Introduction: Metal A-Frame Storage Cart
Like a lot of people who make things, I have a constantly changing supply of scrap materials I use for projects.
My scrap pile wasn't out of hand yet but I wanted to tidy things up. So I decided to use some of this junk, to make something to hold the rest of the junk.
The point of this instructable is to show the design and the thoughts behind it, and outline the basics of how it was put together. Hopefully there are some ideas here to help you with one of your future projects.
Thanks for taking a look!
Check your scrap pile for useful materials! Spread stuff out and see what you've got to to work with.
The storage rack/cart I ended up with was made from random items I just happened to have.
This required some basic metalwork and welding, but a cart with similar function could be created out of wood - although it may end up a bit more bulky.
The only things I had to buy for this were some locking heavy duty casters, along with various nuts and bolts.
I have a couple of neighbors that also make things, and we often give away or trade each other left over pieces of this and that. So, when you hear power tools roaring and welders buzzing in your neighborhood . . maybe wander over and get to know these people ; )
Also local free-cycle programs, online yard sales, free local ad listings, etc. are a great place to find random materials for making things.
Step 1: Design
My goal was to create a storage rack that was sturdy yet compact, and preferably adaptable to whatever scraps I may want to store now or at some future time.
I toyed around with several design options that were possible with the materials I had on hand, and in the end realized an A-frame shape made the most sense.
The A is made from pieces of an old adjustable bed frame, with multiple holes so I can put pin-style homemade shelf brackets on it in various places on one side or both, or keep one side completely shelf-less to allow for different types of sheet goods.
Internal shelves within the A provide additional storage space.
The A sits a couple inches inside the base on both sides, which allows longer items and sheet materials to sit securely within the heavy base portion and lean against the A nicely.
The base is 20" by 36" and overall the cart is about 39" tall.
Step 2: Start With a Base
I started with the biggest piece of scrap I had: a 72" inch piece of heavy 3.5" by 5" angle iron.
I cut this in half with a cutting disc in an angle grinder, and welded two heavy metal plates between the ends of the two pieces.
All weld areas were ground to bare metal before welding. I have a Hobart 140 wire-feed welder which I use with argon/CO2 mix shielding gas.
Step 3: Mounting Brackets for Casters
While I could have welded the casters directly to the base . . .
- I didn't want to fuss with trying to grind off or dissolve off the zinc coating to make it safe to weld
- and, bolting them on allows them to be easily replaced if needed
The issue this presents, however, is that I don't want bolts sticking up through the base and being in the way. I wanted the base surface to be smooth and unobstructed so I can slide stuff on and off easily.
The solution was to use pieces of C channel to create mounts for the casters.
These pieces were cut, drilled and prepped to be welded.
Step 4: Weld on Caster Brackets
The caster mounting brackets were welded in place at the four corners of the base.
Step 5: Bolt on Casters
The casters were then bolted in place to the mounting brackets.
Step 6: Have an Epiphany or Two
At this point I wasn't completely sure what the plan was.
I was toying around with these bed frame pieces and test-fitting them in various positions onto the base when I realized, DUH: make an A-frame.
Also at this point I realized two of the four shorter pieces were conveniently full of holes. Drilling a few more and creating matching holes on the non-holey pieces would give me mounting points for shelf brackets.
So I recommend playing around, test fitting stuff, staring at piles of random scraps and just imagining what could be. It's fun and very satisfying when a good solution presents itself.
Step 7: Matching Holes
I used a silver marker to mark the non-holey pieces of bed frame metal to match the existing holes on the other pieces.
Step 8: Drill Holes
I started by punching a dimple in each hole location with a nail punch, then on to the drill press.
Bed frames are notoriously hard metal, yet brittle. Make sure to use a sharp bit, and use proper pressure and drill speed, and perhaps use cutting oil if needed. For best results use a cobalt bit.
A good drilling procedure should remove metal in curly pig tails and not fine metal chips and flecks.
Step 9: Make the As
Two A shapes (or Vs at this stage I guess) were welded together at the points, and then welded to the base of the cart.
An upper cross piece made from the same bed frame material was added to the top portion to connect the two As.
Step 10: A Cross Pieces
Two angle iron cross pieces were added to each A which will support a pair of scrap wood shelves that will be added later on.
To ensure that all of these are level and at the correct heights, scrap wood pieces were used to hold them to the proper location and then they were clamped and welded in place.
Step 11: Prep Parts for Shelf Brackets
This is another part that I toyed around with for a bit till I figured out a good method.
These brackets are all the same and can be bolted to either the right or the left side of the A frame as needed, through whichever hole is facing up.
I used some small pieces of bed frame angle iron and some metal rods to make these. The angle iron pieces were each cut to 4" length, and marked and punched for holes on either end, and one in the middle.
The center hole was done simply to help position the rods for welding, and could reasonably be skipped.
Step 12: Weld Shelf Brackets
The pin/rod pieces were welded to the pieces of angle iron.
Before welding, both sides of the angle iron pieces were ground to bare metal. This stuff is painted with some sort of nasty epoxy-type coating, and the opposite side will still burn and give off bad fumes unless you take both sides to bare metal around where the weld will be.
Some magnets were used to hold each rod in place for initial tack-welds and then removed to complete the weld around the base of each rod.
Step 13: Test-mount the Shelf Brackets
The brackets were bolted in place to test and make sure everything fit as expected. I used short bolts and wing nuts, so they can be removed and moved around easily.
Step 14: Paint
I painted the rack and brackets black and the shelf pin ends yellow.
Step 15: Wooden Shelves
Two wooden shelves were made with various pieces of scrap plywood. This step was far more tricky than it needed to be because I had to piece together multiple small pieces to make each shelf. Each shelf has a pair of rails on the sides that are glued and nailed to the inside pieces to make these stable and solid.
For the larger, lower shelf I had to cut it in half lengthwise to get it into the opening in the A frame where it was to sit, and then glue the two halves back together once they were in place. Some small patch pieces were also glued and nailed to the underside to strengthen this joint.
Step 16: Load It Up!
This is the fun part: load it up with all your scrap materials!
Thanks for reading and if you make something similar, I'd love to hear about it.
Participated in the
1 year ago
Great Idea. I am wondering how you loaded all the scrap metals onto it in step-16!!!
Reply 1 year ago
Ha, thanks! I just started piling all my stuff onto the inside shelves and outside shelf brackets. Just piled it all on! : )
1 year ago
I was debating whether it'd be more efficient to have vertical storage for long narrow things or easier to lift if it's horizontal. I like how your cart is mobile since some of the scraps can get heavy!
1 year ago
Nice work! Good reuse of materials. Only one little frame modification will I make when I make mine, to have the 'back' half be vertical (to fit against the wall better) but other than that, love your ideas!
1 year ago on Step 3
I really like your idea of using the C channel to mount the casters without nuts and bolts sticking out.
Reply 1 year ago
Thanks! I'm just a novice but learning a little with each new welding project. Thank you for your comment! : )
1 year ago
Nice work. Esp appreciated the adjustable shelf brackets and the caster mounts.