This year, fall entertaining means having a great outdoor living setup—and we’ve decided to bring the kitchen outside, too, by creating an outdoor cook station.

The idea for this project has been brewing for years. The goal was to provide an outdoor station for long-cooking foods that tend to fill the house with odors (think slow-cooked pork), and to provide a spot for cooking something particularly messy or prone to splattering (think high-heat skillet cooking).   

I mean, I love pulled pork—but I don’t want to smell it for 16 hours before I eat it. And I love a seared piece of meat once in a while, but I’m less likely to make it when it fills the kitchen with smoke. This cook station has a lid that can be opened all the way for unencumbered cooking on a butane burner. or it can be propped open part way to provide shelter from the elements for a slow cooker that’s bringing your chicken adobo to perfection.  

Step 1: Cut lumber for cook station frame

Our outdoor cook station requires a lot of cutting, so a good circular saw will speed up the process and make sure that we end up with nice, even cuts. 

To begin, lay out your lumber materials and begin cutting the lumber for the frame of the cook station. 

measure lumber for cook station

From an eight foot two-by-three, cut a 50” piece and a 36” long piece.  

From a second two-by-three, cut another 50” and 36” piece. The four cut pieces so far will be the front and back uprights of the box frame.

From a third two-by-three, cut four pieces 21” long. 

From a fourth two-by-three, cut four pieces 18-½” pieces and one 21” length.

Cut two 28” pieces from an eight foot two-by-two for the buttresses. 

Cut two 28” pieces from an eight foot one-by-three for the lid.

From an eight foot one-by-four, cut two pieces 24” long and two pieces 20-¾” long for the framework of the door. 

wood for outdoor cook station

Step 2: Assemble box frame

Using 2½” screws, join one 50” two-by-three and one 36” two-by-three together with two 18-1/2” two-by-threes—one connecting the two ends (which will be the bottom) and one at the top of the 36” piece and therefore 14” down from the long end of the 50” piece. Duplicate for the other side.

Next, we’ll join the sides. Use two 21” two-by-threes to join the top and bottom of the 36” sides. Using two 21” two-by-threes, join the two sides at the back: one at the bottom and one 14” down from the top. 
The last rung to install at the top/back of the frame is different, and includes a piece of cant strip, which is a board with a triangular cross section. To prepare this last rung, cut a 21"-long piece of cant strip (we used a handsaw, but a power saw works just as well). Screw the cant strip onto the edge of a 21”-long two-by-three using 2” screws. 

Now use this two-part to join the top of the 50” legs. The triangular cant strip should be even with the top of the 50” legs and slope downward toward the 36” front. 

connect ends for outdoor oven

screw ends for outdoor oven
connect ends
mark end for outdoor cook station
cut outdoor oven side

Step 3: Cut and place buttresses

Here, we’re going to cut two two-by-twos that angle from the front edge up to the back.To find the correct angle, hold one 28” two-by-two along the outside of the box frame so the board lines up with the top front corner of the back leg and the top front corner of the front leg. Mark the needed angle with a pencil, noting which is the top and bottom.
Now, with your pencil marks facing up, carefully cut the pieces with a handsaw. You don’t have to be extremely precise with this cut, but going slowly and getting a straight cut will serve you well.
Next, attach the buttresses at the top and bottom with a screw at each end of each buttress.

connect wood to bbq cook station

Step 4: Install cooking platform

For a shelf to cook on, we cut boards a little less than the width of the box frame and placed them back to front on top of the side braces that are 36" from the bottom. We used a one-by-three at the back, then three one-by-sixes and another one-by-three at the front. For the front board, we found we had nothing to attach it to, so we added a two-by-three underneath attached at either side. 

Note: The photos show this step happening after the siding boards are in place. That's how we built it, but we realized it would have been a lot easier to install the platform here in Step 4 rather than after the siding boards are in place.

create wood oven shelf

wood oven top

outdoor cook station box

build cook station top
diy cook station

Step 5: Assemble and mount door

Using two 20” and two 24” one-by-fours, build a rectangle 20” wide and 31” tall. Join the corners using flat braces. The framework won’t be super sturdy yet, but it will become more so when you add the siding boards.
Next, hold the door frame in the front of the box frame—about an inch below the horizontal two-by-three at the top of the 36” legs. Position two 6” T-hinges so that the rectangular wing of the hinge goes straight back along the side of the box frame and the pointed wing of the hinge lays across the front. Mark the four holes of the rectangular wing on the 36” upright.   Mark the outer two holes on the pointed wing and then screw the pointed wing of the hinge into place on the top and bottom sides of the frame. Note: The holes nearest the hinge pin on the pointed wing weren't used because they line up with the outer frame and not the door frame (see photo below).
Note the distance between the top of the one-by-four door frame and the top of the horizontal two-by-three of the box frame (2-1/2 ” in our case). 
Now screw or nail five one-by-six siding pieces, each 35” long, onto the door frame so they extend above the top of the door frame a little less than the measurement you took above (we deducted ¼”, so 2-1/4” was our overhang and we used a scrap piece of wood that length to keep things consistent. Butt your first board up against the pin of the hinge. Secure the first board and then follow with the other four boards to complete the door. Take care to be screwing or nailing into the frame behind and not into the hinge or where the wood frame isn’t behind the boards. A yardstick can help keep a neat, even row of fasteners.

join corners
cook station top
diy cook station door

Step 6: Attach side boards

Cut five one-by-six siding boards to 50” and screw or nail them onto one side of the box frame. Use a saw to cut the boards flush along the same angle and even with the top of the buttresses. We used a circular saw with a straight board clamped on as a guide, being careful to double and triple check that our cut was going to start and end in the right spots. Repeat for the other side. 

attach oven side boards
wood oven side boards
cook station side board

Step 7: Assemble lid

The swing-up lid of the cook station will be 27” siding boards mounted on top of two one-by-threes on hinges. Start with the one-by-threes. Fasten one wing of a strap hinge to the end of each one-by-three. Lay the one-by-three parallel to the buttresses you affixed in Step 3 with the other end of the strap hinge overlapping the kant strip on the high side of the box frame and pointing straight down. Double check the length of the one-by-threes and adjust if necessary to make sure they lay at the same angle as the buttresses. What you're after here is the one-by-threes being exactly even with the buttresses. Fasten the other side of the hinges to the back of the box frame once adjusted. Now that the framework for the lid is ready, fasten six 27” one-by-six siding boards to it, starting at the bottom and working up the slope. Overlap the boards so the joints move water to the lower board and don't scoop water into the joint.

assemble cook station lid
attach cook station lid
build outdoor cook station
diy cook station lid

Step 8: Attach back boards

Cut five one-by-six siding boards to 50” and screw or nail into place on the back of the box frame. 

attach oven back board
cook station back board
diy oven board

Step 9: Prepare stay rod for lid

We want our lid to be able to be propped open in multiple positions. Our first thought was to use a spring lid support, but we discovered they only work for a 90-degree swing and we have more than that. In the end, we decided to go simple and use a 24”-long piece of rod which we can place into grooves on the underside of the lid and into indents in a buttress on the lower end. We found three open positions for the lid that we liked, marked where the rod would be on the buttress, and drilled an indent in the buttress to hold the bottom of the rod. Our three positions were: lid fully open, lid horizontal, and about halfway in between.

If you’re right handed, you’ll probably want to mount this on the left so it won’t get in the way of your right hand while cooking.

Lastly, we glued some magnets in place on the vertical edge of the buttress to store the metal rod when not in use.

lid stay rod
lid stay rods
lid for outdoor oven
outdoor cook station lid

Step 10: Place floorboards in cook station 

Floorboards in the bottom of the cabinet will allow you to store things without setting them directly on the ground. For our floor, we cut three 21”-long one-by-sixes and attached them to the box frame at the front and back.

Step 11: Mount fire extinguisher

Because there could be open flame used at this wooden cook station, we mounted a fire extinguisher just inside the door.

Step 12: Install closure for door

To keep the door closed, we went simple and glued round magnets to both the inside of the door and to the door frame using quick-dry epoxy. The magnets will keep the door from blowing open, but will give way to a gentle tug.

DIY Outdoor Cook Station

And with that, you’re ready to get cooking outdoors! We hope this project helps you to gather safely with loved ones this fall. For more outdoor entertaining ideas, head to for how to build a DIY temporary patio cover, outdoor fire pit, or DIY screen for an outdoor movie night.