Weekend Project
Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Cool change on the cards

By Justin Newcombe

1 comment

A cooler box is an essential for any household, and it's pretty easy to construct, says Justin Newcombe.

Making your own chilly bin is a relatively easy summer project. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Making your own chilly bin is a relatively easy summer project. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Making a cooler box for summer is a relatively easy project. The beauty of being able to construct your own chilly bin is that you can make it any size or shape you like, which is perfect for a car, boat or caravan with limited space or awkward compartments. There are loads of ways you can decorate it - much more dressed-up than a plastic one for outdoors when you have the gang around for a few cool ones this summer.

There are many names for the cooler box, including the esky or chilly bin, but the cooler box can also be used for keeping things warm. This is all possible through the use of polystyrene as an insulator. Polystyrene has extremely low thermal conductivity so will keep everything at a constant temperature, regardless of what is happening outside of the box. I've lined the interior of mine with an aluminium sleeve. I found the aluminium easy to fold and shape, however make sure your measurements are accurate because it's quite difficult to make corrections once the sheet is folded.

I wanted to make the interior waterproof so I used a waterproof sealant on the joins before I riveted the aluminium together.

Once the aluminium sleeve was formed I coated the outside of it with Bituproof Plus, and let it dry overnight before I inserted it into the box.

The light materials and simple construction can also be finished in a variety of ways. I've painted mine the colour of the moment, but you could enhance the timber and varnish yours instead, or go berserk with flags from your favourite teams.

Step 1

Measure and cut your exterior material to form a box that fits the space you need it for. I've used 4mm marine ply.

Step 2

Glue the interior framing to the ply which will strengthen the box once it is formed.

Step 3

Glue, tape and pin the box together. The pins and the tape will be removed once the glue is set. I used five-minute epoxy for this, which is strong and quick but can set before you are ready, so use slower-curing glue if you have the time.

Step 4

Remove masking tape and pins then finish the outside of the box by planning down any uneven edges and sanding to round of the corners.

Step 5

Cut the polystyrene sheet with a sharp knife. Fix the polystyrene to the inside of the box, using PVA or any other strong water-soluble glue.

Step 6

Measure the inside of the box then cut and fold the aluminium sheeting to form a sleeve that will fit snugly inside. Seal then rivet the joins, using a waterproof sealant (check with the staff at Bunnings). Coat the back of the sleeve with Bituproof Plus and allow to dry thoroughly.

Step 7

Insert the sleeve into the box. Finish the top with a section of 90 degree aluminium angle which will tuck under the top of the timber framing. Rivet the 90 degree angle into place.

Step 8

To make the lid, cut a polystyrene insert to fit the marine ply top. Glue to the top panel with a strong water-based glue. Form a piece of aluminium sheeting to go over the polystyrene and surround with 90 degree angle. Paint and attach lid fastenings.

- NZ Herald

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