Part 4. Washtub Rehab – Construction

Profile view of the washtub tabletop doors open, showing approx. position of the hinges and a strip of rubber flashing.

I’m rehabbing an old laundry washtub into a grill cart/cooler combo. We’ve got a lot to cover today, so I’ll jump right in. Please see the gallery below for illustrations of my progress.

The Frame: My first task was to build the frame for the mouth of the washtub basin. You could simplify your project immensely by not framing it out and just attaching hinges to the side of the washtub itself, or making a lift-off lid. As stated in an earlier post, I am worried if I just attach hinges to the washtub sides that the weight of the doors being opened and closed may eventually warp the sides of the basin, leaving a gap between the swing-up doors.

I ran into a problem with my plans for the frame: I underestimated under-measured the amount of curvature in the wash tub. The 2″ x 2″ lumber wasn’t going to be wide enough to compensate for the curve and still be able to anchor to each other. I used a saber saw to round the ends of the 2 x 2 frame pieces to match the curvature of the wash basin as best I could. I then further modified my frame design by adding short braces into the corners made of 2 x 2s cut with a miter box to opposing 45˚ angles on each end and secured with two screws into each corner (see fig. 1). I had my frame!

The Doors: Cutting my tabletop was easy enough. I had a 8′ x 24″ x 1/2″ piece of plywood. I initially had to make three cuts. My first cut was to cut a piece at 22″ so that I had a piece of plywood at 22″ x 24″. My second cut took  2″ off the 24″ side, so I had my square at 22″ x 22″. My next cut was to cut the square in half. I originally planned on two equal halves, but I changed my mind. I decided to go with one door an inch wider than the other, just in case I wanted more table surface while people were using the cooler. After my cut  I have two doors, one at 22″ x 12″ and the other at 22″ x 10″. But something was bugging me. A square tabletop looks funny on a tub with rounded corners. So I took out a compass and marked-out round cut lines, then I took a saber saw and carefully cut rounded corners. I’m not a carpenter; I don’t pretend to be. I’m just a schmuck with a few power tools and a good idea for once. But I have to say, my rounded corners came out pretty good!

Mounting the Frame: Simple enough. A rubber mallet to pound the thing into the opening evenly and then a few drill-holes and some 1 1/2″ construction screws later and the thing is in.

Hinges: I won’t be mounting the hinges at this point, since I need to stain and polyurethane the doors and paint the washtub first, but I did drill pilot holes into the doors and the frame. First, I placed my doors on the washtub. Then on the underside of the doors I traced the contour of the washtub’s edge. Then I carefully turned the doors over so the bottoms were facing up and the tracing was visible. I lined everything up and then placed my hinges where I estimated they should go. Then, using a special hinge bit for my drill I drilled some pilot holes using the holes in the hinge mounting plate as guides. Then, using those holes I used a 1/8″ bit to drill completely through the doors into the frame underneath. I then turned the doors back upright and filled the holes in the tops of the doors with wood putty and sanded them down to prepare for staining. I now have pilot holes under the doors and in the frame, and looking at the top of the doors you should never notice they’ve been drilled through.

Casters: I seriously debated putting these on last, but I though if things went bad I didn’t want to ruin my paint job if I have to get rough in order to get them in. Glad I went with my gut, because things were rough! Not only did I have to hammer and punch the holes wider, but I had to drill-out some old bushings and rasp some of the holes. Naturally, this created a lot of stress and friction on the legs, and I would have ended up repainting them anyway. But they’re in and they work great!


Next Time – Painting and Staining! 

About Editor-in-Chief

A long-time resident of Wisconsin, Editor-In-Chief, more commonly known among friends and enemies alike as Eric, has been running since it’s inception. In addition to this site, Eric also worked with good friend and colleague, Madeline, on the popular web series, “How-To.” Eric lives in a 96 year old house in a small town 25 miles north of Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife and cat.
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One Response to Part 4. Washtub Rehab – Construction

  1. Pingback: Part 3. Washtub Rehab – The Plans | Wyeth Digital

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