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For years now, I’ve been dreaming of using my back yard for lots of outdoor entertaining. While some plans might take a little longer to come to fruition, in this case, all it took was a little challenge and voilà: a DIY outdoor drink station made for a crowd.
Prepare for photo overload, folks: this project took a little scheming!
This post is sponsored by Krazy Glue. All opinions are — for better or worse — 100% my own.
First things first: this project was sponsored by Krazy Glue. I say that not because (well, not only because) I’m legally required to disclose that fact by the FTC, but also it’s precisely because of them that this project came together the way it did. They emailed me a few months ago and basically hinted that I might just be
crazy enough undeterred enough to take on their challenge: to try to put together something large, heavy, and using only Krazy Glue to do it.
And of course I did. Krazy Glue says that their ultra-fast drying adhesive can hold up to 2,000 pounds and I’ve only ever really seen people us it for crafts and repairs — so of course I’m the person that wants to test out their claims. And then I might accidentally glue my fingers together a few times, but something cool like this happens:
I know, right? Don’t worry; I didn’t glue myself to my project (um… except maybe get a little in my hair).
Now, I should add that as far as woodworking goes, I consider myself really only at a beginner’s skill level (DIY home renovation has taught me plenty of things, but making a piece of furniture seems to exhaust a different part of my brain… the part that gets cross-eyed when discussing structural engineering). I own a few basic tools like a miter saw and drill, and because of things like pocket holes, I haven’t really forced myself to learn much beyond that. But because Krazy Glue wanted me to really test out the performance of their product, I wasn’t going to rely on any of those familiar tricks.
While that may sound at first like a complaint, it actually led me down the mind-melting rabbit hole that is woodworking joinery. I tried a few new types of joints and learned a little more vocabulary (and at times, used some of the ol’ standbys when I got frustrated at myself). I kind of want to hug Krazy Glue for forcing me to challenge my typical thought process on something like this; it turned out to be so much better than I thought!
DIY Outdoor Drink Station
Ok, so let’s jump right in to the basics: what I wanted, in general, was a drink buffet setup for when I have friends come over. I plan on doing more entertaining this fall, so it seemed like a great opportunity to build something I could use as frequently as I like. But I also wanted it to not be a permanent structure, or else I’d have maintain it outside. Ideally, it would be something I could build in parts and assemble/disassemble as needed. That meant needing a solid base with enough distributed weight on top to hold ice and drinks, but not tip over (or worse, bow in the middle and become a major party foul).
I got started with a simple inspiration idea from this post about a wedding rehearsal in 2012 (the image is all over Pinterest so I’m betting there’s a 99% chance you’ve seen it before, but I didn’t feel comfortable using the photo on this site unless I got the original wedding photographer’s permission to feature it). I’d seen it around the web for a long time but figured it was a DIY up until I started trying to build one myself. So, since I couldn’t find a DIY equivalent, I made plans for you guys as well (they’re below as you scroll through). I’ll make a downloadable version soon!
Building the wood tray
This project was made almost entirely by using scrap wood, and just like my coffee table, assembly began in my living room while watching TV. Using a couple of pine 1×6’s, I cut the sides (5 feet) and ends (2 feet) and mitered each corner to fit into a box. I glued and clamped things together, but I noticed that the mitered corners were still pretty weak after waiting a few minutes to let the bond set up (immediately thinking that I maybe should have just left it as simple squared cuts instead… my experience with glue in general is that it does best when it has a nice surface to hold on to). I taped up the edges with some painter’s tape to give it a little extra hold. I also went ahead and cut 3 bottom supports using some scrap poplar and glued that, too.
Assembling the concrete block base
While all of that was going on, I moved outside to assemble the cinder block bases. The inspiration photo looked like they used a standard 8-inch width, but I wanted something sleeker using three 4-inch blocks per side (making the entire structure a little lower than waist-high for me). This narrower block risked that my project could be top-heavy, so I needed to make sure these were nice and solidly glued together.
This was the part that I was genuinely concerned that my project would fall apart before I even got the chance to put it all together, so I took my time here and used a good amount of my glue supply. I found that one side stuck really well immediately, while the second side needed to be filled, cure, and then re-glued in the same spots (essentially gluing the product to itself to help fill in the rough surface of the cinder block). It definitely needed plenty of opportunity to cure, so I just let it be overnight and let the weight of each block keep the stack together. But the most important part: my diligence paid off, and I could pick up the stack from the top like one solid piece!
Supporting the bottom of the drink tray
After the basic frame of the top tray was finishing curing, I moved everything outside and flipped it upside down to work on the bottom. The scrap plywood I cut for the base would make the tray much heavier (not to mention the waterproofing I’d be adding too), so I decided to add some additional support to the bottom in the way of gluing in 1/4″ dowels. Using larger and larger drill bits (start with a narrower bit and then re-drill the same hole with a larger bit until you can dry fit the dowel into the hole), I created two dowel spots for each end of the supporting cross pieces along the bottom (which again, looks like the top in the below pic because it’s flipped).
Then, I dry fit a 1/4″ dowel through the hole and marked a line to cut it to the right length. I noticed that by sanding the dowels on the end first, it made for less friction and made the gluing process easier.
With the dowels all in place, I could remove the clamps and flip things over for the final steps.
Since I had a little bit more scrap wood, I also glued in triangular pieces to sit in the bottom of each corner of the tray (you can see these below and in the build plans). Since the scrap plywood I used wasn’t perfectly flat, I figured a little extra support can’t hurt.
Finishing the plywood base
Tape off, clamps off, and ready to drop the plywood in!
I’ll admit right away: the plywood wound up not being a perfectly square cut. It worked out in my favor in the end though, since it meant I didn’t need to drill holes into the bottom to account for melting ice (it instead dripped out of these gaps… love a happy accident, right?).
I weighted down the plywood to help to glue it to the bottom supports, but it just didn’t work out in my favor enough and I had to use a few screws to secure the bottom (#scrapwoodproblems).
Finally, I glued in another small corner cut on top of the plywood to sort of sandwich the plywood between the two corner pieces. And the best part? According to this woodworking chart, this is called a BUTT RUB JOINT. Because of course, when I decide to finally learn more about joinery, the first thing I try (unbeknownst to me) is a butt rub joint. I am not mature enough not to find that hilarious.
Still need the plans? Here they are!
Outdoor Drink Station Plans
(closeup version of that little corner “M” above)
And here it is in a quick little assembly GIF:
Protect, Stain and Paint
Once the assembly of the tray was complete, it was time to add in waterproofing, stain, and finishing touches. I had a bunch of the paint-on waterproofing membrane I used in my bathroom renovation left over, so that made a convenient option for the interior (especially because it dries fast enough to paint on two coats in just a few hours). I just love finding alternative uses for leftover home renovation products!
For added color, I stained the outside with a mixture of Minwax Ipswich Pine and Early American stain colors (I like to wash on multiple colors if I’m not quite achieving the hue I want; it usually produces a small mixture of the first color with a hint of the second). I also sprayed on three coats of Indoor/Outdoor spar urethane (to help protect from UV damage, rain, etc.). As you can see in the photo above, I used the corners to test out stain colors with the intention of covering over them with decorative corners that matched the concrete block base.
I taped off a small lip of the inside of the tray and sprayed it, along with the corners (made from simple wooden lath) and the concrete block base with a nearly-black spray paint (Valspar Outdoor Spray Paint in Dark Knight). I’ll have a video for you guys soon where I tried out a few different spray paints and there is a clear different in cheap versus quality paint when it comes to these kinds of surfaces!
Just for fun, I positioned everything over near the new hedge line along the fence in the back yard (can you imagine how awesome it’s going to look when the hedges grow in??). For added greenery (because it’s fall and everything beginning to turn brown), I added some potted gardenias, clipped off a few hydrangeas for a bouquet, an olive leaf wreath, and a few decorative outdoor lights to my setup.
Small tip on the cinder blocks: because I wanted to keep this easy for disassembling, I chose to reinforce each piece of the base with rebar I just hammered into the dirt just in case it got too top-heavy. I think it probably would have been fine without it, but I didn’t want to leave things to chance. The upside to that is that I can just remove the rebar and store all the pieces much more conveniently than if it were all attached together, not to mention this lets me move it in and out of the garage without assistance (it rained earlier this week and I actually already moved it into the garage for the next use). If it lasts a good while, I may add a few more small pieces of scrap to the underside of the wooden tray so that it has an exact space to interlock over the top of each cinder block.
But once I was done with assembly, it was time for a party!
This thing really does hold a lot of drinks! The ice drains out nicely as it melts, and the waterproofing worked like a champ! The all-purpose formula of the Krazy Glue held nicely throughout the evening, so I can definitely say I think it’s well suited for outdoor use.
I plan to bring out the drink station again for the next get-together, but until then, it is being stored in separate sections (tray + two cinder block legs) in the garage so I can more easily fit it into my narrow storage space. Win-win.
So, that’s it! At least, for now. I’m planning on adding a new video to my Youtube channel about what I learned on this build, as well as more info about the spray paint. This project really piqued my curiosity on other woodworking ideas, so I may have found yet another hobby I’m going to buy way too many toys for.
Have you used Krazy Glue for anything lately?
This post was sponsored by Krazy Glue, the all-purpose formula instant adhesive available in a wide assortment for multiple applications and bonds to a variety of surfaces. Thanks so much to their team for making this a fun challenge to do!