D.I.Y. outdoor table with built-in drinks cooler

Gary, Team member
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D.I.Y. outdoor table with built-in drinks cooler

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Project Overview

If you’ve got an outdoor entertaining area, the right furniture can become the focal point for all your get-togethers. This merbau table with a built-in drinks cooler not only looks fantastic, it will even save you from leaving the table to grab a drink.

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How to prevent your sandpaper from sliding

Just by folding your sandpaper into thirds, it will hold together much better than folding it in half. The paper will be steady in your hands, which helps make the job much quicker. Plus, you get more use out of the whole surface of the paper.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Have your timber pre-cut at Bunnings
2 Cut the rebates for the frame
3 Cut one end of a frame to 45°
4 Measure, mark and cut the mitre
5 Drill drainage holes
6 Pre-drill holes into the frame
7 Join the frame
8 Staple the frame
9 Pre-drill holes for the decking
10 Place decking in the frame
11 Secure the decking
12 Measure and mark bracing
13 Pre-drill holes and secure supports in place
14 Measure, mark and cut the support frame
15 Assemble the support frame
16 Pre-drill holes and secure pine supports
17 Pre-drill for the legs
18 Attach the legs
19 Cut the pine for the braces
20 Pre-drill holes and secure the braces
21 Centre the frame
22 Attach the frame to the tabletop
23 Mark the hole for the drinks cooler
24 Attach a timber offcut
25 Cut out the hole
26 Sand the hole and table
27 Attach butterfly cleats
28 The finishing touch
  • Step 1. Have your timber pre-cut at Bunnings

    To make building your table even easier, have your timber pre-cut at your local Bunnings.

    Our cutting list for this project is as follows:

    Tabletop frame

    45mm x 90mm x 2100mm merbau x 2

    45mm x 90mm x 840mm merbau x 2


    Table frame (rebate depth)

    70mm x 19mm x 740mm merbau x 2

    70mm x 19mm x 2000mm merbau x 2



    140mm x 19mm x 1990mm merbau x 5



    70mm x 19mm x 660mm merbau x 5


    Treated pine tabletop supports

    70mm x 35mm x 700mm treated pine x 4



    88mm x 88mm x 735mm merbau x 4

  • Step 2. Cut the rebates for the frame

    Clamp your first piece of timber for the frame to the workbench. Set the guide on the circular saw to the depth you want. Our rebates were 35mm wide and 19mm deep. Cut one rebate, then turn the timber over to cut the other. Repeat this step for all four pieces of the frame.

  • Step 3. Cut one end of a frame to 45°

    Take one of the longer pieces of timber for the frame and use the mitre saw to cut it at a 45° angle. Repeat this for the other pieces of timber in the frame.

  • Step 4. Measure, mark and cut the mitre

    Measure and mark from the longest point on the mitre cut to the length you want the frame to be. Use the circular saw to cut the other ends of the frame to 45°. Sand the edges to make them smooth.

  • Step 5. Drill drainage holes

    Because the table will be sitting outside in the rain use a 5mm drill bit to drill six drainage holes in the rebate of each of the long sides of the frame and three along the shorter ends.

  • Step 6. Pre-drill holes into the frame

    Clamp the four sides of the outer frame to the workbench so that their edges are flush. Use a 3mm drill bit to drill a hole right through the corners of the frame. Then re-drill the hole, using a 6mm bit as a countersink to hide the screws.

  • Step 7. Join the frame

    Apply glue to each joint, but not too much, you don’t want it to stain the timber. Join the frame together, then reinforce using use the drill and 65mm screws.

  • Step 8. Staple the frame

    Flip the frame over and staple where the rebate joints meet. We used 0.5 inch staples. Also use staples to join the 45° mitre joints underneath the frame making sure they won’t be visible.

  • Step 9. Pre-drill holes for the decking

    Measure the positioning of the planks, then use the 5mm drill bit to pre-drill the holes that will secure them. Pre-drilling ensures the screws will be easier to insert and will help identify where they need to go.

  • Step 10. Place decking in the frame

    Place the merbau decking into the frame. Use a 3mm packer between each plank to make sure they’re evenly spaced.

  • Step 11. Secure the decking

    Use three 40mm screws to secure each plank of the decking from underneath. Once each piece of decking is secure, turn the tabletop over and insert the rest of the screws.

  • Step 12. Measure and mark bracing

    Measure and mark where the five brace supports will go underneath the tabletop. Remember to leave enough space for your drinks cooler. Ours will be positioned at one end of the table, but place yours wherever you like.

  • Step 13. Pre-drill holes and secure supports in place

    Use the 3mm drill bit to pre-drill at least three holes, at the ends and in the middle of the five supports. Then use 40mm screws to attach the brace supports under the table. These will stop the timber from cupping in the winter.

  • Step 14. Measure, mark and cut the support frame

    Measure and mark the support frame for under the table. Make sure you measure from the longest point of the mitre cut. Our frame measured 740mm x 2000mm. Set the circular saw to 45°. Cut the ends of the support frame to length.

  • Step 15. Assemble the support frame

    Lay-out the support frame in its rectangular shape. Place the pieces of treated pine across the frame for support. Make sure the edges of the support frame are flush, then use a drill to screw the frame together.

  • Step 16. Pre-drill holes and secure pine supports

    Use the 3mm drill bit to drill holes through the merbau frame and into the pine supports. Repeat this for each end of the pine. Use 50mm timber decking screws to attach the pine supports to the frame, making sure that the corners are flush.

  • Step 17. Pre-drill for the legs

    Place one leg in each corner. Use the 3mm drill bit and then the 4mm drill bit to drill holes through the support frame and into the leg. Repeat this for the three other legs.

  • Step 18. Attach the legs

    Drill the 50mm timber decking screws into the legs via the outside of the support frame.

  • Step 19. Cut the pine for the braces

    Set the circular saw to cut the four pine braces at a 45° angle.

    Measure and cut a 330mm long brace at a 45° angle. Repeat this step for the three other braces.

  • Step 20. Pre-drill holes and secure the braces

    Place a pine brace as close as possible to the leg of the table. Use the 4mm drill bit and then 6mm drill bit to pre-drill two holes at both ends of the brace. The holes need to go through the pine and into the support frame. Repeat this for the three other braces then drill 75mm batten screws to secure each to the support frame.

  • Step 21. Centre the frame

    Place the frame onto the underside of the tabletop. Make sure it’s centred and the overhang is even on all sides.

  • Step 22. Attach the frame to the tabletop

    To attach the frame to the tabletop, screw the L-shaped angle brackets into place. The screws for this come in the same packet as the brackets. Use two brackets between the treated pine braces and at least two at each end.

  • Step 23. Mark the hole for the drinks cooler

    Place the drinks cooler upside down on the table where you want to it go. Make sure it’s not above any of the supports underneath the table. Use a pencil to draw around the bucket. Mark 15mm inside the shape you’ve drawn and replicate the shape of the cooler bucket. This will stop the bucket falling through your table.
  • Step 24. Attach a timber offcut

    Turn the table over. Place a timber offcut directly below where you will be cutting out the hole for the drinks cooler. Attach it with the drill and 40mm screws. This will hold the boards together when they are being cut out for the bucket.

  • Step 25. Cut out the hole

    Use a jigsaw to cut the hole around the pencil line. Keep the timber you cut out, it can be used as a cover when your drinks cooler is not in use and you want a complete table.

  • Step 26. Sand the hole and table

    Use 120 grit sandpaper to sand the edges of both the hole in the table and the timber you’ve just cut out.  You can hand sand or use the orbital sander to do this job.

  • Step 27. Attach butterfly cleats

    If you want to be able to remove the drinks cooler and make the table complete, attach at least four butterfly cleats under the table on the long side of the hole.

  • Step 28. The finishing touch

    All you need now is a bag of ice, some good company and your favourite drinks.

Tools and Materials


  • Bucket
  • Circular saw with long straight edge cutting guide
  • Cordless drill
  • 5mm drill bit
  • 3mm drill bit
  • Drop saw
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw
  • Measuring tape
  • Orbital sander
  • Pencil
  • Putty knife
  • Quick clamps
  • Square drill bit to fit 50mm stainless steel screws
  • Utility knife


  • 75mm batten screws
  • 65mm timber screws
  • 50mm decking screws
  • 40mm chipboard screws
  • 50mm stainless steel square drive screws with colour dipped ends
  • 20mm x 20mm L-shaped bracket
  • Butterfly cleats and screws
  • Putty
  • PVA glue
  • 120 grit and finer sandpaper
  • 120 grit and finer sandpaper pads
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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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