Introduction: Rolling Tool Cart Workstation With TONS of Storage!
I guess you could say I have two workshops. Kind of.
All of my dirty and dusty projects get built outside, in our balcony, since I'm really sensitive to dust and fumes. Woodworking projects produce a lot of dust and soldering projects give me awful nausea from the flux fumes.
I don't mind that. What I do mind, though, is that all of my tools (whether if they're ones that I use only inside, ones that I use both inside and outside, or ones that I use only outside) are kept inside, in my room. When I want to start working on a project, I have to run back a million times to get additional tools... And I HATE that!
- The tools are heavy.
- I want to limit the number of times that I have walk back and forth, so I carry many tools at once. I don't always get a good grip on them, so they fall (and sometimes break).
- Walking back and forth so many times brings dust into the house
- It's annoying.
- It wastes a ton of time, time that could be spent making stuff. And it adds up pretty quickly!
For the past year, or ever since I got more into woodworking, I've been looking for a solution for this problem. I know this might not sound very serious to you, but I have wasted countless hours hauling tools inside, and outside... Inside and outside...
- In the beginning, I had an enormous tool wall that held all of my tools, but if I knew that I'd use one of the tools the next day, I'd leave it on my desk, making a big mess, or just leave them outside, exposing them to the elements. I thought of building a wooden tool tote, but I kept acquiring new tools, and it wouldn't have to be really big, therefore taking up a lot of space when not in use.
- I had the idea of building a portable workstation (Like Benne's or Niskers' awesome ones), but I quickly realized that I was unable to make a one, as I didn't have the large amount of thin plywood that was needed, nor did I have the correct tools. I then thought of building one from cardboard which is a medium that I can source fairly easily, but realized that it wouldn't be strong enough. After a lot of thought, I realized that it would be way to heavy to carry all the way outside anyway.
- So... I found out that a relative of mine had one of those old plastic suitcases (similar to this one). Yay! After more testing, I was happy to see that it had wheels, yet it wasn't strong enough, and I knew it wouldn't be able to support the weight of my tools.
- Well, the best idea that I had was to build an outdoor/waterproof cabinet. This way great for the tools that I use only outside, but wasn't as ideal for the ones that I used both inside and outside. Building it, SPIDERS, and the humidity and heat outside were also big problems. I was about to start making one since it was my best option, but then...
- I found a really big rolling cart in a dumpster for FREE! It has folding tables, wheels (that needed to be replaced), 3 drawers, and tons of room for storing/hanging tools inside of it! I immediately knew that I could keep it the cart inside, wheel it outside when I need it outside, and wheel it back in when I'm done! With only one stone, I've killed more birds that I can mention here (other non-related issues)!
Let's get started!
Step 1: What You'll Need:
Want to make this project? Here's what you'll need, or at least what I used!
For those who aren't able to salvage parts for free, I've added some links to eBay below. Keep in mind that these parts can be acquired at a hardware store, or anywhere else online. If you don't see something that you think should be here, or would like to know more about a specific tool/part that I used, feel free to ask in the comments.
I made it for FREE since I already everything that was needed on hand.
Hardware, Materials & Consumables:
- A cart that has a ton of room for storage inside, a folding top, etc... I found mine for free, but I guess you can find one at IKEA of something like that...
- Wood (Beech, particle-board, & HDF)
- Zip ties
- PVC pipe
- Plastic container
- Accordion trash can
- Bungee cord
- Power strip
- Metal chain
- A cardboard box (or whatever you need to get cardboard)
- Square hooks, bolts, and nuts (for the tool board)
- Drill bit set
Subject/s: Woodworking, Organization, Metalworking
Approximate Time: Hmmm... I have no idea! I've been working on it on and off for more than a month, and will keep upgrading it all that time!
ALWAYS USE PROPER PPE.
Step 2: Choose the Tools!
After, bringing the cart home, analyzing to see what was wrong (uselessly small and broken wheels, screws that needed to be tightened), I opened the folding table and used it to store all of the tools.
I sorted them into groups:
- Tools (and other stuff) that must be on the cart
- Tools that I'd prefer to store on the cart if there's extra space
- Tools that I'd be happy to have on the cart, but aren't as important.
Step 3: The Wheels
The cart had 6 wheels. 4 for the actual cart, and 2 for the pole that pushes the folding table up. I removed one folding table (there is one on each side = 2), but I don't need a wheel on it since the pole doesn't touch the ground anyway, and I don't need extra support since the cart won't be traveling by itself once I open the table.
I needed to raise the cart up a few centimeters for a few reasons, and am aware that this increases the chance that the cart tipping over (which I don't think is high anyway.)
The casters were broken, but luckily my grandpa better ones which I could use. While these are made of plastic, they are way stronger than your average cheap chinesium casters. They aren't perfect, but are worth the fact that I saved $20, at least for now.
After many experiments which were all failures, I had an idea that I thought would work. I flipped over the cart so it would be upside-down, and placed two pieces of melamine coated particleboard on the bottom (under the base).
I drilled a small pilot hole through the metal frame and particle-board piece, and then enlarged ONLY the pilot hole that was drilled in the metal. This makes it so they are not only are held together, but that they're actually clamped together. I had to repeat the process quite a few times as you can see and then screwed in the screws.
I found a 1" thick piece particle-board, and cut it into 4 strips with my jigsaw. The horrible cut quality is (only) partially my fault - please wear a welding mask while viewing the pictures ;)
I flipped the cart over, again, and placed two strips onto the base. I screwed both of them together onto the base, and then placed two more strips, and screwed them together into the second strip. Don't forget to drill pilot holes and countersinks!
I repeated the same process on the other side...
I added a few more screws because I thought those weren't enough, but now that I think of it, if you add rubber between the strips, if would reduce vibrations! Also, if you want to save time, threaded rod could be used instead of all of these screws.
And... Finally - attaching the wheels! I drilled a 10mm hole in each corner (end of the strip) and then enlarged it a bit since it was a bit too small (pun not intended!).
I hammered the casters in with a big hammer (which I will restore in an upcoming I'ble), while using a pad of soft wood for protection.
If you don't have a lot of experience with drilling holes, a homemade 90-degree drilling guide might help to finish the process faster
Step 4: CATASTROPHIC FAILIURE
Apparently, I didn't notice how much the jigsaw shook the table. BOOM! My screw organizer came crashing down, just as I was finishing the last cut.
Ironically, THE CART I'M MAKING NOW IS SUPPOSED TO HOLD STUFF LIKE THE SCREWS ORGANIZER, WHILE MY BIGGER WORKBENCH IS MEANT FOR SAWING AND PROJECTS.
Guess what I spent hours doing just a week before that? Organizing and perfecting the screw organizers!
6 Hours later, the screws were re-sorted, and returned to a point where I could use them, although it still needs a lot more work.
Step 5: A Few Small Upgrades
I removed one folding table, and cut the bottom of its holder shorter (I have no idea how I can call this), as I also mentioned in a previous step.
I also added a net/mesh that I also found (until then I was wondering what it was supposed to be used for), so I could place heavier tools on top of the base. Especially my step down transformer that I use for my Dremel and Jigsaw, which is quite heavy.
Step 6: Mounting the Tool Board
For the tool wall, I decided to use a nice piece of melamine coated particle-board board that I found only a few days earlier. After cutting out a few notches with a hacksaw since it was a bit too big, I clamped it onto one side of the inside of the cart, zip tied it, and then screwed it to the frame with the same method that I used for the base.
What I also like about it is that it acts as a stop for the drawers, so they don't slide in too far.
Making the tool holders and adding the tools themselves will happen later, as I will be adding more tool boards.
Step 7: The PVC Drill Holder
My corded drill (used for driving screws) can stand up on its own, but my corded drill (used for drilling only) can't. It keeps getting in the way, and I want a small "cubby" like thing that will hold it, so I can put it back easily after use. I came up with the idea of using a really wide PVC pipe, drilling and screwing it into the frame. You'll need to find the angle that feels comfortable to you, and that doesn't press on the trigger.
I've seen a few similar versions of these holders online, but not only is this idea so simple, it... It... It's awesome! I love it!
To hold the chuck key, I glued a magnet to the top with CA glue, but that happened only after I had accidentally squirted it everywhere - the table, the floor, my clothes. Ooops! ⁽ᴵ ᶰᵉᵉᵈ ᵗᵒ ᶠᶦᶰᵈ ᵃ ᵐᵒʳᵉ ᵘˢᵉᶫᵉˢˢᶫʸ ᵃʷᵉˢᵒᵐᵉ ʷᵃʸ ᵗᵒ ʰᵒᶫᵈ ᶦᵗ⋅⁾
I̶ ̶m̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶a̶d̶d̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶p̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶h̶o̶l̶d̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶c̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶u̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ (tested and not needed)
Step 8: INSANELY Lazy Man's Drawer
I drilled and screwed 6 right angle hooks from the bottom into the tabletop so they would hold a small plastic container, and allow it to slide out like a drawer. I will use this as a temporary holder for all of my files, and stuff that I still need to learn to use like my chisels and hand plane.
I challenge you to find a lazier workshop improvisation!
(This needs to be improved, and has been removed for now)
Step 9: A Trash Can!
I wanted a trash can on the cart. Even a small one. A few months ago, I found an accordion shaped plastic trash can, never used, in its original packaging. I decided to use it, and attached it to the cart with a bungee cord, making it easy to remove once it fills up and needs to be emptied.
Fun fact: it says on the bottom that it's made of #2 PP. High-density polyethylene, but polypropylene?What?
It's actually pretty strong - you can see that it holds up fine even when I put some junk in it. ᴼᵏ⋅ ᴺᵒ ᵐᵒʳᵉ ᴹᵃᵗᵗʰᶦᵃˢ ᵂᵃᶰᵈᵉᶫ ʰᵘᵐᵒʳ ;)
Step 10: Power Strip
If there's one thing I hate, is a lack of power outlets - unplugging something so I can plug in something else. I zip tied a power strip to the frame (on the other side of the tools wall) and then screwed a screw through the tool wall, just so the strip will stay in place.
I do want to replace this one with a power strip that has a built in switch inside, though.
Step 11: Some More Small Modifications
Remember when I removed one folding table because I thought I wouldn't need it? I didn't remove the swiveling holding thing because I thought it would weaken the structure of the frame, and I also wanted to install a sliding cardboard tool wall (dropped that idea). I removed it now because it was bothering me, and didn't let me access that tools as easily as I wanted.
Since it (kind of) stopped the tools from (maybe) falling out (I don't know), I screwed in a metal chain from both sides, but you can use some string rope.
Though I think a chain looks better.
Step 12: A Cardboard Tool Wall!
I wanted to add more space for hanging tools. I wanted it to be strong, but didn't want to cut up a ton of wood. I decided to go with cardboard, which is also great because it's lightweight.
I cut up 2 (sheets? Hmmm... Pieces?) of cardboard to the dimensions that were needed with a knife. I drilled a few holes in the cardboard and secured it to the frame with zip ties.
There was some space behind the drawers, so I screwed in an HDF board that was already the perfect size.
Step 13: A Tool Board With No Tools?
After a long break from the project, I think it's time to make the tool holders, and load up the tools! I decided that I don't want any fancy holders - just good enough.
No documentation because it would just be confusing with everything moving around. I also didn't want to spend a lot of time on it because I keep replacing my tools, and, well, see the links below. Many of the have been covered over there before.
Perhaps you might like:
Or maybe even what came later!:
Step 14: Extension Cord Mount
The extension cord kept getting in the way so I eliminated the problem with 3 screws, which are used to coil the cord around them.
Don't tell me this is an electromagnet!
Step 15: Drawers!
As you might be able to see, these drawers were already part of the cart, but I just want to share what I use them for.
The first one currently holds my hot glue gun and camera when I roll the cart outside.
The second one holds my leather work gloves, and safety glasses and goggles, which makes them easy to get to (hint: laziness)
And the third one holds all sorts of small things, such as sandpaper and hole saws that I use fairly rarely, yet only outside. Also CA glue, a sharpening stone, a paint brush, and vaseline that works amazing for reducing the friction on hand saws.
Under the drawers, there were two weirdly shaped metal rods, that I was told were used to hold wine bottles. I cut and ripped them out with pliers, and now the place is used for my soldering supplies. Soldering iron, and WAVE - the world's best helping hands vise for soldering.
Step 16: DONE! | More Thoughts | Video!
Some more thoughts:
- If I buy a metal drill press (maybe even my homemade one) I might store it on the top, making it easier to haul outside.
- Instead of carrying the very heavy SpectrumLED V2.0 outside to the balcony, I can mount it onto the cart and wheel it outside, well, just like the drill press!
- Future dust collection - I will be able to mount my dust collector/air filter onto the cart. This will probably be built in an upcoming I'ble or Youtube video...
- If I manage to repair my computer power supply powered drill, I could mount it straight to the workbench! That would be awesome!
- Add a cup/ water bottle holder?
- Add an LED strip on the inside, to light up the tools?
- Make a holder for my Dremel like the one that I made for the drill? Maybe from PVC too.
- Hang the safety glasses on a hanger like the Eye Glasses Wall HangertriSquare Tek made? Maybe, since the drawer does hold them well.
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