Introduction: Maker Cart
The Maker Cart is a mobile makerspace designed to be used for hands-on projects in middle and high school classrooms.
This version is designed to interface with the supplies and storage in the Friends' Central School makerspace, allowing for flexible interchange of storage bins and tools from the makerspace as needed for specific projects. For a school without a dedicated makerspace this cart could just as easily fill that role on its own with a more permanent arrangement of tools and materials to serve many kinds of creative projects.
The features of this mobile makerspace include:
- Cover that doubles as a work table.
- Small workstation for laptop and digital fabrication tools (small vinyl cutter or 3D printer).
- Dedicated sheet goods storage.
- Modular bin rack for Arca type storage bins of many sizes.
- Small parts drawers and tilt bins for enclosed storage.
- Magnetic rack for hand tools.
- Cover can be locked to cart, securing all tools and materials.
- Easy rolling large casters on cart and lever action leg jacks on cover make it easy for one person to transport and set up.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Materials
- Tape Measure
- Drill with philips head screw bit, countersink bit, and 1/8" drill bit
- 1/2" socket wrench or ratchet
- Circular saw and/or table saw
- Corner clamps (at least 2)
- 4-foot pipe clamps or bar clamps (at least 2)
- Small C-clamps or bar clamps (at least 4)
- Rotary cutter
- Plastic putty knife
Materials and hardware:
- #8 x 1" wood screws (approx. 50)
- #8 x 1-1/2" wood screws (approx. 50)
- 3/4" x 1/2" corner braces (approx. 12)
- 5/16" x 1"L flange head lag screws (approx. 16)
- Gorilla Glue or high strength wood glue
- 1/2" VHB tape
- Clear polyurethane
- 2 sheets of 3/4" Birch plywood
- 1 sheet of 1/2" Birch plywood
- Medium duty wood-deck platform truck, 48" L x 30" W
- Bin box storage, wall mount, 36" x 18"
- Small parts drawer cabinet
- Tilt bin
- Magnetic tool holder (x3)
- Toggle clamp (x4)
- Dry erase contact paper
- Self-healing cutting mat, 36" x 48"
- 30" power outlet strip and wiring
- 8" boat cleat
Step 2: Cut Plywood
Using your table or circular saw, cut the following pieces of plywood.
Make sure to plan your cuts in advance to maximize your lumber use.
Cart Divider Walls (3/4" plywood)
- 39-1/2" x 22" (x2)
- 28-1/2" x 22"
- 11-3/4" x 22"
- 11-1/4" x 22"
Computer Shelf (3/4" plywood)
- 38-3/4" x 11-1/4"
- 37-1/4" x 2"
- 11-1/4" x 2" (x2)
Tool Compartment (3/4" plywood)
- 3-7/8" x 22"
- 3-7/8"" x 13-3/4"
- 3-7/8" x 2" (x2)
Workbench Top (3/4" plywood)
- 47-3/4" x 30"
Workbench Sides (1/2" plywood)
- 47-1/4" x 22" (x2)
- 30" x 22"
Legs and Rails (3/4" plywood)
- 48-1/4" x 2" (x2)
- 28-1/2" x 2" (x4)
Trim (1/2" plywood)
- 44-1/4" x 2" (x2)
- 30" x 2" (x2)
Step 3: Assemble Cart Divider Walls
1. Drill 3 countersink divots along one 22" side of each of one of the 39-1/2" x 22" boards. Measure in 3/8" from the edge and space evenly to make it look nice.
2. Apply glue to one 22" edge of the 11-3/4" x 22" board. Use corner clamps to align with countersunk board.
3. Pre-drill with 1/8" bit through countersink divots into edge of adjoined board to avoid splitting plywood with screws.
4. Screw pieces together with #8 x 1-1/2" wood screws.
5. Repeat #1-4 to join the other 39-1/2" x 22" board with the 11-1/4" x 22" board.
6. Measure 11-3/4" along the 28-1/2" edge of the 28-1/2" x 22" board and mark the edge with your pencil. Measure 11-1/4" from the other side of the same edge and mark.
7. Line up the L-shaped pieces you created with these marks and attach using the same techniques you used in #1-5.
Step 4: Assemble and Attach Tool Compartment and Computer Shelf.
Using the same countersink, pre-drill, glue and screw assembly technique from the previous step put together the tool cubby and laptop shelf.
1. Attach the 2" pieces around 3 sides of the bottom of the shelf.
3. Measure from the top of cart walls to the height you want the shelf (based on what you will put on the shelf - we have a laptop computer and Cameo Silhouette cutter).
2. Attach shelf unit with glue and 1" screws through the shelf supports into the cart walls.
1. Attach the 2" pieces to either end of the 13-3/4" piece.
2. Attach this shelf to the 22" long support divider. Determine where to attach based on what you will store in the compartment. (In the example images the cubby is designed to hold a Dremel tool case).
3. Insert into the space between cart walls and attach with glue and 1" screws.
Step 5: Apply Finish and Attach Frame to Cart
1. Before attaching the frame to the cart, apply a few coats of clear polyurethane to the structure you have constructed to help seal and protect the wood.
2. Measure and mark the cart bed to help line up the structure you have just built.
The open end (sheet goods storage) should align with the handle end of the cart. There will be a space at the other end to account for tools and supplies storage mounted to front wall of the cart.
Center the cart frame on the cart bed allowing for at least 3/4" of space on either side of the cart. This is where the lid/workbench will sit when cart is being stored and moved.
3. Attach the frame to the cart using the corner braces and accompanying screws.`
Step 6: Attach Tool and Storage Racks
1. Use lag screws to attach bin box rack to cart. Mount it high enough to account for the height of the bins you will be using. Use clamps to hold it in place while attaching it.
2. Attach plastic drawer unit and tilt bin to front wall of cart. Remove drawers and bins as necessary to mark placement of screws.
3. Attach magnetic tool racks with lag screws.
Step 7: Build the Workbench
4. Glue and screw the workbench front and sides (1/2" plywood) together with 1" screws. You should be screwing through the face of the front piece into the edges of the side pieces (see photos).
5. Glue and screw the top of the workbench (3/4" plywood) to the outer walls with 1-1/2" screws.
Important Note: The joints holding the walls together are very unstable until you attach the top. If you have to move the unit before attaching the top you should do so very carefully and with help.
3. Attach whiteboard contact paper to the three sides. Apply slowly and use a wide putty knife to press out air bubbles.
You can leave up to 1-1/2" uncovered around the edges on the side pieces as this will be concealed by the trim you will attach in the next step. The contact paper for the front should run across the face with no gaps on the left and right, but there can be gaps at the top and bottom.
Step 8: Add Rails, Legs, and Trim
1. Attach the 3/4" plywood rails to the top edges of the workbench. Use glue and long bar clamps to attach them, or screw them on with 1" screws from the inside of the cart if you don't have long clamps available.
2. Attach the 3/4" plywood legs to the edges of the sides of the workbench. The legs on the front end should meet the front edge of the front rail and overhang the vertical edges of the sides. Use glue and clamps to hold these in place. You should ALSO screw them on from the inside of the workbench for extra holding strength when the workbench is in use.
3. Attach 1/2" plywood trim (this is purely decorative) to the bottom edges of the cart.
Step 9: Add Work Surface, Power Strip, and Apply Polyurethane
1. Use a straight edge and electric rotary cutter to trim the self-healing cutting mat to fit the top of the workbench.
2. Attach the cutting mat using double-sided VHB tape around the edges (this tape is very strong and very thin). You can leave a space for the power strip on the front end of the work surface.
3. Apply a few coats of polyurethane to legs, rails, and trim to protect and seal the wood. Use painter's tape to protect the whiteboard surfaces.
4. Wire (if not already wired) and attach power outlet strip to front of the work surface. Attach a boat cleat to the front rail for wrapping the power cord.
I also attached a power strip to the inside of the cart under the laptop shelf for plugging in the laptop and cameo cutter. If you are using the shelf for these or other items that require power, this is recommended.
Step 10: Add Toggle Clamps to Lift Workbench for Cart Storage
1. Attach the toggle clamps to the legs using lag screws.
Attach the clamps at a height so that when they are retracted they will provide adequate ground clearance to move the cart over uneven floors. When extended the clamps should provide enough lift to raise the workbench 1/2" to 1" above the cart so that cart can roll in and out easily.
If your cart will have to travel through doorways that are narrower than 32" you will need to move the toggle clamps to the front and back of the cart legs rather than the sides. (see last photo on this page for that configuration) Use small pieces of 3/4" plywood attached to the legs at right angles to provide a surface to attach the clamps to.
Important Note: The toggle clamps allow you to lift and lower the workbench to move the cart underneath for transport and storage. THEY ARE NOT TO BE USED AS BRAKES FOR THE CART. The cart wheels come with attached lever brakes.