Introduction: Apocalypse-Proof Laundry Cart
In this 2-part video series, I go through every step to make a one of a kind laundry cart that can double as a utility cart that will last into the apocalypse. I over built this cart on purpose to practice skills and to ensure that I never have to buy another laundry/utility cart ever again for the rest of my life! Keep reading to see how I did it and don't forget to go watch the videos of the build!
- Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure- https://www.amazon.com/Stanley-33-212-12-Foot-Powe...
- FastCap Long Nosed Pen- https://www.amazon.com/FastCap-Pattern-Chisel-Mark...
- Jet Horzontal Bandsaw- https://www.amazon.com/JET-J-7020-Horizontal-Bands...
- Machinist Square- https://www.amazon.com/SQUARE-MEASURE-LAYOUT-PROJE...
- Edwards IronWorker Machine- https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&...
- Jet Disk Sander- https://www.amazon.com/708433-JDS-12B-1-Horsepower...
- Strong Hand Tools Welding Table- https://www.amazon.com/Strong-Hand-Tools-BuildPro-...
- Lincoln Mig Welder- https://www.amazon.com/Lincoln-Electric-Wire-Feed-...
- DeWalt 4 1/2 Grinder- https://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DWE402-2-Inch-11-Amp...
- Ryobi Random Orbital Sander- https://www.amazon.com/Ryobi-RS290G-Single-Corded-...
- Industrial SandBlasting Cabinet- http://www.tptools.com/USA-979-Abrasive-Blast-Cabi...
- Simple Green Cleaner- https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Green-Building-All-P...
- Prismatic Powders "Miami Teal"- http://www.mitpowdercoatings.com/pp-miami-teal-psb...
- Jet Bandsaw- https://www.amazon.com/1-Phase-Metal-Wood-Vertical...
Step 1: Initial Set Up and Prep
To start, I had to collect all the materials. Some was upcycled, some was bought, sadly. I always try and use 100% upcycled materials but I have been looking for steel like this for months and could only find rebar. I did not want this to be a rebar project so I ended up ponying $37 for the square steel. This was the only thing not upcycled and $37 isn’t that bad. Our Ikea laundry cart was trashed after a few months of use so that is the real motivation for this build. You can see in the picture below how I had to zip tie it together to take it down to our laundry room. Gross…
Step 2: Getting My Steel in Line
Once all the materials were selected, I had to lay out the cart by taking measurements and creating a drawing blueprint of the entire build. I did this on a scrap piece of cardboard. No sketch-up needed for this!
Step 3: Cutting the Material to Spec
Once the layout was complete, I went into the metal shop to begin cutting down the square steel stock. I used a horizontal bandsaw because it makes dead straight cuts and is liquid cooled so it cuts better, cooler, and cleaner. This bandsaw is my favorite tool in the metal shop because of how easy it is to use and how much time it saves with its reliability.
Step 4: Always Be Square!
After the bandsaw, I layed out all the pieces to check if they were square and to get a sense of the overall weight of the finished cart.
Step 5: MONSTER MASH
After verifying everything was on track, I cut the last pieces for the project by taking a plate of steel over to the gigantic and scary Edward’s Ironworker machine. This thing is an absolute beast and scares the dickens out of me. It uses hydraulic pressure to shear off and punch holes in steel like a knife through water. This thing is truly amazing. Although I did ask for some assistance because I was a little nervous using it. You can see one of the great shop guys below. Thanks bro!
Step 6: NOM NOM NOM
Below is what the Ironworker did to the steel. Sheared it right off at the exact line I needed. Just a little final prep work to be complete!
Step 7: Watch Your Eyes
Once the steel came out of the Ironworker, I took it to the huge disk sander to straighten out the edges. This thing throws hot steel sparks everywhere and I think I burnt a little patch from the top of my head with an extra long glowing piece. You definitely must wear eye, ear, and face protection to avoid the fumes and shrapnel.
Step 8: A Kill-room You Say?
Once the sanding was completed, it was time to get going on the layout. I used this amazing welding table surface to start the layout in the welding area. The surface is thick gauge steel and has hundreds of deep holes in it that a myriad of corresponding metal clamps fit into to secure your work down to the work surface. I cannot tell you how important a table of this caliber is. Necessary, no. But a hell of a lot better than how I used to weld, on the ground with a single C-clamp. To be precise, maintain good tolerances, and to cut down on movement as the steel is heated and warps, a good clamping setup is a must!
Also, it may look like a kill-room from Dexter, but the blue plastic is there to cut down on exposure of the harmful welding rays to unsuspecting bystanders and sudden blindness. Always a good thing!
Step 9: Getting My "Squirt Gun of the Gods" Ready
After getting myself ready, I had to get the welder ready. We use Lincoln welders in the shop and I must say that I’ve used many welders in my day but this big daddy of a welder is an absolute joy to work with. I don’t have to worry about current fluctuations, improper wire feeds, or nozzle clogs. Simple maintenance is all it takes as Lincoln makes amazing welders.
On the inside flap of the welder is a table graphic with the wire speed and heat setting for most types of metal. Follow these rules closely but not absolutely. There are many variables that can change from what the chart recommends. For instance, for my size steel, the chart had me crank everything wayyyy up. After a test weld, I burned a hole right through the steel like a friggin space death ray gun. So I dialed everything back. Remember, MIG welders are like shooting molten lava from the gods; they get HOT!
Step 10: Always Remember Your Seven P's
Once dialed in, I was ready to get blasting. I love the simplicity of a MIG welder. It is basically point and shoot. The welds may turn out nice or not depending on your skill level, but that is why grinders were invented. To the opposite point, a TIG welder is more like dancing. Instead of a lava-shooting-super-soaker-space-death-ray-pistol, TIG welders are artful. With TIG, you must maintain an appropriate count and beat in your head, alternating feeding in wire and shooting the spot with lightning. It is a two handed affair instead of a one handed spray and pray. All fun but definitely different.
Step 11: We Don't Want Noodley Steel!
I tacked everything together at first to ensure as best I could that the metal didn’t move on me and warp my joints. The worst thing ever is having a wobbly final product because the steel went all noodley on you. So tack weld and then follow it up by giving it the beans (completely welding it). Check for square frequently, like all the time frequently. Don’t let one poorly aligned weld throw off your entire project.
Step 12: Slow Motion for Me
Go slow on the welding. It is not a race. You want the steel to cool before you keep shooting it with more lightning death rays. If you do not, it will literally turn into a large glob of molten lava and could potentially fall into your shoe, or into your glove, or pop off and land in your hair, or even go down…your pants… not like ANY of this has happened to me before…right… Just be careful, go slow and learn from my singed body parts.
After you have made all of your welds and you are still conscious, not bleeding or crying from pain, you can move on to grinding your welds. Now, unless you love that “I am literally building a zombie apocalypse weapon” look, you will need to get out your handheld grinder, a flap disk or grinding wheel and go to town on that mother. Just because this video is entitled “Apocalypse-Proof” doesn’t mean I want it to look like I built it in an apocalypse. Just saying. As with the last grind up above, wear ALLLL of your PPE (personal protection equipment). My wife was standing nearby without the appropriate PPE, despite my many warnings, and I nearly lit her on fire… It is the small moments in life that bring couples together.
Step 13: First Phase Complete
And just like that, zip, zam, bam, the first phase of our project is complete! It took me a full working-day in the shop to get this far. But, after much sweat, a couple blisters, and a few glasses of cold water, I have something that is starting to resemble a laundry cart. To be honest though, this thing could haul hundreds of pounds and not just laundry. Perhaps one day when we move out of our small apartment…
Step 14: Sand in the Place Where You Live!
In the second half, I came back in and sanded all the metal surfaces with 220 grit sand paper to remove any harsh burs and sharp corners. When I go to powder coat the cart, any sharpness will still be felt and that is a no-no for any final product. Soft, smooth corners are the best part of powder coating.
Step 15: All Hail the Lady of the Sandblaster!
Once the sanding was complete, my wife, or as I sometimes call her, “Queen of the SandBlaster-First of Her Name”, helped the process by spending an hour sand-blasting the entire cart. This is the most pivotal process in the entire build. For those who do not know, sand-blasting is the process of shooting tiny beads of media via compressed air. This blasting turns the surface of metal slightly rippled and textured, cleaning the metal down to its most bare form and giving the powder coating a better surface to adhere to. If you do not get every micron of surface clean of dust, oil, paint, rust, and other gooey things, the powder will not stick properly and you can get bubbles or rust under the surface. The proper name is media blasting, not sand-blasting, because you can use many different things to blast away grime such as ground up walnut shells, sea shells, baking soda and a few others.
Sorry for the bad picture of the inside of the powder coating machine. It is impossible to see into the mayhem of sand. You get the point though.
Step 16: Scrub-a-dub-dub
Once my amazing wife was done blasting away the grime, I took it to the large sink to scrub off the sand and give it its last bath before we give it a new skin. I scrubbed it with a steel toothbrush and Simple Green. There are many things you can use to get it clean, I just had this on hand and it worked very well.
Step 17: OH MY That Powder Is Soft!
Here is where things get a little messy… I had one simple job to do, put “Miami Teal” powder into jar. As it turns out, not so easy… The powder is so light and fluffy that when I went to pour it into the jar, it ended up all over the place! As you can see, I wasted some. Good thing I ordered a pound of it!
Step 18: Black Magic Woman... Err... I Mean Machine...
From there, I attached the jar to the machine and hooked it up to compressed air and turned on the electricity. Let me quickly explain how this whole gizmo works because it seems like black magic at first sight.
Step 19: The Mystery Explained
Powder coating works by taking a light, fluffy powder that is infused with a metallic substance and via electric current, pulls the powder into every crack and crevice and distributes it evenly across the surface. The powder is not physically bonded to the surface after it is sprayed and can be taken off easily by wiping it or banging the piece. The entire process is very delicate until you can get it baking. Once baked, it melts into a near impermeable surface that can take a banging without nicking or scratching, hence, apocalypse-proof!
Step 20: Spray That!
The powder was sprayed all over the surface, getting it into every corner and on all surfaces. It is such a fun thing to see, spraying the powder and watching it magnetically suck to the surface. Compared to spray painting, it is a cinch!
Step 21: Time to Bake, Baby!
And just like that, in a couple minutes, the entire surface is covered in magnetically charged powder, ready to be baked into its final form.
Step 22: Always Pre-heat
I pre-heated the oven to the specified temperature and rolled the large cart into the oven.
Step 23: Did I Make a Mistake? NOPE!
After about 13 minutes baking, I pulled the cart out to investigate. I was looking for bubbles and uneven surfaces. Thankfully, the bake was a complete success and I was able to let it air cool before the next phase.
Step 24: To the Bandsaw!
At this point, I had to prep the caster wheels to be added. To do this, I had to make the bases small enough to fit on the steel plates that I welded on to receive them. This took place on the bandsaw where I cut them down to size and trimmed them to shape. I recommend not taking the wheels to their final shape on the bandsaw. It is hard to get them all perfect and you will sand them smooth anyways. So my advice is to leave them slightly oversized and get them to their final shape on a grinder or sander.
Step 25: Once More to the Disk Sander
I then clamped the wheels into a c-clamp for stability and ran them through the large disk sander which smoothed the surfaces and brought them to their final shape. The disk sander makes quick work of the steel burs and ensures all the wheels will be the same size.
Step 26: Please Oh Please Do Not Mess Up
At this stage, I had to cringe and suck up my sadness because I would be grinding away some of the progress I made recently in the powder coating. To properly apply the wheels to the cart, I needed to weld them on. I could not attach them before now because the large over sized oven I stuck the cart in would melt the rubber wheels and burn the grease in the bearings. It is hard to grind off recent hard work, but it was necessary.
Step 27: Back to the Welding Room
From the grinding room, I took the cart to the welding rooms where I attached the wheels in their final places using the mig welder or as I sometimes call it, the “Squirt Gun of the Gods”. This step went very easy, except for only one small fire that I put out with my gloved hand. A plastic bushing got a little too hot… whoopsie! I tack welded all the wheels and then came back and put in carefully placed welds. I had to avoid the surfaces from getting too hot and melting the powder coat or the plastic bushings.
Step 28: I Always Have Time to Dance in the Shop!
When the welding was complete, I grinded the welds a little before I tried it out and had a final victory dance. HORRAY!
Step 29: TA-DA!!!!!
Once the welds cooled down, I shot some similarly colored green spray paint on the exposed welded surfaces to inhibit rust, then cut a small wood scrap to be the bottom of the cart.
And just like that, the Apocalypse-Proof Laundry Cart is complete!! I am very proud of the work it took to get to the end. The process took a long time but I am very happy to see how it turned out and my wife is overjoyed to finally have a reliable piece of heavy equipment in the apartment. If you missed the first part of this build, see the video below or on YouTube!
If you liked this project, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel where you can see the video of this build and many others. I am also on Instagram where you can see behind the builds. Also, please consider supporting me on Patreon so that I can continue to bring these sorts of projects to life and continue to upcycle, reclaim and restore. Thanks for reading!
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