Introduction: Refinishing a Salvaged Utility Cart

I found this utility cart in the dumpster at my apartment complex. It was a little cracked and beat up, so I decided to paint and reinforce it.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

1) Salvaged Utility Cart
2) Power sander
3) Screwdriver
4) 80-grit sandpaper
5) 220-grit sandpaper (suggested)
6) Painter's tape
7) Paint brushes
8) 8 oz Interior Paint Sample - Benjamin Moore Jet Black
9) 8 oz Interior Paint Sample - Benjamin Moore Cool Blue
10) 3" x 3/8" x 36" board

Step 2: Disassembly and Sanding

After wiping the cart down with some disinfectant wipes (which I suggest for all dumpster salvage), I started disassembling it. The particular steps will vary depending on what you have, but in short I removed the screws and brackets until I had all of the pieces apart.

Once the pieces were separated, I used a power sander and 80-grit sandpaper to clean up the surface. If I were going to do it again, I would follow that up with 220-grit sandpaper to give a smoother finish than I ended up getting. I neglected to take any pictures of the sanded pieces, but I essentially sanded the veneer off of the faces and left only the smallest layer on the edges to prevent the paint from being soaked up too much by the edges of the particle board used to make the cart.

As with any project, be sure to use the appropriate safety gear. If you plan on sanding with a power sander, be sure to use a face mask or respirator along with some eye protection.

Step 3: Painting

We painted the sides and trim pieces in jet black. 

For the shelves and top we painted the faces in cool blue. After that had dried, we masked the blue portion with painters tape and painted the exposed edges black. Due to the poor condition of the particle board on the edges, we had to go back in with a small watercolor brush to do some final touch ups.

Step 4: Reassembly and Reinforcement

After all the painting was finished, I reassembled the cart. I noticed it was still a little wobbly, so I decided to add a brace to reinforce it. I had a piece of 3" x 3/8" that I cut to the width of the cart. I attached this into the back using four screws after drilling 1/8" pilot holes to prevent cracking.  I will probably paint it at some point, but for now I'm leaving it its natural color.