Improving a Hand Truck




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 ...

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.



    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    10 Discussions


    6 weeks ago

    Thanks for this smart yet inexpensive and easy to implement solution to an annoying problem! It will come in handy as I down-size and prepare to move. Another useful mod would be to enlarge the handcart's base plate to better support large boxes from the bottom. I find a low four-wheeled flatbed dolly helpful to move storage bins, desk, dresser with legs, and other items that don't fit well on the handcart base.

    I appreciate useful and innovative projects like this, that don't require high-tech or costly or very skill-intensive shop tools that at my age and with little workspace I probably won't find sufficient reason to acquire.

    I enjoy reading your many interesting Instructables and have benefited from several; e.g., my sturdy old Nordic Track is still running fine after your advice on repairing the rollers, and my treasured fountain pens are all in good order. Thank you!

    1 reply

    Thank you for your comment. In the very late-1990s our church needed a hand truck for moving cases of paper and other things around. I made a hand truck from scrap steel I got at a local yard, and the base was overly large. That helped very much, but, I also added rope with a knot every 4 to 6 inches and a "V" catch to grab a knot. We were not moving at the time, and I had access to a stick welder. A year ago when I needed this solution to a problem, just about all of my tools were already sealed in various cardboard boxes and I had to make do with little more than you might find in a utility room cabinet drawer.

    Thank you for the report on the NordicTrack skier rollers and the fountain pens. I am very happy something I posted has been useful to you. If you read comments on the skier roller cleaning, some official repair guys chastised me for using an unofficial repair to get more life from the rollers. It is also good to hear from someone else about the viability and extra longevity you have gotten from flushing metallic powder from the one-way roller bearings. Practical and inexpensive solutions to real problems are always rewarding. Thank you for reading things I posted, often to document so I remember all of the details in case I need them later, but also to share with friends known and unknown,

    Come on! I've been using a hand truck for years and it never NEVER!!! occurred to me to put the hooks through the loops to make it lie flat!!! 8\

    Good thing you didn't patent that move, you'd have made a mint! :D

    1 reply

    Benjamin Franklin decided not to patent his ideas, but wanted them to be available for the benefit of all. Thank you for the compliment. Mostly, I did not want to be pulling up the strap each time I wanted to grab and move a box, like a slipping pair of pants without a belt.

    I would put the ratchet mechanism on the back of the hand truck, and leave the hooks free. That way you can hook the straps around the box, and tighten up.

    1 reply

    I also used this to hold some pieces of furniture to the handcart. Joining the hooks as you suggest means they do not lie flat against the surface of the furniture, but present something that can make a dent.

    love it. I recommend making a nice hook for it instead of duct tape,

    1 reply

    Thank you. As I mentioned, we will load our rental truck very soon. Anything I could use to make a nice hook and the tools to make it are already packed and inaccessible. A nice hook will need to wait until later. This is the very best I can do for now.

    Likewise, I purchased a hand truck from Craigslist for $20 and added "bumpers" so as to protect table surfaces and cabinet edges, etc. from abrasions. Using cheap cotton clothesline, simply wrap several times around the frame in several places and you've eliminated the need for blankets and padding. As it is obvious, by spacing two wraps close together a pinched metal strap can be added between to give the same utility as your clamped arrangement too.

    I moved our entire household by myself and unloaded it also, I used a 'Pod" and so could take my time and do no lifting since it is at ground level. Give 'em a call when ready and they transport, store if needed, and deliver to the new address. Saved a bundle of money ☺

    Hand Truck 1.JPGHand truck2.JPG
    1 reply

    Thank you for your comment. Almost everything moved with the cart is boxed. I had thought about carpet for a cushion, but we have already boxed most of our normal raw materials. It is like living in a hotel room. We are signed up for our own rental truck. My barber talked about the Pod her boyfriend used. He did not like waiting for a truck to load the Pod and go on the road after the Pod got to their yard.