Crafting A Stout Work Cart From Pine

One thing that became immediately apparent after moving into The Foundery was that not only was the place enormous, but that I needed some sort of cart to, well, cart around some often needed tools and gear from my work area to the various machines and stations all over the 20000 square foot space. I'd find myself wandering back to my tool chests over and over. I'd bring what I thought I'd need, then realized I forgot something, then again, and then would need several trips to haul all the tools and supplies back to be put away.

I figured I should build myself a work cart that would both inspire and be utilitarian.


The design is purposely simple. Two rectangular sides made of lap jointed beams, held together by four cross members using a through dove-tail mortise and tenon joint. The sides and cross members would have dados to accept a cork covered shelf.


A funny thing about this project is that, at the time I was building the cart, almost none of the great equipment at The Foundery was hooked up to electricity. As such, except for the initial planing and some table saw usage, I did all the joinery using hand tools. By the time the cart was near completion, the water jet had been installed, which I used to make the handles.

The stock was selected from the fine wood supply store: Home Depot. I had to get six lengths of 4x4 pine to find enough knot free sections. I tried to find pith free quarter saw stock to get a consistent grain pattern on the legs. The stock was planed to clean rectangles, and spent a little while drying.

I began by cutting the lap joints for the side rectangles.

Onese these were completed, routed the shelf dados, then glued the sides together and began marking and chopping the cross member mortises:

Then cutting the tenons on the cross members:

Slowly trimming and adjusting each tenon to fit the mortise:

Eventually all the basic joinery was dry test fit:

Before the final glue up I drilled relief holes and cut slots into each of the cross member tenons:

During the final glue-up I hammered walnut wedges into the slots to spread out the tenons into a through dove-tail, locking the joint together. The relief holes prevent the wood from cracking down its length. Not pictured are cutting some plywood shelves, and sticking some cork to them.


Once the bulk of the cart was complete it was time to move on to some fun details. I thought it would be great to have metal handles with a leaf motif. The basic handles were cut out of half inch steel plate on the water jet machine:

Then clamped in a vise:

Before heating them with a torch and twisting the center of the handles, the leaves themselves were also heat bent so the handle sticks out from the art at a 45 degree angle.

I used some basic off-the-shelf casters, but before installation, both the handles and the caster metal parts were etched in acid, then heated and doused with oil to give a black color. Believe it or not, these started as shiny zinc platted casters:

Here is the finished cart, covered with two coats of tung oil:

A couple of walnut trays and some essential tools finish it out:

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A full list of projects can be found on the Projects page.