Chest freezers are ugly beasts. If you don’t have an appropriate garage or other outbuilding then you’re stuck with keeping it in the house. Building a cabinet around it so it blends in with the rest of the kitchen helps to hide it well.
The freezer this cabinet was designed for is a Fridgemaster MCF198_WH Chest Freezer. It was £199 (before any discounts) at time of writing.
You can download the .skp file to import into SketchUp here: https://phil.lavin.me.uk/downloads/Freezer-Cabinet.skp
Because the lid is fairly heavy and the handle is a standard cupboard handle which screws in from the back, I had to modify it slightly. I drilled out the screw holes on the back of the handle to 5.5mm and then tapped them to a 6mm thread. I screwed 6mm threaded rod into this hole, approx 25cm long, then drilled 6mm holes about 25cm deep in the front of the worktop. Gorilla glue was applied into the worktop holes to fix the rod in firmly.
Lid Opening Mechanism
As the wooden lid opens, it also needs to lift open the lid of the freezer. This requires a sliding mechanism between the two lids. They are “Connect Fitting for Integrated Appliance Cabinet Doors”. Here’s what one looks like:
The idea is to allow the lid of the freezer to slide towards the back of the wooden lid as it lifts up. Here’s what that looks like, in practice:
The lid is incredibly heavy and supporting it whilst rooting around in the freezer is a challenge. Gas struts can help with this. Gas struts are retracting tubes filled with gas which will automatically extend themselves and support a significant weight when they reach a certain level of manual extension. You very likely have them on your car boot and/or bonnet.
You can pick up gas struts from plenty of websites. These are the ones I used. Make sure you get ‘Adjustable Force’ struts. These come with a small screw on them which you can open to release some of the gas as even a 700N strut is incredibly strong and you will not be able to close the freezer lid without first releasing some of the gas. When adjusting the struts, it’s a good idea to do them individually. I.e. attach and adjust the first strut until you can close the lid with minimal downward force, detach the first strut, attach and adjust the second strut as with the first, attach both struts. If each strut can hold the weight of the lid individually, it means you haven’t over-adjusted one of the struts, as they may not come with exactly the same amount of gas in. Once both struts are fitted, you may want to release a tiny bit of gas from each of them to allow the lid to close easier but see how they feel.
There’s plenty of decent gas strut calculators online which will show you the strut force required for your application (I’d be very surprised if it was ever over 700N for a freezer!) but also the optimum fixing angles in terms of distance from the hinge, etc. Here’s a good one.
In my case, I bought has struts with a ball and socket joint on one end and a bracket on the other. The ball part of the ball and socket joint had an M6 bolt which screwed nicely into M6 insert nuts, fixed in with some gorilla glue and locktite. The bracket fixed to the wooden lid. I had to rout out large slots in the cabinet frame so the struts had somewhere to go when the lid was closed. To make this easier, you could just make the cabinet another 60mm or so wider so you have 30mm gaps either side of the freezer for the struts to sit in.
Another point to note is that, in the closed state, the struts are incredibly strong. This means they will pull the front part of the lid away from the back part with some significant force. This will, effectively, stretch your hinges… so make sure you use decent heavy duty hinges. Never unscrew your hinges without first detaching the gas struts! It will force the lid forward and rip your cabinet apart.
Photos of the gas strut fixings are below. Here’s a video of the mechanism. Please excuse the lack of paint – it still needs painting following the modification to add struts.
The cabinet is made from the following materials:
- Frame: 40mm x 40mm planed square edge timber
- Panels: 18mm MDF
- Lid: 40mm white oak worktop
- Hinges: HAFELE Folding Table Hinges (Chrome)
- Handle: Second Nature Yard Cupboard Handle (224mm centres / satin copper)
- Gas Struts: 700N Adjustable Force Gas Struts
- Paint: Johnstones Water Based Satin (mixed to Farrow and Ball “Mole’s Breath” colour)
- Top Oil: Base coat of Osmo Wood Protector (Clear), Top coats of Osmo Top Oil (Clear, Satin)