Turn Your Old Cooler Into A Portable Air Conditioner

A few years ago I was fixing up an older Jeep Cherokee XJ and when she was finally up and running a problem was realized.  It was June in South Louisiana and the Jeep’s a/c system was leaking Freon.  With no room in the budget for a/c repair or replacement I took to the internet to see what could be done for me to drive my baby without sweating bullets.

My first stab at staying cool was by purchasing the RoadPro 12V Tornado Fan.  Though it was pretty loud, the fan was quite strong and very impressive.  The conditions inside the Jeep were definitely improved, but I knew that I could do better.

Back to the internet I went, more specifically to YouTube, and this is where I found my second, and final temporary solution to my Jeep a/c issue.  I discovered that you can make a portable air conditioner using only a fan, a cooler, ice, and some PVC pipe.  I happened to have all three laying around so I was good to go.  Below are the tools I used to make my portable a/c and the steps involved in the build.

TOOLS

Jigsaw or Oscillating Multitool

Hole Saw

Electric Drill

Silicone Adhesive

THE BUILD

At the end of this article I have posted a link to the video that inspired my portable a/c build.  I put my own spin on the project by using different components than the one seen in the video due to the fact that it was what I already had on hand.

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Trace the outline of your fan onto the top of the cooler.
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Using a jigsaw or multi-tool cut out the hole for the fan.
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Using a hole saw or multi-tool cut out a place for your PVC pipe.

This is where the cool air will exit the cooler.  If this particular cooler had enough area on the lid to put a PVC 90 degree elbow on top I would have place it there, but I put the pipe on the side due to the smaller size of this cooler’s lid.  If you put your exhaust pipe on the side of your cooler do not put it too low, as the water from the melted ice could leak out through the exhaust pipe if it is too low.

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I used a rubber gasket and silicone to seal the exhaust pipe then added two screws for good measure.
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The silicone is really all that is needed to seal and hold the pipe in place.

Your new portable a/c is practically done.  Just place some ice in the cooler and the fan in its hole, plug it in, and enjoy the constant cool breeze.

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Your portable air conditioner is complete!

I will be the first to admit that this is not the sexiest contraption in the world,(it was not always this dirty) but it is literally a very cool project that is a lot of fun to complete.  I was skeptical at first but this thing rode in my passenger seat and worked great.  Believe it or not I actually had temperature readings in Fahrenheit ranging from the upper 40s to the lower 60s exiting the pipe.  The large variance in temperature was due to the amount of ice and type of ice used (packs vs. cubes).

Chances are you have everything you need to make your own portable a/c already laying around your house as I did, but if you do not but would still like to undertake this fun little project I have linked to some affordable components below.

48 Qt. Ice Chest

110V Fan

12V Vehicle Fan

Oscillating Multi-tool

Or you could just splurge for a store bought portable a/c unit like the Black and Decker 8000 BTU Portable A/C.

Here is the link to the YouTube video that inspired my own portable cooler a/c build.  Portable A/C Video

Thank you for reading.  Be sure to like, comment, follow tool-school.com and share this post on social media!  Have a great week!

Jake with tool-school.com

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DIY Two-Ingredient Wood Stain

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As I was sitting down to write this post my wife made it home from work just in time to burst my bubble, the explanation follows.  I have written several articles like this one discussing spoon carving and make quite a few wooden kitchen utensils.  Though I enjoy the natural look of the wood when finished I have seen spoons that have color added to them that look great and wanted to figure out a food-safe method of adding color to some of mine.  After researching and experimenting with homemade vinegar-coffee stains, I decided to get creative and make my own type of stain by subtracting the coffee and using a vinegar-food coloring mix to stain wood.  After testing my creation I felt brilliant.

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Piece of Pecan with all four colors applied to it.

Being the humble creative genius that I am I allowed my wife to dwell inside of our home upon returning from work about two and a half seconds before bragging about my ingenious concoction and you know what she politely said?  “Oh cool, that is how you make Easter egg dye.”  Womp-Womp.  Even though I am not that bright, or aware of how the most popular food coloring agent in the history of the world is made, I spent too much time and made too much of a mess to not share this process with you regardless.

Below are some pictures of pine that I stained.  The left is unstained, the right is stained.  Each stained piece is just a mixture of a liberal amount of food coloring and white vinegar.

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Blue
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Green
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Yellow
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Red

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I tried the homemade stain on different types of wood just to make sure that it would show up well on more than just pine, and it did. Pictured from top to bottom is Elm, Oak, and Pecan.
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Unbeknownst to me at the time, this is probably my only semi-original stain idea. This is a mixture of paprika and water that turned the wood a pretty orange color.

Whether you use food coloring and vinegar or paprika and vinegar to stain wood it can definitely add a nice colorful flare to your woodworking projects, especially those projects designed for child or kitchen use.  From spoons and cutting boards to kids blocks and wooden toys, it is nice to be able to add color to projects without sacrificing safety.

If you do not want to reinvent the wheel as I did, you can just opt for some Easter egg dye and call it a day.  I honestly did not know that vinegar and food coloring, when combined, enhanced woodworking projects as well as the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  I learn something knew everyday.

Below are a few more nontoxic options for staining and finishing wood.

Food Safe Wood Stain

Butcher Block Oil & Finish

Easter Egg Dye

White vinegar

Food Coloring Variety Kit – 12 Pack

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to like, comment, follow, and share on social media.  To learn how to make your own wooden spoons check out my tutorial How to Carve Spoons With Basic Hand Tools.

How to Make a Wooden Spoon with Hand Tools

Possibly the best thing about making wooden spoons is that it allows right-brained people to experience success and satisfaction in the often left-brained world of woodworking.  In fact, it is not uncommon for some of the more off-script creations to be some of the more interesting and beautiful spoons that are carved.  Not only does spoon making present artistic liberties not able to be had in many other forms of woodworking, but the hobby also allows for success participation with minimal investment in terms of tools.  I actually made my first twenty or so spoons with nothing more than a hacksaw, a wood chisel, and some sandpaper, one of which is the center spoon pictured below.

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The spoon in the middle was one of my first creations using only a wood chisel, handsaw, and sandpaper. It is a beautiful piece of Pecan wood that I pulled from the bayou behind my shop. I like this spoon but kind of wish that I had the piece of wood back since it was so pretty and my skills were so limited when I made it.

THE TOOLS

Before we get into the build, here are the exact tools used for this particular project.  Altogether these tools can be purchased for about $80 on Amazon.  Click the link provided for individual pricing and reviews.

Wood Gouge Set

 Hacksaw with blade storage handle

 Spoon Gouge

  Wood Rasp

  Half Round Wood File

40 Grit Sanding Belts

Though probably not ideal, I typically use the 4″ bench vise similar to this one seen in most of the pictures with a block of wood on each side of the work piece to avoid damage, but a woodworker’s vise would most likely be better due to the fact it is designed for the use.  You can even use less costly work clamps  or toggle clamps to hold your work piece, though they are not quite as stable as a vise.

THE PROCESS

1st – Choose your wood

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For a cooking spoon that will be used you will want to choose a hardwood so that the utensil will hold up to potential daily use. Woods like hickory, maple, ash, oak, walnut, and cherry make very good cooking spoons. I typically use Pecan wood (a species of hickory) because it is readily available to me here in South Louisiana and I think that it is beautiful wood. All of my spoons come from fallen trees and limbs that I pick up myself and make spoon blanks and other things from. You do not have to make your own blanks, you can simply buy untreated hardwood lumber from your local lumber yard and cut many blanks from it.

2nd – Choose your design

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I use this cheap wooden spoon that I got some time back from a local dollar store to get the basic shape for many of my spoons.
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I really like the shape/design of the spoon that I use as my template because it is simple, but offers many options for choosing what type of spoon to make in terms of depth and intended purpose.
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This particular spoon will be a basic cooking spoon, so I added a curved line to outline the perimeter of the shallow bowl to be carved.

3rd – Rough out the bowl

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Using the largest gouge from the set previously pictured, begin to gouge out the bowl of the spoon. Work from bottom to top and top to bottom of the bowl (the direction in the picture and its opposite), not side to side, as this will prevent splitting and tearing of the wood.
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Depending on the depth you are trying to achieve, it will not take long before you have your bowl roughed out. P.S. I suggest waiting to cut the spoon’s shape out after carving the bowl to allow for compensation for potential errors. It is not uncommon to get a little too ambitious with the gouges and cut past your bowl outline or get some tear out. With extra wood on the side of your outline you can almost always compensate for your miscues.

4th – Clean up the bowl

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Using a spoon gouge you will finish defining the shape and contour of your bowl to the final depth.
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Unlike the wood gouge, the spoon gouge should be carefully used in all directions to clean up any previously made tool marks as best as possible.
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All that is left for the bowl is sanding.

5th – Cut out the spoon

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I typically use a bandsaw to cut out the spoon but for the sake of this post I used a hacksaw. It comes out just as good, it just takes a little longer. A jigsaw or handsaw could be used just as well.
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To cut out the spoon without cutting into the curves and contours of the piece simply make a series of cuts horizontal to the spoon up to the spoon’s outline.
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After you make your horizontal cuts, cut along them to remove each block of wood from your previous cuts. Be careful not to cut into your spoon. Do not worry if your outline looks super rough and uneven, we will address that in the next step.

6th – Clean up the shape

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Use your wood rasp to rough out the shape of the back of the bowl and the handle. The rasp will remove a good bit of wood so be sure that you begin with a blank that is thick enough to lose some wood in the later shaping process.
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A half-round file (pictured closest to the bowl) is a good substitute for the rasps when shaping the curves and contours of the handle and the area where the handle meets the bowl.
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After shaping with the rasp and file, use the coarse sanding belt to finish shaping the spoon to its final form. For the back of bowl and handle you will want to use a two-handed “flossing” method to get a nice rounded contour. By “flossing” I mean take one end of the belt in your left hand, the other end in your right, and pull down with your right hand, then pull down with your left, and repeat. Your sanding belt will glide back and forth across the work piece while being oriented like the belt in the picture.
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You can see how much nicer the shape is after the “flossing” sanding method when you compare this picture to the previous one.
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Repeat the same sanding method used on the back of the bowl on the handle to get your final desired shape.

7th – Final sanding

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After the last step you should basically have your final shape, all there is left to do is some progressive finish sanding. Starting with a coarse grit paper (60 grit), sand away all previously made tool and sanding marks from the handle and back of bowl. Once all previous marks are sanded away progress to a slightly finer grit paper (100 grit). Continue progressing to finer grit papers, sanding out all marks left previously, until you get to a 300 or 400 grit paper. Since it is a cooking spoon that will be used often, there is really no need to progress to a sand paper any finer than 300 or 400 grit for the handle and back of bowl unless you just want to for some reason. I personally do not progress to a paper finer than 220 on the inside of the bowl for the same reason just mentioned.
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Front view after final sanding.
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Rear view after sanding.

8th/Final – Sealing the wood

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There are many different food grade oils that can be used to seal the wood. I personally whatever I have on hand in the kitchen which is vegetable, canola, or olive oil.
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I used vegetable oil to seal this spoon. I typically apply a liberal amount upon completion of the spoon, let it dry for a day, then apply another coat of oil and let it dry for a day or two before use.
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I have used coconut oil in the past and it looks great, but coconut oil is solid at room temperature and leaves a heavy residue feel to the spoon once the oil re-solidifies after being applied.

It always fascinates me how sealing Pecan with oil completely transforms the color of the wood.  It takes on a much darker, rich look compared to the lighter color of the unsealed pecan.

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Sealed
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Unsealed

Though there are power tools that expedite the spoon making process, they are not necessary for the completion of a great spoon.  Truth be told I typically forgo many of my power tools for the process described in this post because it allows for better control and accuracy in making the spoon, which leads to a better finished product.  Not to mention all of the tools used in this project can be purchased for about the same price of my Wen belt sander pictured below, and although I love it,  it is just one tool opposed to six.

I hope that you have enjoyed this article and found it to be informative.  If you did I would greatly appreciate if you would like, comment, follow tool-school.com, and share this post on social media.  Should you have any questions or like more information on how to make your own wooden spoons please do not hesitate to ask in the comment section or contact me at jakestoolschool@yahoo.com.  Thanks so much for reading!

Jake

DIY Cheap Football Goal Post Anyone Can Assemble

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A few years ago I had quite a few soccer players in one of my middle school Health and Physical Education classes that were pretty good athletes.  Being an American football and basketball guy, and having never played nor really even watched soccer before, I did not relate very well to their athletic goals and interest.  I encouraged the kids, who would soon be high school freshman, to try their hand at football for the upcoming year because I believed their athleticism would benefit the freshman team.  They appreciated the encouragement but I could tell their interests were not growing in the least bit.  I searched for a way to bridge the interest gap between the two sports and the solution that I came up with was buying a field goal post for the kids to hone their kicking skills on.

Not long into my search I came across this pretty cool soccer goal/field goal post combo sold by Net World Sports but since the acquisition of an upright was coming out of my own pocket I decided to keep searching for a solution.  As it turned out the soccer/field goal post combo ended up being the most affordable of the practical field goal posts that I found for sale so I then shifted into DIY mode.  Not long into my internet search I discovered a few videos that demonstrated how to make a goal post from 3″ pvc pipe and tee fittings, so off to the hardware store I went.

I no longer work at the same school that I built the field goal post at and I left the post there when I transferred to a different school so for cost sake I have recreated the build in the pictures and video below using smaller pipe and fittings.

Pictured below is a 1/10 scale replica of the original goal post build.  The build in the post uses 1/2″ ID pvc pipe with 1/2″ tee fittings.  (“=inch and ID=Inside diameter) The 1/2″ pipe is cut into 12″ and 6″ sections which is 1/10 the length of the 120″(10ft) and 60″(5ft) 3” pvc pipe sections.

The materials and tools list is as follows:

Hacksaw

PVC PRIMER/GLUE (optional)

6 – 10ft long 3″ runs of PVC pipe ($11 per pipe)

4 – 3″ PVC tee fittings ($4.50 per fitting)

Before the assembly begins you will need to take 3 of the 10′ long pieces of pipe and cut them in half (5ft or 60in).  This will leave you with 3-10ft runs of pipe and 6-5ft runs of pipe.

Though the pipe size and length in the video and pictures below differ from that of the actual size and length of the pipe in the build, the assembly process is the exact same.

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You will start the build with (3)-10′ pieces of pipe, (6)-5′ pieces of pipe, and (4) tee fittings.
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Insert (1) of the 5′ sections of pipe into one of the tee fittings as shown above.
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Now insert another 5′ section of pipe into the other end of the tee fitting that you inserted the first 5′ section into as shown in the picture.
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Complete the same process a second time using two more 5′ sections of pipe and another tee fitting so that you have two configurations that look like the two in the picture above.
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Next place a 5′ section of pipe into the middle opening of the tee fitting so that you have a 5′ section in each of the three openings of the fitting.
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Repeat the previous step with the other tee fitting you previously inserted two 5′ pieces of pipe into. You should now only have three 10′ pieces of pipe, 2 tee fittings, and two configurations that look like the ones pictured here.
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Next insert the last two tee fittings onto the two T-shaped configurations that you have assembled. Each tee should be positioned on the one piece of 5′ pipe that intersects the other two installed. The horizontal opening of the second tee fitting installed should be oriented so that it is in an intersecting direction to the bottom two pieces of 5′ pipe.
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Now you will insert one of the 10′ pieces of pipe into each of the horizontal openings of the two configurations that you have made forming a bridge and connecting the two configurations.
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Now that you are left with only two 10′ sections of pipe that have not been assembled, install one of them into the vertical opening of either tee fitting.
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Install the last 10′ piece of pipe into the other vertical opening on the opposite tee and now your field goal post is complete! This miniature version looks pretty good, but the full sized goal post looks even cooler.

If desired the field goal post could be cemented together where all pipes and fittings join to make to post stronger.  When I built my full sized field goal I did use pvc cement, but I did not bond every single joint.  I cemented the post in a way that made it pretty portable without losing much strength.  Below is a picture of the sections that I joined together with pvc cement and those that I left independent of the others.

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This is how my goal post was able to be broken down into 5 pieces in order to be moved more easily than if it were completely bonded together or not bonded with pvc cement at all. Cementing it this way only requires four quick connections to be made each time it is reassembled and reassembly can easily be done by one person.

 

How To Assemble Goal Post Video

So after I introduced the field goal post to my classes and my students fell in love with kicking footballs through our new uprights guess how many of my soccer players ended up joining the football team.  None……..  Not a single kid that played soccer ended up playing high school football.  No sweat because all of the kids (and a few coaches and teachers) that used the field goal had a great time and learned a good bit on the art of field goal kicking.  We had numerous contests and challenges that involved this piece of equipment that were all lots of fun.  I would use the goal post as a “reward” activity for my lower elementary students by allowing them to kick a large inflatable ball through it and it was a great incentive for them to maintain good grades and behavior.  I will have to build another soon.

Below are a few links to tools that will make the build a little easier as well as a few pieces of equipment that will allow the goal post to be used even if no one is available to hold a football.  There is also a link to the soccer goal/field goal post combo mentioned above for those of us that are not very DIY-inclined.

Fusion PVC Primer/Cement One Step

Klein Hacksaw

Soccer/Field Goal Combo

Wilson Pro Kick

Kicking Tee

Thank you very much for visiting my site!  Please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share my posts.  All feedback and support is greatly appreciated and goes a long way in helping to improve and further develop tool-school.com.