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Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Jules IKEAHacker


The TARVA Ice Chest


Materials: TARVA 3-drawer chest

Description: Summer has arrived in Texas, which keeps you struggling to keep your drinks cool out on the balcony. The obvious solution is to get a plastic cooler, but that’s not half the fun as building your own custom ice chest!

The Tarva proved to be a good basis for construction, and I even kept the bottom drawer intact for storage.

Since I would be sawing up the top surface to create a hatch, I had to put some additional structural supports underneath it. This also served to attach the hinges for the top hatch. Instead of measuring out how deep the supporting floor had to go (keeping in mind the additional layer of insulation I was putting in) I put everything in upside down, making sure the top lid of the cooler (screwed into the hatch) would nicely fit into the main body, once everything would be assembled.

Additionally I built a drainage in the bottom of the cooler, so you don’t have to turn the entire chest upside down to let the melt water out.


At this time it was a good moment to try out the functional assets of the chest, to much content of my buddies. The test run proved successful (the beers were nice and cold), the drainage had some leakage issues. Good thing we tested it before sealing everything up!

Once the leakage issues had been solved (plumbers putty to the rescue!) I finalized all insulation front, back, and sides and glued the remaining two drawer fronts to close everything up.

I then applied some walnut stain on the bare pine wood. I made sure to quickly wiped it down before it dried, so to keep the overall look light, but enhancing the wood texture. Some layers of clear stain to make it weatherproof and a touch of spray paint layer and the chest was completed. (Inspired by this)

I’m ready for that Texas heat now, my beers will be ice cold all summer long!

~ Joey in Houston, Houston, Texas


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The Author

Jules IKEAHacker

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

4 Responses to The TARVA Ice Chest

  1. Sam says:

    This is such a neat idea. Do you more instruction on how to put this together? My other concern is when you glue the drawer covers to the base, what if you need to get to the cooler for some reason? I would love to make one of these for my new house. Could you provide more detailed instructions, with measurements. Thanks! Great job, looks awesome.

  2. Dan Wiener says:

    Do you have the measurements for the cuts?

    • Kristy says:

      Is there anyway to get the measurements or the how to directions. I would love for my husband to make us one for the patio.

  3. Chris says:

    This is absolutely awesome! I hate to just steal your idea, but I would love to build something like this for my Dad for Christmas. Was just wondering though… Do you have any idea what model Igloo cooler you used? I guess all I really need is the cooler’s dimensions. Thanks a lot, and again… Awesome job!

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