About: Architect

This project has evolved over the last few years. I wanted a cart to carry all of my surf fishing gear and beach paraphernalia. I had seen other people with such carts, however, they seemed to be for solo operators whereas I always had my kids gear to tote to the beach as well. I just needed something bigger and cheaper as well.

Today's cart is also a trailer for pulling behind my beach bike, as shown in the photo, however, there is a handle for pulling by hand indicated later in this Instructable.

Link to bike project:

Step 1: Basic Frame

The basic frame is constructed of 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" aluminum angle. That's what I had laying around.
I figured what the overall dimensions I needed for my large cooler, tackle box and a large bucket for the basic frame rectangle.
The corners were clamped tightly, then drilled and screwed. This seems to be adequate for the connection after several years.
I added a length of angle across the frame near where the axle would go, for added stiffness.

Step 2: Handle

For the handle, I used a length of electrical conduit, EMT to be specific.
I ran the length of the frame, underneath and then used a conduit bender to get the curvature I needed.
I hammered the conduit a bit flat along the length under the frame so that it would have less of a tendency to roll, then drilled and screwed it to the frame at the front and back.
I used machine screws with wing nuts here so that the handle could be removed for transport.
I added two narrow aluminum straps from the handle to the front frame member as diagonal braces, also attached using machine screws with wing nuts.

Step 3: Platform and Axle

For the platform, I was lucky enough to have some sections of heavy gauge aluminum grating from a railing project at my office.
I suppose there are a lot of materials that can be used for the bottom of the cart, they just need to let sand and water through and be lightweight.
The axle is just a length of steel bar I got from the hardware store. Mine is actually a little smaller in diameter than the holes in my tire hubs, but I correct that some year. A little wobble doesn't affect the performance.
I just drilled holes in the side rails of the frame and slid the axle through. Note how the intermediate support also keeps gear off of the axle. Was that planned? I don't remember. But it works.

Step 4: Constructing the Cage/Basket

For the cage or basket around the cart, I used PVC conduit.
There are 4 vertical posts which also act as rod holders, made out of 1 1/2" ID pvc conduit.

The rail members are all 1" pvc conduit. These are straight lengths and prefabricated radiused corners. The radius sections have a flared  flange one end, which receives the straight sections. Where no flare is provided, the conduit sections are connected with couplers. Fixed connections are bonded with pvc glue.

The 1" conduit side rails were coped with a bandsaw to nest snugly around the outside of the 1 1/2" posts. The side rails were then bolted to the posts with machine screws and lock nuts. A larger hole was drilled on the outside of the post to allow the bolt head and screwdriver to fit through so that the inside face of the post is the only part bolted to the side rail. This allows the post to remain clear for rod handles and other vertical elements you will carry in these tubes.

The radiused sections are bonded to the side rails. In the end you should have two sides, each consisting of 2 posts and 3 rails (using 2 radiused sections per rail). Cut slots in the bottoms of the posts with a circular saw, bandsaw or jig saw, to fit over the upturned leg of the angle frame rail. Fit the two side assemblies over the frame rail angles to determine the length of the short pieces that will joint the two sides together. You will need 3 small straight sections each at the front and rear of the cage. These do not get bonded if you want  to break down the cart for transport. These short pieces fit into the flared ends of the radius sections.

Drill holes through the posts, such that they also go through the upturned angle frame rail. The post will be connected to the frame with long machine screws and wing nuts. Because the posts are secured at the bottom, the short connecting pieces between the radius corners will only need to be secured at the top rails. This is done by screwing pan head screws through the flared end and into the short section.

Step 5: Wheels

I got my wheels at my local lawn tractor store. They had a bunch of old wheels/tires sitting out back and I picked a pair that looked to be the size I wanted. The wheels had a hub that took a straight shaft of about 1/2" diameter.

The axle was drilled to accept a retaining pin at the end. I then cut a piece of aluminum tubing to act as a spacer between the frame and the wheel. This was necessary to get the required tire clearance from the frame. A large washer was installed between the spacer and hub and another washer on the outside of the hub between the hub and retaining pin.

I did this setup on one side and then measured the projecting length of axle so that I could cut the other side and repeat the process over there.

Step 6: Auxiliary Handle

I made an extended handle that turned 90 degrees in order to make pulling the loaded cart through sand easier.
This was a piece of EMT that was smaller than the main handle and fit right inside. I bent it with a conduit bender, added an inner tube wrap for comfort grip and bolted to main handle with machine screws and wings nuts.

Step 7: Support Leg

I made a support leg to keep the cart level when parked at the beach.

It consists of a section of pvc conduit with the bottom end cut at an angle to insert into the sand.
The top was coped to fit the radius of the handle.

I cut a toe strap for bicycle toe clips and screwed each cut end to opposite sides of the support. When the toe strap is cinched down tight, it secures the handle to the top of the support leg very nicely.

make sure you cut the support leg long enough that you can insert at least 6-8 inches into the sand to provide a stable support.

Step 8: Cutting Board

I got a plastic cutting board from the dollar store or somewhere. It is about 8" x 12" or so and has a channel all around the perimeter.

I cut a circular hole in one corner of the top to fit a plastic container that the bait shop uses for clams. It seems to be a pretty standard plastic container size. Within the channel at the perimeter of the cutting board, I drilled some drainage holes and also a slot for my bait knife.

I secured a piece of aluminum angle cross member to the bottom of the board by heating screws and screwing them right into the plastic (like buttah).
Another piece of angle was secured perpendicular to the cross member after first hammering it to fit within the 1 1/2" ID pvc post

Step 9: Trailer Hitch

I also made an attachment to convert the cart into a trailer.

A 2" x 2" steel tube was welded to a swivel caster. The caster wheel was cut square and drilled to fit a hitch pin on my bicycle trailer hitch.

Step 10:

Also see my newer fat single tire trailer here:



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    28 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I’ve been looking for this concept for several days to be used as a garbage cart. I have to bring three large garbage bins down the end of a street which always takes two trips. I think I can modify this design for that. I didn’t want to use wood since it will be outside. My idea: use an old metal bed frame which is steel (cheap metal but heavier). Do you think your cart using aluminum frame 3’x7’ would hold 200 lbs.? Probably. I also will have to decide on single versus dual axle. Probably dual. It would need to be low to the ground or have back ramp.

    Thanks for the idea! Good starting point.


    3 years ago

    I'm having a hell of a time deciding between single or double wheels or placement of the hitch. Side of bike or by the seat. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I believe you stated that you built the single wheel cart because you had difficulty pulling this one through the sand. Did the tires not work well in the sand? I am in the process of building a similar cart but it will be pulled by hand not a bicycle. I ended up finding similar wheels and tires to what you have on yours. Before I get too far I want to know if I'm wasting my time. Any feedback would be great. Thanks.

    4 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm thinking a larger diameter wheel will do better for the heavier load. Harbor Freight has 10" and 13" pneumatic wheels for fairly cheap. Smaller tires get caught in soft sand easier. Good luck.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The single wheel was much wider and larger diameter which made travel across sand easier for the large loads I was carrying.
    The single wheeled cart also had a smaller payload area. This cart had a fairly large payload area, much larger than the surf-fishing hand carts I have seen. Larger area means I'm going to carry more stuff, just because I can.
    The smaller wheels would work fine for a smaller (more normal size) cart.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I appreciate you taking the time to reply. Thank you. I have been told, several times, that I don't do anything small. I guess I figure if I'm going to take the time to do something I might as will go big with it. My intent for the cart that I am building is for it to be able to carry a large cooler, fishing poles, fishing gear, beach chairs, etc. So it will probably be larger than a "normal" size cart. I have seen the (expensive) smooth, balloon type tires and wheels online. I am trying to build mine on the cheap. Under $50. Is your cart very difficult to pull through the sand or only kind of difficult? I am hoping that my wife will be able to pull the cart by herself if she decides to go to the beach on any given day without me. Thanks again for your reply and the information.


    5 years ago on Step 9

    Using the swivel caster is genius! I'm going to convert my parent's old adult trike into a trailer. My concern was the turn radius, as I lean on my bike in the turns. Simply hooking the front forks of the trike to the rear forks of my bike won't do. I'll have to try this swivel caster idea! Thanks for a well-documented instructable!


    6 years ago on Step 9

    that hitch is utterly brilliant, wonderful job.

    It's all wonderful.
    But the square caster as a trailer hitch is legendary.
    As is hairspray as rubber glue.
    Thanks for the inspiration.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. It could use some improvements now that I have used it a few years. I'll get to that after my other projects


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Haha, you are so creative! This must be so fun to take to go fishing especially with your kids, they must love you for that! I am so impressed with your gumption to make one!


    8 years ago on Step 6

    Is that black tubing on steel conduit still comfortable when it has been sitting in the sun?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 6

    Not really. It's bicycle inner tube. It gets a little hot, but not so much you can't handle it


    8 years ago on Introduction it possible to get instructions for the bike too?