Introduction: D'UGLY CART - a Rolling Tool-Caddy From Scrap

Make a handy, portable tool-caddy out of discarded items. Perfect for folks who don't need a full-blown shop-cart, but have outgrown their artist's taboret.

I do a lot of different types of projects - nothing very big or serious anymore - but in a wide variety of mediums and styles. Some are indoor projects, others are definitely outdoor projects.

So what happens when my indoor jewelry project creates a lot of dust, sparks or paint fumes? Or what happens when the "big stuff" has been done outside and I just want to wheel the parts back inside for final assembly in front of the TV (and in the cool air-conditioning)? How can I make it easy to transport tool-sets and materials from project to project?

Well I was trying to clean up the storage shed one day, stacking and arranging to make more room, when I noticed the 5-gallon buckets stacked perfectly into a discarded mop bucket. Then I noticed that the "wringer" slot held several boxes of drivers, bits, wrenches and even a basic Dremel kit. Eureka... let's use that to our advantage. So I grabbed a tool-bucket-apron, loaded it with the most basic "multidiscipline" tools, some seat-padding and bucket of scraps.

Sure, every shop and studio has some kind of rolling storage/worktop, and this one is particularly ugly - but enough people commented that this combo was "clever" or neat" that I decided to share.


  • Cheap
  • Sturdy
  • Portable
  • Waterproof structure
  • Quick switch-out of tool sets
  • Padded Seat
  • Areas for "tool set" boxes like Dremel kits
  • Easily drillable for more attachments
  • Doubles as trash can and (yes) a mop bucket


  • Not good on dirt, gravel or widely-spaced deck planks
  • Too low to be a comfortable seat for some people
  • Be careful getting up from the seat
  • Really, really UGLY


The !!!!!!REAL!!!!! Deal

Laughably simple? Totally inadequate? Just too UGLY??? Then check out these awesome Instructables for help making the good stuff for serious fabricators:

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Old commercial-grade rolling mop bucket (Like this one) or other rolling platform

Don't buy a new one, it's around $50 USD and you can get a pre-made tool caddy for about the same price. The idea here is to scavenge and reuse what you already have. You can also use an old (free) furniture dolly, or build a dolly, or even use one of those round dollies for trash cans - anything that rolls and is being discarded, given away or sold cheap.

5 gallon bucket (plus others)

Again, don't buy one - scavenge some from your local hardware store, restaurant or other makers. I also use smaller buckets for "secondary" toolsets, material bins and even wash buckets. They fit into the 5-gallon bucket easily even when it is wrapped with a loaded tool apron.

Tool apron

Okay, I actually bought mine. But Instructables has a wealth of good tutorials on making your own (start saving those old blue jeans). Check out Doodlecraft's or Bremauntz's or Sarahcarp's helpful tutes.

Lid for 5 gallon bucket

Only necessary if you want a seat or dust cover.

Old mouse pad, EVA or other padding

This is an essential part for me - you might not need it. I had an ancient, but huge mouse pad with a squishy rubber base. But you can use the EVA foam (like from shop flooring or playroom floor kits) or any other padding.

Stick, S-hooks, wheel-chocks (door stop) etc.

I inherited the mop bucket because the handle broke. But you can use that same hole with a broom handle or other stick. The S-hooks work well as quick-swap holders around the rim. The wheel chocks (wedges used as door stops) help keep the bucket from rolling.

Maybe a drill and bit, plus nuts and bolts to attach other fittings. The mop bucket is made from a sturdy, thick plastic - I would liken it more to Delrin than PVC but I don't know for sure. It can be drilled easily and other fittings attached.

Oh, and some tools...

Step 2: Assembly

Ummm, the basics are simple - the variations infinite - so make it work however you need:

  • put the tool-apron on the bucket
  • put the bucket in the mop trough
  • put the kit-boxes and tool baskets in the wringer area
  • hang extras on S-hooks
  • stick other tools in the hundreds of nooks and slots
  • fold the wringer back to get room for larger or taller items
  • put the seat pad on the lid bucket

If you opt for the furniture/trash dolly then you may need to screw down the first bucket to keep it stable during movement.


I had planned to add some permanent modifications, but after using it for a while I discovered their are so many built-in slots, lips and flanges that there are hundreds of options --- I didn't need to drill or attach anything extra. There are already slots and holes and lips aplenty. Some S-hooks and sticks were all I needed to completely reconfigure the cart.

However, if you want even more storage and organizational options you could:

  • Drill a hole and attach a rope for pulling the cart
  • Drill holes in the lip of the wringer for screwdrivers and pliers
  • Drill holes and attach U-bolts for more storage
  • Attach a power-strip for multiple outlets from an extension cord
  • Build a small platform over the wringer for clamps and holders

The plastic feels more like Delrin than PVC, so it's sturdy and easy to drill

Step 3: Usage

I accepted the donation of a broken, dirty mop bucket because I thought it would be handy for cleaning the spoils of rock hunting trips. It was perfect for that - sturdy, waterproof and portable, it even has a drying rack. But I don't do much rock-hounding in winter and the bucket sat unused for months. Then I noticed how well it matched up with other tool-organizers and buckets.

So I decided to turn it into a portable wet Dremel station. It worked really well for that, and for dry projects too.

--- Then I used it to disassemble some rusty plumbing fixtures for a steampunk project.

--- Then I used it to clean some intricate paper cut-outs (no chads in my home buddy).

--- Then some metal snipping

--- Then some Oogru making, (vinegar smell) some wood bending (ammonia) and jewelry (E6000)

By this time I was reorganizing my tools so I could easily switch them in-and-out of the cart. (Eventually I even used it (whisper) "inside the house" almost like a taboret)

Finally, I decided: There is no right way to use d'Ugly cart

However, I do have some basic suggestions

Create some standard tool sets --- for me they are

  • Dirty teardowns
  • Dremel projects
  • Metal work

Put any tools that are common to all the project types into the tool apron and use the wringer area to hold any pre-boxed tool-kits. For me it's hammers, drills, screwdrivers, snips and pliers, measuring devices, lubricants and cleaners, picks and pry-bars and abrasives (sandpaper). The tool kits are the basic and specialty driver sets, a multi-meter some magnifiers and lights plus protective eye/ear/hand and lung savers.

The secondary tool sets for jewelry, paper-crafts etc. were already in carry-baskets, so they also fit nicely in the wringer trough. Things like specialty pliers, mini-clamps, dopping block, punches etc.

Use trays for portable work surfaces.

Use a broom and sticks as a storage poles and steering device, great for extension-cords and hoses

Use other buckets for materials, large tools, and waste disposal.

Smaller buckets slip inside the 5-gallon bucket easily, even with apron sleeve

Also use buckets for water and cleaning, do NOT use the mop-bucket itself

That's it - it may be just a ugly, discarded mop bucket at heart, but it's yours - so use it however you need.

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