Introduction: Giant Lumber Cart

About: Problem solving through DIY, Woodworking, 3D Printing, & Making.

When I first starting making things, I had no clue how quickly I would accumulate material offcuts, scraps, and extras. A Lumber Cart with enough storage options would both contain the chaos and add much needed organization to material. This particular design includes:

  • Storage for full sheets of plywood
  • Vertical bins for medium-sized offcuts
  • Long horizontal shelfs for full-sized construction lumber
  • Short shelves for smaller offcuts and useful scraps

For more details, please visit my website. If you would like plans for this giant lumber cart, please fill out this form.

Step 1: Cut Primary Support Joinery

When filled, this Lumber Cart will be extremely heavy. Almost all of the weight will be on the bottom frame and vertical supports. Therefore, not only do these parts need to be strong, but the joints between them need to be as well.

The best joint would be a mortise and tenon. For added strength and easier cutting, the mortises will be made from two 2x4's with angled half laps (easier than complete mortises).

Start out by cutting the six vertical supports to size. I used my miter saw, but a circular saw would work as well. Next, cut the tenons at a 5 degree angle. I found it easiest to use a circular saw to cut little grooves, then remove the rest with a chisel.

Once all six tenons are cut, cut the 8 short frame pieces to length. Go ahead and mark these and the vertical supports to identify which pieces will be connected and where. For all but two short frame pieces, mark and cut the half-lapped mortises. I used a speed square to confirm the angle, then matched it on my table saw's miter gauge. On the table saw, clear out the waste by taking many passes and moving the piece slightly. Make sure to dry fit each tenon in each mortise and fix any that are too tight.

Before moving on, go ahead and cut the half laps in the vertical supports. It will be much easier and more accurate to cut these before they are permanently attached.

Step 2: Assemble Bottom Frame

Cut the long frame pieces to size. Then, dry fit the whole bottom frame, but leave out three of the half lap mortise short pieces. Secure the frame with glue and 3" screws. For all screws in this build, I pre-drilled to prevent the wood from splitting and counter-sunk the heads to keep everything flush.

With the frame secure, cut the 23/32" plywood just over-sized. Mark the six slots where the vertical supports will pass through and cut them out with a jig saw.

Secure the floor to the frame with glue and 2" screws. When securing, check to make sure the frame is square. This will be the last point where you can fix this with the frame.

Once the glue has some time to dry, flush up the floor plywood with a router and a long flush-trim bit. This will ensure an absolutely perfect fit.

Step 3: Install the Vertical Supports

Prop up the frame to allow access from both the top and bottom. It will be easiest to place each vertical support and remaining short frame piece next to where they will be going.

For each set of half laps, liberally apply glue to the half lap in the frame. Secure the tenon in the half lap. I found it easiest to use a mallet and some clamps to ensure it was fully seated. Once both sides are done, apply glue to the corresponding frame short piece and secure it with a few 2" screws (I put a screw in each tenon as well just to be safe. Do this for the remaining two pairs.

Before tipping over, secure the 5" locking casters with 2" screws and washers to each corner. Make sure to lock them before tipping the whole piece right-side-up. I also put a screw into each vertical support from the top for extra safety and to prevent movement while the glue dried.

Step 4: Cut and Install Vertical Frame

Cut each vertical frame piece to size. Using the vertical supports, mark the half lap locations. Once marked, cut these out on the table saw.

These are secured in place with glue and 1" screws. Make sure not to drive these in too deep so they do not go through to the other side.

Step 5: Cut and Assemble Top Braces

Cut the short, top braces to length with a 5 degree angle on each side (facing down). Before changing the blade angle, cut a 5 degree rabbet on each side of the braces.

Mark the center of each and use the table saw to cut a half lap in each. Make sure the half lap is on the opposite side to the rabbets.

Liberally apply glue to the rabbets. Use clamps to squarely secure each brace to its vertical supports and secure with two 3" screws on each side.

Take the last vertical frame long piece and secure it to the top braces with glue and 1" screws. With this last piece, the vertical frame is finally complete!

Step 6: Add Shelf Brackets & Shelves

The shelves will not only hold weight, but will help keep the entire frame rigid. Start by ripping each 2x4 in half with a 5 degree angle. The angle will keep the top level and the side flush to the frame.

Mark the vertical support locations on each and where to cut each to length. Using the marks, cut each to length and pre-drill for two screws into each vertical support.

Use glue and 2" screws to permanently secure the braces. Space is tight, so a right-angle attachment for your drill or palm driver will be extremely valuable for installation.

Measure each shelf opening and top to confirm how wide each shelf needs to be. Using these measurements, rip each 23/32" plywood strip to width. Install each to the brackets with glue and 1" screws. The top shelf will get a few additional screws along the middle.

Step 7: Install Plywood Cleat

To prevent the plywood from sliding off the Lumber Cart, a cleat is installed. For the cleat and rail, I don't recommend any glue. This will allow it to be removed if necessary (which I have had to do once already).

The cleat is simply a 2x4 ripped in half. It is secured to the base with 3" screws. The counter-sinks on the cleat are deep. Normally, this would be accomplished with a fostner bit, but a dedicated counter-sink bit will also work.

The rail is the other half of this ripped 2x4. For it, I also rounded over the square edges.In order to cap these rails, I used some scrap plywood circles. These would also prevent the rail from falling out of the supports if moved laterally.

Step 8: Add Plywood Bins

For the bins, I first measured and cut the plywood wall to size. Once it was secured with glue and screws to the uprights, I measured the height and angle needed for the vertical bins. Once measured, I cut the vertical, front wall to size.

I used the angle and measurements to cut the exact angle needed into the bin dividers. This could be done on the table saw with a taper jig or a bandsaw, but I used a jigsaw. Before attaching, drill some pocket holes in the bins.

I attached the two outer bin walls first with pocket hole screws, then attached the bin front with 2" screws to the frame (leave unattached from the bins for now). I attached the interior bins next with pocket hole screws. Use a speed square to make sure each divider is aligned properly.

Step 9: Fill the Lumber Cart!

The lumber cart is now complete! Take some time to think about how your material is going to be organized in the cart. The cart was built to keep all your material organized and easily reachable, don't demean your hard work by cluttering it up unnecessarily.

If you would like more details about the build, visit my detailed build article.

If you would like plans, go to this form.

I would love to hear any feedback you have for me (good and bad). This is my first instructable and I want to improve!