Introduction: 5 Gallon Bucket Cart (A.K.A. Excrement Express!)

About: I'm cheap and like to use what I have on hand and I really enjoy taking things apart to salvage parts. Rather than be a precise engineering type of person, I'm more of an enthusiastic tinkerer. Making things i…

With three permamnent resident dogs and the presence of foster dogs on a regular basis we have to clean up the processed dog food in our backyard quite often. And all that feces can get quite heavy when you're carrying it back up the hill. So my wife requested that I make her a cart to assist in the fecal round-up. This Instructable will document how I did it.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

I made the cart almost exclusively from salvaged parts. I only had to buy two carriage bolts. Here is what the cart is made from:

* A five gallon bucket
* Various pieces of scrap metal. Specifically you'll need:
    * Two "L" shaped pieces to make the supports which attach to the bucket.  
    * Two pieces of metal that will serve as brackets for the axle. 
    * A metal rod for the axle. (preferably with notches for E-clips)
    * A "C" shaped piece of metal to serve as the handle.
    * A flat piece of metal to serve as a foot
* 12 carriage bolts with nuts and washers. (Or screws with smooth heads)
* 2 large wheels suitable for off-road use (mine were 6" wheels from a gas grill, but 
   lawnmowers, large trash cans and other yard equipment would have usable wheels.)
* 2 E-clips to keep the wheels on the axle. You could also thread the ends of the axle and 
  use nuts for wheel retention. Or glue plastic buttons on the ends of the axle. (I used this method 
  on my magnetic shop sweeper.)
* 1" diameter dowel rod. (length & number will be discussed later)
* Wood screws

I used the following tools:

* Reciprocating saw with metal cutting blade
* Hand drill
* Drill press
* Various drill bits
* Ratchet with various sockets
* Bench vise
* Level
* Ruler
* Tape measure
* Markers
* Ballpean hammer
* Metal punch
* Dremel with grinding drum
* Dust Collection System (optional)
Drill press dust collection adapter (optional)
* Drill bit sizer
* Deburring tool
* Screw drivers

Step 2: Cutting the Brackets

I used my reciprocating saw to cut the scrap metal I used to make my brackets. I was fortunate that the metal I wanted to cut had notches in the locations I needed to place my blade. If not I would have used a hack saw to make a starter notch. The idea is similar to that of a pilot hole. If you cut a notch for the reciprocating saw blade first it won't jump as much and will make cutting easier and safer. I strongly encourage you to make a starter notch in the scrap metal you need to cut. That being said let's get to the cutting.

I used a leftover component rack from a TV wall mount to make the braces that will attach to the bucket. The rack came in four pieces so it could be sized to fit a variety of components. Two straight pieces and two "C" shaped pieces. In order to make an "L" shape I needed to remove a leg from each of the "C" shaped pieces. To do this I braced the "C" shaped piece in my bench vise and used my reciprocating saw to amputate a leg. I didn't cut through the leg completely. I just scored it very deeply and then bent the leg until it broke free. This way I didn't have to worry about large pieces of metal flying through the air and striking my fragile self.

In order to make the axle brackets I decided to cut the end off of an old garage door bracket so it would become two brackets. When I placed it in my bench vise it began to bend as I tightened the vise. I wanted to avoid this as squishing the bracket would make it useless. I slid a large dowel rod into the bracket. This gave it enough backbone so that I could secure it firmly for cutting. The reciprocating saw took the end of like it was butter.

Once the cuts were completed I was left with ragged edged brackets. To avoid needless cuts (and tetnus shots) for my wife and I, I used my Dremel and a grinding stone to get rid of the dangerous edges. And I contained sparks and dust by using my Dust Collection System.

With the brackets cut and cleaned up it is time to mark the bucket.

Step 3: Preparing and Marking the Bucket

Now we come to the bucket which is essential to the cart (If it wasn't it wouldn't be in the title). To prepare the bucket take off the handle. This is easy to do. You just need to pull one end out of the side of the bucket by lifting up and out at the same time, and then repeating the process for the other side.

With the handle removed flip the bucket over on your workbench/table so the opening faces down. Then lay your "L"-shaped pieces on the bucket to determine where you want to mount them. I was fortunate in that the metal I was using for this had large open spaces in the center. This allowed me to make marks directly on the bucket.

If your metal is soild you'll have to mark the metal and the bucket. I would do this by laying out and marking the metal. Then I would drill the metal (Covered in Step 5) and use it as a template to mark the bucket.

Once the "L" shapes are marked lay out the position of the axle brackets. Place them so they don't interfere with the "L"-shaped brackets. I made sure mine were aligned by running the axle through them. Then I marked the bucket.

Step 4: Attach Wheels for Handle Placement

Now we need to figure out where to place the handle. To do this we will temporarily install the wheels.

Size the bolts that will hold the axle brackets in place. The threaded portion of the bolts I used was 15/64" in diameter. Something I learned from this project is to take into account the neck below the bolt head. If you size to the neck and not the threads the bolt will sit more flushly to the surface and bolt is less likely to turn as you tighten the nut. So I should have used 1/4" holes for these bolts. But I digress...

Drill pilot holes on the axle bracket marks and then drill out the holes to the proper diameter. Push the stem of the bolt through the bucket from the inside so the smooth head is flush with the plastic. Then lace the bracket over the protruding stem. Thread a nut onto the stem and turn until finger tight. Finish tighening the nut with a ratchet and socket. Repeat for the second bracket.

When both brackets are installed feed the axle into place and make sure it turns freely. Then slide the wheels onto the axle. Place the bucket it on its wheels and prop the front end of the bucket up so it sits level with the floor.

When the bucket is level hold the future handle in your hand and stand next to the wheel side of the bucket. Allow the handle to hang from your hand with your arm straight down. Take note of where the lower portion of the handle is in relation to the bucket. Mark this spot as it is where you should attach the handle to make it comfortable for your arm.

While your bucket is level measure the distance between the bottom of the bucket and the floor. This will give you the length of the foot we will mount to the front of the bucket. Write this measurement down as we'll do more with it later.

Step 5: Handle Assembly

OK since we've determined where we want to mount the handle it is time to make that happen. Remove the wheels and axle and place the bucket on your work bench. Put your "L"-shaped brackets back into place and transfer the measurements for the handle from the bucket to the metal.

Verify your carriage bolts are long enough to pass through both the "L"-shaped bracket and the handle. Then determine the diameter of the bolts.

Use a metal punch and ballpean hammer to dent the marks we just transferred. This will keep the drill bit on target. After you have done this install the appropriately sized bit in your drill press. Then clamp the first bracket in place and drill the hole. Repeat this process for the second bracket. When you've drilled both holes clean them with a deburring tool to remove sharp bits.

Put the brackets back in place and transfer the marks to the handle. Then use the same techniques described above to drill the needed holes. Alignment and placement will be a little trickier as the handle is round instead of flat. Deburr these holes as well.

With the holes drilled it is time to bring the handle and brackets together. Thread the bolt through the hole in the handle and the bracket. Then put the washer and nut in place and tighten. I did this backwards. I should have arranged it so the head of the bolt would be up against the bucket. Instead I have the nut in this direction, but it worked out because the metal was deep enough to accomodate the nut.

It was at this point that I discovered I should have accounted for the neck of the bolt (as mentioned in previous step). The bolt kept turning as I tried to tighten the nut. To solve this I had to clamp the bolt heads in my bench vise to tighten things up completely.

Step 6: Handle Attachment

Now that the handle assembly is complete hold it on the bucket to verify the marks you made earlier are still valid. Mine weren't as things got a little off during the drilling and assembly process. So I made new marks with a different color marker. I then drilled pilot holes followed by larger holes for the bolts. This time I accounted for the bolt necks and there was no slippage during tightening.

The heads of the bolts were inside the bucket with the stems passing through the bucket and bracket and the nuts attached on the outside. This was done to reduce the liklihood the bags placed in the bucket will snag.

Step 7: Wheels

Now it is time to get things rolling. Slide the axle into the axle backets until an even amount overhangs each side of the bucket. Then slide a wheel on each side. To keep the wheels in place press an e-clip into the groove on the end of each axle. (Or secure it by whatever alternate means you choose).

You'll notice that my axle brackets have changed orientation. This is because they were sitting so low they hit the nuts.

Step 8: The Feet/Foot

Now that the wheels are attached something has to go on the other side of the bucket in order for it to stand. Recall the measurement we made in step 4? I used this to determine the length of the legs. It was 4.5". So I cut two dowels to this length and used my drill press to drill pilot holes in each end of the dowels.

I then drilled two holes in the bottom of the bucket that would allow the screws to pass through. I used these holes as a template to mark the metal plate that will serve as the foot to support the cart. I then drilled holes in the plate using the method described in step 5. Then it was simply a matter of attaching the foot to the dowels and the dowels to the bucket using wood screws.

And when it was done I ended up with something that wouldn't stand up because the handle was too heavy. So after a great deal of swearing, drinking a Dr. Pepper and a two hour nap I talked it over with my wife. She suggested making the legs shorter as this would cause the whole thing to tip away from the handle and compensate for the weight. She also suggested having a smaller foot on a centered dowel would make it stand better on uneven ground.

At first I just tried shortening the dowels by a 1/2" because I liked the idea of a wide foot. And Mrs. RadBear dutifully tried it out and said, while it was better, the cart was still tipping over. So I cut the dowel down further (now 3" tall) and switched to a single foot. And from my preliminary tests it appears to be much more stable. Yet more evidence I should just listen to my wife to begin with.