Introduction: Improving a Hand Truck

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…

I needed to position things we will load onto our rental truck for a move to a new home in another state. I bought the least expensive hand truck that felt reasonably sturdy. I discovered I would like to make the hand truck easier to use and more secure by adding an adjustable strap. I would normally look on this as a welding project, but most of my tools are already packed.


  • 4 one inch hose clamps
  • 2 finish nails three inches long
  • Nylon strap with ratchet tightener
  • Duct tape
  • Wire


  • Hammer
  • Anvil or an acceptable substitute
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver

The photo shows the nylon strap placed around a heavy box.

Step 1: The Problem

Boxes, especially moderately heavy boxes, want to tumble off of the hand truck unless I want to perform a balancing act and try to hold the box on the cart while tilting the handle of the cart backward. Notice in the photo the rear portion of the box is rising from the floor, but the front still rests on the floor. This could lead to breakage for a box of dishes.

Step 2: Connect the Strap Sections

For ease of use I want the straps firmly connected to one another. I placed each hook through the sewn loop on the other as you see in the first photo. In the second photo I have taped this to one of the cross slat braces on the hand cart about 15 inches from the floor. This is a good distance for most moving boxes: low enough for the small boxes and not too low for the large boxes. Taping keeps the straps from sliding left or right.

Step 3: Hold the Strap at a Good Elevation

Maybe in a pinch taping the strap hooks to a slat would be adequate, but I wanted the strap to pass through metal loops. Since my welding equipment and drills are unavailable, I decided to make metal loops by flattening the ends of long finish nails and securing them with hose clamps. Such an arrangement is also easy to remove or to reposition.

Step 4: Flatten and Bend Finish Nails

I have a short piece of railroad track I sometimes use as an anvil. I pounded one end of a 3" finish nail to make a flat about 1/2" long. I will do the same with the other end, but want to be sure both flat sections align and rest on a flat surface. I held down the first flat area with a finger while I pounded the second one flat. Be careful. Shaping steel like this produces heat. Let the nail cool a little before making the second flat.

See the second photo. I bent the nail to raise the center section so the nylon strap can pass easily. I used a simple pair of pliers.

Step 5: Attach the Nails to the Hand Cart

The flat ends of the nail fit between the tube on the cart and the hose clamps, as in step 3. Begin to tighten the hose clamps. Adjust their position so the tips of the hose clamp screws to not put pressure on a piece of furniture you might carry with the cart.

Step 6: A Hanger

Strap catching on the wheels or the ratchet mechanisms flopping around make annoyances. I found some light steel wire I twisted together and bent it to make a hook. I used duck tape to hold it on a cross slat. The ratchet mechanism catches on it. The strap hangs on the ratchet mechanism handle.

To use:

  1. Stand to one side of the box and hand cart. Place one hand on the lower cross slat on the cart. Grasp the far side of the box with the other hand and raise it just a little. Slide the hand cart under the box. Release everything.
  2. Feed the long piece of the strap around the box and through the slot in the ratchet mechanism. Begin ratcheting the strap tight. (There was more strap than I needed. It got in my way. I cut the strap for the largest item I will need to lift with the hand cart and used something hot to keep the nylon fibers from fraying.)
  3. Gently pull the top of the hand cart toward you. Brace the axle with your foot if necessary. Wheel your box to where you want it. Gently let it down to the floor. Release the ratchet mechanism. (I am finding the ratchet was slow to release at first, but is loosening up with use.