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Is everything packed and ready to go? Are all the tailgate necessities in hand so you can relax and listen to sports radio on the way to the game? Remembering the big stuff is easy, but don’t forget the caddy! This shoebox-sized contraption makes organizing the small must-have items like utensils and napkins a cinch. Load up the caddy before you go and shorten your set up time too.

The party before the game is all about having fun, but without the tailgating necessities, things can get messy – literally. The weather may be great for football, but a slight breeze and suddenly napkins are everywhere in the dirt. Spoons and forks sitting on a card table are easily scattered or lost. What about those special small items, like that large utility lighter or maybe a wine bottle opener? Create your own perfect storage companion with a custom caddy.

Tailgating Caddy
The What (Materials)

  • Pencil
  • Safety equipment (goggles, hearing protection)
  • Tape measure
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer
  • 1” and 2” nails
  • Saws
    • Miter saw
    • Jigsaw (optional)
  • Sandpaper or sanding sponge
  • Wood
    • 1” x 10” x 8” – quantity 2
    • ¼ x 1 ½ x 36” – quantity 3
    • ¼ x 5 ½ x 36” – quantity 1
    • 1” x 2” x 12” – quantity 1

NOTE: When using scrap pieces of wood, the dimensions of your caddy may change. Please take these as merely suggestions and feel free alter the design as needed.

TIP: Decide in advance what you plan to put in the caddy. This helps determine how many compartments to build. You can even measure some the items, like salt and pepper shakers, to keep everything snug and secure.

The How-To (Instructions)

You are essentially building a toolbox with two even sides and a middle portion that extends above the sides to form a bracket for the handle.

  1. Cut the ends of your caddy in the same sitting, so they match. The size of your caddy will vary depending on the scrap wood available, but our example uses 10” x 8” pieces.
    • Measure and mark the following points on both boards from the top:
      • Four inches down on either side
      • Four inches inward on the top section from both corners
  1. Connect the dots – use the miter saw to cut at triangle off the top two corners of the boards. The result is square on the bottom and triangular at the top.
    • For fancier aesthetic, cut curves instead of straight lines using a jigsaw. A plate makes for a good template and your arcs will be the same on both sides.
  2. Leave the inch in the middle as a wide peak to attach the handle later
  3. Make the outer frame by nailing the sides together
    • Use 12″ strips of wood as the length of your caddy
    • We placed two strips on one side, and three on the other, so one side is lower than the other. The lower side is the front of the caddy.
  4. Nail the strips onto the outside of your end boards with 2” nails

Side compartments intended for small items like salt and pepper are next.

  1. Measure the bottles you intend to take to the game to determine the size of the outer compartments
    • Cut the ¼” x 1 ½” strips into the following pieces for condiment bottles:
      • 2 ¾” for the sides – quantity 2
      • 5” for the back – quantity 1
      • 5 ½” for the bottom – quantity 1
    • Cut the ¼” x 1 ½” strips of wood into the following pieces for the salt and pepper shakers:
      • 2 ¼” for the sides – quantity 2
      • 4” for the back – quantity 1
      • 4 ½” for the bottom – quantity 1
  1. Assemble the side compartments using 1” nails
  2. From the inside of the caddy, use 1″ nails to attach the side compartments to the mainframe.
  3. Using whatever scraps of wood you have on hand, cut pieces to fit the bottom of the caddy
  4. Attach the bottom of the caddy to the main frame with 2” nails.
  5. For dividers, measure the inside of your caddy and cut a few pieces to fit inside
    • Ours were 10 ½” in length
  6. Remove the dividers and replace them, this time using wood glue
  7. Reinforce the dividers with 1” nails hammered in from the outside of the caddy.
    • Add additional compartments for small, specialty items if desired.

You still need a handle, so measure the interior length between the two tops of the sides.

  1. Cut a section of the 1” x 2” wood to fit.
  2. Nail the handle into place with 2” nails.

The Finish

Painting or sealing the caddy will help it last beyond one season’s use. Not sure of the exact colors of your team? Colleges often have unique names for their schemes and taking a moment to find the right color terminology can help you find the perfect match at the store. Go all out and glue a decal with your team’s logo right on the side!

Gathering all the tailgating necessities can be a bit daunting. Having a checklist is useful, and a pre-packed tailgate caddy will make that list even easier to tick the boxes. Not only will the fans around you be impressed that you built it, but for functional football fans it makes a low-cost customized gift.

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