Over the years of being traveling and working for some of the best machine shops and manufacturing companies in the USA I noticed things that are very important about being efficient at your job.
One of these little things was tool boxes, some companies provide tools and some require tools to be bought by the worker, but either way have a fast, easy to access tool cart stocked with the right tools for the job. The R&D shop and production floors at Boeing are covered in amazing custom built carts that make the workers life faster and easier when working on the airplanes, here is a example of how I build carts for my aerospace shop.
I have 3 cart designs and its really up to you based on what you do and how you need it but they all use the Industry Standard sized tool boxes.
This Instructable doesn't give any lengths of tubing to cut because not everyone has the same tool boxes and needs so I left it without any details just to not lead anyone to cutting material wrong or anything, this is just a reference Insturctable on how I do it.
Step 1: What You Need....
You will need a few things to make it happen...
1. 20 ft of 1.5" x 1.5" x 1/8" thick square tubing
2. 20 ft of 2" x 1/8" thick Angle
3. ( Optional ) Minimum of 18" of 2x2 square tubing ( ask your metal dealer for a smaller off cuts of 2x2" )
4. Welder, saw set up for cutting tubing and doing miter cuts, and measuring tools.
5. Angle Grinder with various wheels including cutting.
6. Orbital sander ( DA sander / Palm Sander )
7. 4 Caster wheels ( you can use the ones from the tool box to save some money)
8. Plywood or Plastic for shelves
9. The tool box - I used one that is 18" x 26.5" x 34.5" but you can use what ever you got just adjust the sizes of tubing and channel to fit your tool box
10. It never hurts to have some good clamps - I use the Wilton F Clamps and C clamps. The best quality for the money clamps out there.
11. Optional is a vise I used the Wilton Tradesman Vise - a great USA made vise that's lighter weight and super strong.
Step 2: Making the Cut List and Going Over the Details....
One of the main things I always like to tell people before doing a lot of tubing work is - Clean the tube before you start cutting it, it makes life way easier!
This will keep you cleaner, your machines cleaner and prevent you from getting cut later when your trying to clean the tube once they are cut and have sharp edges. Normal Alcohol or simple green can do the trick well to get rid of the oil used to prevent the tubing from rusting.
Next thing is setting up the saw, for this Instructables I decided to use a 14" Abrasive Chop saw as most people use these for cutting metal so its also good to show checking the blade - I use a combo square to check the blade for true 45 degrees.
I then make my first cut - Putting the seam to the inside of the angle is a good idea as well for not only strength but looks after your done, the seam can often be evident once the tubing is powdercoated as a long ridge so that's why I try to put it to the inside of my parts and frame.
Once I have my first cut - Check it to make sure its truly 45 degs and your saw is set up right.
After you have a bunch of the cuts made its always a good thing to clean up the ends with either a belt sander or hand grinder to get rid of any sharp ends or high points that might cause it not to fit up correct before welding.
Your cut list should be taylored to your tool box size but as you can see in the photo I have, It might help also to skip ahead and look at the tool box build steps to get a idea of where the pieces go and how they weld together.
Step 3: The 2" Tube Caps
this is one of those little things that I did to make the cart look real fancy...
I cut some little sheet metal caps for the end of the tube and did a weld to seal it up.
Cut the 2" tube a bit under sized so that once your end caps are on its exactly to size.
I ground off the weld and did a total clean up on the tube to ready it for the next step.
If you don't have the 2" tubing you can use the 1.5" tubing as well and put a end cap on that as well, I just thought the 2" looked neat, you will see in the next steps where to put each piece.
Step 4: Base Frame for Tool Box
Using the 2" tube from the last step and the 2" angle lay it all on the table.
When figureing out the length of the tool box take the tool box size then add the length of the shelf to it.
You should have the 2 longer left and right 2" angle, one shorter 2" angle and 2" square tube, this will be where the tool box sits in to and the extra hang over where the shelves will be, you can make the add on to the end of the cart as long as you want to make bigger or smaller shelves or no shelves at all, its up to you thats why I don't list any dimensions here.
When making the base frame make sure you give your tool box some room to breath and don't try to lock it in to tight, trust me... My first box came back from powdercoating and it didn't fit, give it 1/4" all the way around the box just to make sure it will fit in!
I clamp everything down with the Wilton F clamps and C-clamps, makes life easy for tacking and getting it all set up and use a straight edge to make sure the tube to angle is straight and flat.
Once you got good tacks on everything then check it for squareness from corner to corner at an angle. Checking it from the left corner to the opposite right long wise is very important to checking squareness, if this isn't very square your tool box may not fit....
Step 5: Making the Top Workbench of the Cart
it may seem like were skipping around a bit building it but this is the best lay to make sure you keep everything square and the finish work looking great.
Using the shorter tube sections that are designated for the top lay them out on the table and clamp them down.
Tack weld all the joints and then check it for square across the corners at an angle.
I noticed that my box I welded was not square so using on of the Wilton F-clamps I have which is perfect for making frames because it comes with these replaceable clamp jaws I squeezed it across until the measurements were right one the money.
Once you got it square go ahead and finish tacking and then doing all the final welding. After that finish the grinding and clean up on all the welds on this small frame. Its way easier to do clean up on it and get it looking good now then when its a full cart and your trying to move it all around.
Step 6: Connecting the Bottom to the Top Work
Now to start making it look like a cart..
Next step is to add the vertical tubes off the 2" tube and the U shape piece that sits inside the frame base.
I tack weld it all up and make sure everything is square, this is starting to get important for squareness because at this step if the tool box gets put in you will see if its not completely vertical 90 degrees to these verticals you just put in.
Step 7: Mounting a Vise
this step is optional but I recommend it.
Using the Wilton Tradesman Vise I found a good spot where it would swing both to the front and to the side of the cart making it easy to work on all kinds of sizes of stuff.
The Wilton vises are great because they use 4 bolts holding it down for strength and also they are a still USA made!!!
This last photo you can see the 45 degree piece of left over tubing I used to put in the top to put on the vise. Other options include using a piece of steel angle or plate. I just used tubing because it was left overs.
Step 8: Shelves and Other Options!
Using all the left over 2 inch angle I decided to cut it in to pieces to make in to shelves. The great part about using the 2" angle is that you can buy clear compartmental boxes ( people use these also for fishing tackle) from Mc Master Carr that fit great in to them and if you need more height for a bigger object you can just remove shelves or objects to get more height. These photos are from another cart I built with more shelves but just showing you that you can make it as custom as you need or desire for the application, you could even put a cord reel in there!
Step 9: Painting and Finishing
not much more then just test fitting the tool box before you decide to paint it or powdercoat it to make sure its not to tight and fits in good, This shows my finish box with the selves used to sit at the Bridgeport mill with the tool holder shelf I made for it.
Make it your own, have fun with it and make it awesome, nothing better then pushing around a awesome piece of your craftsmanship and benefiting from it!