As the number of projects that we are working on and the complexity of some of our projects increase, we needed a solution to keep us organized while allowing us to store a lot of material. This lumber cart is the result of looking over several lumber cart plans available on the internet and determining what was the best solution for our needs. We hope that you will find this post to be informative and provide enough information to help you build your very own lumber cart for your shop needs.
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Lumber carts have been around a long time, and provide a solution for many woodworkers to keep their shops organized so that they can focus on the project at hand rather than searching through all of the lumber around their shop for the perfect piece. We will note that the lumber cart is not the end-all solution to getting organized because discipline in behavior is also an important aspect of keeping a neat and organized shop. We find ourselves at times, even after the lumber cart was built, having to do a shop cleaning day in order to not feel overwhelmed with the clutter created from the projects that we are working on.
For us personally, this lumber cart design helped us to accomplish a few things. First, it helped us to find a home for all of the lumber that was sitting around our shop. Second, it helped us to organize some of our different species of wood so that we can better keep track of what lumber we have in inventory. Third, it helped us to organize larger pieces of wood that we were struggling to find a sufficient way to store in our garage. We believe that we accomplished all of that and more with this lumber cart.
5 Sheets : 3/4-in x 4-ft x 8-ft Poplar Sanded Plywood
We took all the pieces we loved from other plans we saw online and combined them together to look like the image below. This project was made of 2x4's and plywood. The images we created are not exact or to size but a representation of the steps that we took.
Building the Base Frame
We started this project by building the base frame out of 2x4s. The two long sides are 8 foot boards, so no cuts are needed if you buy them at that length. The short sides are 4 foot boards, and we attached them using our drill and some decking screws.
Next, we cut the center bars for the frame, which are 45 inches long. We placed one at center and one to the right and left of the center board with even spacing. We placed the two outer 45 in. boards about 1.5 inches away from the outside of the frame. We did this so that our casters would line up perfectly centered on the boards for when it was time to screw them in.
In doing this, the entire size of the frame is 99 inches by 48 inches. As you will see in the next photos below, this gave us some extra space for a smaller cubby within the base itself.
Adding the Plywood Floor
We used a 3/4 in. 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of plywood for the floor of the base frame. Putting this on was a two-person job as one person helped to keep it square while the other was driving in the decking screws. We spaced the screws out evenly along each side.
Adding the Casters
Next, we flipped the base frame over so that we could attach the casters (noted in blue on the photo). We used six casters because of the weight of the cart itself plus the extra weight it is carrying once loaded up with lumber. We lined these up on the outside corners and the center board. We had to wait to attach the floor locks until a later time due to shipping delays during the pandemic.
As you can see, there is a gap on the left side of the photo. This space is not covered by the plywood floor that we added in the last step.
We used this as a storage space for pieces of sandpaper that we plan to keep using at a later time. We used scrap 1/4" luan and measured to size to create this little space. This cubby was small and about 1.5 inches wide. We used a brad nailer to hold down the luan.
Building the A Frames
We built four A frames in total and all of the wood used was made from 2x4 boards. The vertical board on the right is perpendicular to the floor board, so no angled cuts were needed for this piece. This piece was 4 feet long.
Next, the horizontal board on the top was cut since it also did not need any angled edges. This top piece is 11 3/8 inches long. Following this piece, we cut the next horizontal pieces. The following dimensions are for the next horizontal boards from top to bottom (measured from the 90 degree edge to the longest side of the angled edge): 11 inches, 15 inches, and 18 inches. The angled side was cut on the miter saw at a 10 degree bevel.
If we remember correctly, the top horizontal board and the second horizontal board were about one foot apart. Then, the bottom board and the next board up were about 13 inches apart. Of course, these can be adjusted based on your preferences; however, that means that the lengths of the horizontal boards will need some adjustment as well.
Now, one last cut to make before putting the pieces together. The angled board on the left side of the A frame is 49 3/8 inches long (measured from the longest point on each side of the board). Both ends of this were also cut at a 10 degree bevel. Take your time here to ensure that you cut the angles in the correct direction.
Finally, we both worked together to screw the pieces together with decking screws.
Attaching the A Frames to the Base Frame
Once all the A frames are built, it is time to attach them to the base. This was also a two-person job as one person drove in the screws and the other person used a square to keep it stable and in position. We centered the A frames on the base so that there was 13.5 inches on each side of the A frame. This leaves the perfect spacing for the plywood and cubbies in the next steps. The two outside A frames were lined up exactly on the edge of the plywood, which means that there is 27.25 inches between each A frame.
We decided to add 1/4" luan across each layer of the A frame (outlined in blue below) so that it would be easier to slide boards through. In hindsight, we are so glad we did this because it also helps to hold shorter boards as well. We used our brad nailer to attach each thin plywood layer.
We started adding our 3/4" 4 foot by 8 foot plywood sheet to the perpendicular side of the A frame first. We continued to use our drill to drive the decking screws into the A frames.
Cutting the Cubby Frames
We switched to the other side of the lumber cart for these next steps. We'll come back to it later on once the cubbies are built.
In this stage, we needed to cut the side panels for the cubby side of the cart. We cut these out of 3/4" plywood and there were 9 panels all together. The long vertical side on the left of the picture below was 2 feet long. The bottom horizontal edge was 1 foot long while the top horizontal edge was 6 inches long. The right vertical side of the panel is 16 inches long. We used a mix of the circular saw and the table saw to make these cuts. We drew them out on the plywood before cutting so that we could utilize the space as best as possible.
Attaching the Cubbies to the Side Wall
We used our Kreg jig to pre-drill holes into the plywood panels. We put two holes into the bottom of the panel and three holes on the side that connects to the side wall. We used 1.25 inch Kreg screws for these pieces, and they were spaced approximately 11-11 3/16 inches apart.
Once each cubby panel was in place, we cut a strip of 3/4 inch plywood to go across the entire side. We used our decking screws to attach the outside wall (in blue below) to the panels. This wall measured 48 inches by 16 inches.
Back to the Other Side
Now, it is time to switch back to the other side of the cart. We added a lip to the edge of the piece, which was made out of plywood. We plan to use this side of the cart to hold sheets of plywood, so we wanted this lip to be high enough to hold layers of plywood sheets and strong enough to manage that much weight. We waited to add this part as well so that we could inventory the scrap plywood we had leftover from the other side of the cart. We initially planned to make this about 4 inches, but we decided that this was way too small. We ended up having 11 11/16 inches x 8 feet of plywood leftover, so that's what we chose to use. We're glad now that we made it this big.
In the image below, it appears that the lip rests on top of the cart, which was in our initial plan. Instead of doing this, we placed the lip on the outside of the cart and it attached to the frame with the
Boxing Out the Top
This part of the cart was a last minute addition as we realized we could utilize more vertical space. We used the last bits of our plywood and continued to use decking screws to attach it to the frame. We considered turning this into cubbies on top as well but decided to keep it as one open space as we figured we could add walls inside later on if we new specific objects we would like to store there.
Josh and Sydney are life adventurers that love to learn and create. We are exact opposites and enjoy gaining new perspective. Our home is where our varying personalities shine, and we use it to gather our friends and family together.