in without the framing getting in the way.
Measure each side to make sure they are identical. Our was 10 1/2″ on each side.
When you have everything centered, you can run the screws into the pocket holes. Continue this process until you have built two identical frames.
When your frame is built, wiggle the ice box support out of the middle, you may need to loosen a few screws to set it free. Sand all of the pieces with an orbital sander.
After the frames are built, it’s time to attach the ice box support (the small box) to the ice box frame (the large one). This is an important step, as it will allow the lid that will eventually cover the ice box to sit flush with the rest of the table.
Set your ice box upside down inside the frame.
Put the ice box support on top and work it down into the frame.
If you’ll be staining your table, put a coat of stain on both of these frames now. It will be much easier at this point rather that after the entire table is assembled.
Step #3: Build the Table Top
Using the 2×8 material, cut two lengths at 61 5/8″ and 2 more at 26″. Lay them out like the photo below and determine which side of each board will be the top, dependent on which side of the board is nicer. Lay each board with the top facing down and label the side facing up as “bottom”.
Put three Kreg jig holes in each end of each board, on the bottom side that you labeled.
Take one end board and one side board and lay them on your work surface, bottoms up.
Allow the shorter board to overhand the longer one by 1/8 of an inch. This will create a 1/8″ gap between the long boards spanning the length of the table to allow the wood to expand and contract with the humidity levels.
Place a clamp like this over your first hole to hold the boards level with one another. Drive your Kreg screw into place. Keep moving your clamp with each screw that you put in to ensure the pieces remain flush with one another.
You will end up with the interior frame. Sand this section with your orbital sander, paying special attention to the outside and inside edges, as well as the sharp edges.
Stain the inner and outside edges. Once the top is built, it would be very difficult to get stain down into those 1/8″ gaps.
Cut a small piece of 2×8 to act as a support in the middle of the table. Ours was 11 5/16″, it should fit very snug. Drill 3 holes on each end with the Kreg, center it in the middle of the table, clamp and screw.
Step 4: Add Skirting to the Ice Box Frames
The skirts will anchor the ice box frames to the underside of the table. Using the 2×4 material, cut two pieces at 66 3/4″. Space your two ice box supports 6 inches apart. Center your 2×4’s cut at 66 3/4″ on each side and clamp in place. Mark with a pencil the location of 7 pocket screws, these screws are what will attach the flower box support structure to the actual table.
Since the entire under body is built, it’s a great time to lay your table top above it to see that everything is lining up. Your goal here is that the inside boxes will have enough lip around them to support the lid of the ice box.
To cover the last gaps in the table top, we will cut two more pieces.
Cut a piece of 2×6 at 11 5/16″ (measure your opening width first though to make sure you are going to get a very snug fit). Then, using a table saw, rip the piece down so it is only 4 3/4″ wide.
Drill your pocket screws with the Kreg and attach at either end.
Step 5: Attach the Ice Box Frame to the Table Top
With the top fully constructed, we can attach the ice box frame to the table top. It’s best to use 1 1/2″ pocket screws for this step.
Center the frame on the table and attach with the pocket holes you drilled in the 66 3/4″ 2×4’s.
For the two pieces of skirting at the far ends of each side of the table, cut 2 pieces of 2×4 at 31″ and drill 5 pocket holes in it. It may be helpful to cut a few small chunks of 4×4 to use in the corner as a template for your leg…this will help you get an accurate length for the skirting at either end. Center the piece and attach 1 1/2″ off the edge of the table.
Step 6: Attach the Legs
Using a 7/16″ drill bit, drill the holes about 1 1/2″ deep.
Step 7: Build the Ice Box Lids
Cut 2 pieces of 2×6 at 24″ and 1 piece of 1×4 at 16″. Stain the inside edges.
Lay out your 1×4 3 1/8″ from one end and attach with 6 deck screws.
Center a 2 1/8″ hole saw at 22 1/4″, cut a hole all the way through the lid.
After the hole has been cut through the lid, make a cut at 22 1/4″ to remove the excess from the lid, which will leave you with a half circle that acts as a finger lift.
Step 8: Apply Finish Coats to the Table
About 15 minutes after I applied the wood conditioner and wiped off any excess, I applied a coat of basic interior oil based wood stain with a foam brush.
After the stain was dry, I applied three coats of this water based spar urethane, sanding VERY LIGHTLY with a fine sanding sponge in between coats.
Ready to build it? Click here to get a free printable version of this building plan
Visit Kruse’s Workshop for detailed plans to build matching benches for the table.
Wow, Heidi! Such a genius idea. Can I come over? 🙂
Remodelaholics, head over to Kruse’s Workshop to see more of what Heidi and Brent have been DIYing in their home — you’ll love their industrial iron pipe photo display, and just look at all the details in the Barbie house they built!
——————– Update 11/16/15 ——————–
Michael, one of our readers, sent these pictures of the patio table he built using Kruse’s plans. Wow!
Michael writes: “This was my first-ever wood working project. I started with the benches and then moved on to the table. The benches worked great.
I’m glad you mentioned not cutting everything for the table ahead of time. There were a lot of pieces that needed specific measuring towards the end (ice box lids).
I used pressure treated pine. It made the table insanely heavy but will hopefully be good for a long time. Because of the weight of the table, I added heavy-duty locking caster’s to the bottom. This allows me to move it without getting the neighbors.
I had a little bending in the long boards on the top. I added pocket screws going from the ice box frames across to the outside skirting and it pulled everything into alignment. Also, with the weight, I figured adding some screws would help over time.”
What a beautiful project! Thanks for sharing, Michael!
——————– Update 06/29/16——————–
Our reader Doug was inspired by the patio table tutorial from Kruse’s Workshop and he swapped the ice boxes for steam trays!
Here’s what Doug had to say about the project — great job!!
“I was looking for a project I could build to donate to an auction being held by the PTO of my daughter’s elementary school. I decided on this table, but instead of using the planter boxes as ice chests, I made the holes in the table the same size as the opening for steam table trays. The trays come in about 24 different sizes, and they come in stainless steel as well as two types of plastic. They also come with lids and tons of accessories. Beware though, the trays can get expensive if you’re not careful.
In addition to the rectangular trays, they have adaptors so you can drop in different sizes of round buckets. The buckets are great for soups, sauces, chili, and the like, but they are also good for filling with ice and holding a few bottles of wine or a 12-pack of beer.
I’m currently in the process of using some parts from an old gas bbq grill to create a small fire pit for the table. I am using one of the full size trays and putting the burner tube inside, covered with either broken glass or lava rocks. a small propane bottle will screw into the bottom of the tray and hang securely from the try while in use. I’m not sure how that is going to work out yet, but I think it will be really neat. The kids could roast hot dogs and marshmallows right in the center of the table.”
So very cool! What a great project, and to donate, nonetheless! A great project for a great cause. Thanks, Doug!
The reader photos keep coming!
Thanks to Allan for these photos and his comments:
“Everything was according to the plans, except I made my table from cedar. The flower boxes I used were slightly more narrow and longer than the ones in the plans, so my table ended up being about a foot longer, all told. It’s the envy of our neighbourhood and a welcome place to sit down after a long day at work.”
Another beautiful summer evening just got a little better! Thanks for sharing!
Marielle shared with us her “cool” table, as she called it. 🙂 She writes that they used one large board for the table top and cut out a perfectly-sized section to fit the serving tray so that it hangs by the 4 edges. And see the unique legs? Brilliant! Thank you for the photo!
—————- Update 1/26/18 —————-
Over at Adventure in DIY, find a similar picnic table finished in a beautiful color!
If you’ve built anything following our plans or inspired by something we’ve posted, we’d love to see!
Submit a brag post here.