How to Turn an Old Broken Refrigerator into an Awesome Rustic Cooler


An old fridge is not always a piece of junk, as it is a great base for a set of DIY projects. So to turn your new fridge into a new item, you can try this really cool project which is a rustic outdoor cooler. To make the rustic look, you can use pallets which are very cheap and can also be recycled if you know where to find them. So this practically is the most inexpensive outdoor cooler project ever. You don’t even need special skills or tools to build the pallet case and you can use this cooler to chill your food at summer barbecues. The list of materials and tools to make the upcycled cooler, can be found on the link below and you can also learn more about how to keep the cooler clean and spotless.



Step 1: Tools and Materials

Fridge-Cooler-3 -Old Refrigerator

– Make sure the Freon has been properly removed, more info on this in step 4.

-Pallets – You’ll need about 4 pallets to get enough wood for this project.


– 1 1/4″ wood screws work well for this project -Caulking

-Liquid Nails

-Casters – To make it move.

-2″ X 4″s – For framing in the bottom of the fridge and to build the base the cooler sits on.

-Misc PVC/Brass Fittings – Used to construct a drain at the bottom of the cooler for easy draining after use.

-Rope and Eye Bolts – To keep the cooler lids from opening too far.

-Black Spray Paint



Chop Saw

Circular Saw


Caulking Gun – For plugging holes in the refrigerator to make it waterproof and for applying liquid nails.

Pry-Bars and Hammers

10 Responses to “How to Turn an Old Broken Refrigerator into an Awesome Rustic Cooler”

  1. fred says:

    the compressor of your refrigerator is not design to work on the side! the oil wont came back and this nice idea will only work for a couple of week till it blow off

    • Really! says:

      Fred…’s not going to be plugged in and used as a “frig”. All of the mechanics are removed. It’s a COOLER you put ice in then drain when melted.

    • Justan Jenkins says:

      i suppose that would be why we are using a BROKEN refrigerator.. and removing all the electronic parts.. and using it as a ICE chilled cooler… instead

    • PK says:

      Uh – the compressor was totally removed, the coolant drained and all mechanical parts disassembled prior to re-working as shown. It was a NON-WORKING fridge – and instead of being tossed into landfill, it has been up-cycled into something incredibly useful and beautiful.

    • Doug says:

      Damn you fred! Why didn’t we think of that? Why couldn’t you tell me this BEFORE I laid my kitchen refrigerator on it’s side, and started sanding and painting it?!?

    • Kira says:

      Article title… “How to turn and old BROKEN refrigerator into an awesome rustic COOLER…”

  2. Susan says:

    We have a lot of outdoor cushions and need a place to keep them out of the elements. This would be great outside water resistant storage.

  3. Nick Hellums says:

    That’s why they disassembled it.

  4. Linda Neely says:

    I like the storage idea too. I guess you could do that when you are not using it as a cooler. Great idea Susan!

  5. Julie Mast says:

    Thank you so much for this awesome tutorial and idea!
    Our back fridge just died on us so I am going to start on this project this week just in time for Memorial Day Weekend and other upcoming Summer events.

    Quick question – Do you keep this under roof when its not being used? I didn’t know if weather-proofing the wood would be a good idea.. Has anyone done this? If so, what product did you use?


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