Intro: Lumber Storage Cart With Bottom Drawers
Hi, here's Filippo from Italy!
So... I have a very small workshop. Unlike what you can see in a lot of videos from American makers/DIYers, where big garages or shed are often involved, here in Europe (Italy in my case) near urban areas, it's uncommon to have access to big spaces for your hobby. My workshop it's not different, sigh.
I have to organize well all the little spaces to get the most out of my garage.
Until today, I had two tall metal shelving at the bottom of my shop. Sure, big and sturdy, but not efficient. Wood stored there usually mixed up, and taking out pieces was a real pain.
I decided to create a mixed lumber cart, equipped with drawers, to store all my wood and scrap pieces. I NEVER throw away good scrap pieces, I've made a lot of things with them! :)
Let's build it up.
Step 1: Project and Wood
Start by making a good project.
You can use the classic pencil and paper, but I think that a software like SketchUp is more than useful to better understand the project in his entirety. The basic version is free and has everything you need. I suggest you to spend some time on it, it will reward you.
After sketching your cart, start by listing all the lumber you need.
In my case, I had just 80cm width of space. I've chosen a phenolic pine plywood, a strong wood that is also super resistant to humid places. My shop is well ventilated, but weather can become incredibly humid where I live.
I ordered mine on an Italian website called SicaShop, they provided me with very good quality lumber already cut to all the measurements that I've listed them with really high precision.
That was handy, since I don't own a table saw yet!
Step 2: OPTIONAL: Check All the Sizes
If you, like me, have someone to cut down large plywood sheets for you, it's a really good practice to check all the sizes before starting the project.
Not all the shop are dead-precise with their cut, and that can become a problem in the mid and later stages of your build. Also, this is a good occasion to write down measures and notes on the wood, to easily identify it later.
Friends from SicaShop were super accurate with my cuts, so I can start right away!
NOTE: You'll notice the almost 100% lack of glue for this project. That's because I may plan to unmount this cart in the future, so I didn't want to lock everything forever with wood glue :)
Step 3: Bottom First
The first piece to work with is the bottom of you cart.
I started this project without thinking about some wheels, because the cart will sit in one place, but I quickly changed my mind. You'll see it later ;)
In order to avoid mold and rotten wood, you should provide some space between the cart and the ground. Cart wheels are perfect, but I started the project with some simple wooden feet, cut with a miter saw.
You should use a wood which is water resistant and strong. I've used some scrap lamellar fir wood treated for outdoor and marine use. Easy to work with and sturdy as a rock.
I've applied some Titebond on the feet and secured them with screws.
Step 4: First Drawer
The base structure of the drawer is super simple. It's a box without the top part! :)
I've used standard wood screws and some pocket screws with my Kreg Jig, just to test which one worked better. It turned out that Kreg screws hold more than standard one, but are also more expensive. Well, just like I thought.
First, I've installed the first two sides on the bottom of the cart, then I've built up the basic structure of the drawer.
I then took the long pieces that I'll use as drawer guides. Yes, metal drawers guides are better and easier to open, but these drawers are gigantic and will have a LOT of wood inside. Good metal guides that can take a lot of weight are particularly expensive, so I decided to go with wooden guides. (also, I will open these drawers not very often)
I pre-drilled and countersinked the holes for the screws on the guide, then used another guide as a spacer. With the help of some simple spring clamps, I hold the guide in place and secured it.
With the central guides installed, I've placed the built drawer in and slipped in the top and bottom guides for each side, screwing them in from "inside" the drawer. No need for countersink, here!
The drawer system and 1st floor of the cart is complete.
For the handle, I've just glued and screwed some pieces of scrap pinewood, after rounding the edges with a orbital sander.
Step 5: Second Floor
The same, exact way we've built the first drawer, we will build the second!
It's really just another level, if you don't need a second drawer you can stop here.
Very important: wooden guides are surely more stiff than classic ones. So, you can help them with some sort of lubricant. I've used vaseline, which also provide a layer of protection for the wood. Really made the guides smooth enough to operate them without effort.
Step 6: Wheels
Ok, here's where I changed my mind.
I tried to move the two finished and built drawers around my shop and... my god this is heavy.
I figured out that if I'll ever need to move the finished and full cart in the future, that will be impossibile without wheels.
Choose strong wheels that can take up a lot of weight. They are pretty cheap, I've payed mine 5.5€ each and they are certified for 200kg. When all installed, the cart can support about 800kg of weight, and I think I'll never need all that strenght.
Now it's really functional.
Step 7: Main "box"
For the top part, I've mostly used pocket screws, since I can no longer use regular screws from the other side (blocked by the drawers).
I really love working with pocket screws, it's a super fast way of joining wood together, and pretty strong too.
I've used my jig, screwing from OUTSIDE-IN. This way the screws will go where there's more "beef". The drawback is that pocket holes are exposed, but since it's a workshop cart I don't bother much.
I've made the main "box" of the top part, screwing in all the four sides.
As you can see, the back part is significantly taller: that's because I'll use it to store higher and taller panels.
NOTE: this cart is not built to store large panels, it's more suited to small panels and boards cut-outs. That's because miter saw is my main tool in the shop. You can adjust the sizes of your cart depending on what you need.
Step 8: Internal Sections
Following you project, you can now add internal parts to organize various sections.
My cart will have four small section dedicated to board cut-outs, and one bigger and wider section behind for small panels.
In this step, I've used pocket screws to secure the dividing panels to the bottom, and some regular screws from the outside of the main box for added strength.
By adding two horizontal panels and two perpendicular ones, as you can see on the photos, you'll obtain all the sections that you need.
After securing everything, the structure will become really strong and stiff. You can push and pull the cart from any corner you desire with no fear of damaging it.
Step 9: Done!
Your lumber cart is ready!
It really is a great help to keep everything clean and organized in your workshop.
Also, the two drawers have a massive area of 80x70cm circa in my case, giving me a lot of extra space. You can also use them to store some wider tools that you don't use very often.
Hope you liked this project.
A big ciao from Italy!