Vendor Push Cart




Introduction: Vendor Push Cart

Every June we go to Porcfest. We tend to be more entrepreneurial than social and spend a good part of the time baking and selling. Last year we had a cigarette/candy girl type of tray we carried around, selling homemade cookies and pies. That worked out pretty well but my daughter thought it would be cool if we had an actual pushcart to wheel around the campground, so that's what we decided to make.

With a sawmill and lots of construction projects always going on, there is usually an ample supply of scrap wood lying around on the property. My daughter had a hand-me-down trick bike that she wasn't using, so we took the wheels off of that for the front wheels of the pushcart. With those as our starting point, we got started!

(We've entered this into the Move it & Re-use contests and would love a vote if you think it deserves one!)

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: The Wheels

This is the Fancy bike that was sacrificed for the wheels. Removing them was more difficult than I had imagined. I needed a metric, deep socket wrench to remove the nuts from way inside the bike pegs. There were a LOT of nuts and washers, some of which I was able to re-use for the new axle set-up.

Step 2: The Frame

Next up was to build the frame of the cart.

I wanted this to be able to fit into the Subaru, so I kept the dimensions to within that. I made this (40L x 24W x 28H) Naturally you could change the dimensions to suit your own needs.

I used Primeguard exterior screws, and pre-drilled the holes as some of the wood was kinda crappy.

Step 3: Bottom and Top

The bottom of the cart will serve as a shelf and the top is a platform for making guacamole, serving out pie, and housing the big pot of soup.

I cut a hole a couple inches larger than the diameter of the pot.

I attached the panels to the frame with roofing nails and small wood screws.

Step 4: Shelving

I needed horizontal slats to be able to create my shelves.

I pre-drilled, screwed into the studs, then evened off the edges with a pull saw.

Obviously the pieces are of different widths, but this is for a camping festival and not for pushing through Martha Stewart's neighborhood, so I think its homely yet humble character will be just fine.

Step 5: Color!

We gave it a rough sanding and painted away. They are leftover colors from our woodshop. There is one more color from the grouping that will go on the canopy portion.

Step 6: Shelving Slats

I figured it would be a lot easier to pre-paint the slats before I put them in.

I cut everything to the size and width depending on what was going on the shelves. For the most part it will be trays of baked goodies, so the slats should be sufficient. The one large piece will hold the soup. A custom trivet to house a sterno and keep the pot elevated sufficiently above will be anchored to it.

Step 7: Fix Shoddy Work

Stepping back after it was painted, my construction flaws and "character dimples" in the wood became a little too obvious, so I made a quick putty and filled in what I could without getting too carried away.

The directions on the Durham's can state to use water, but I wanted to mix it with glue instead.

Just because.

Worked great!

: D

Step 8: In Motion

Now it was time to put the axle in.

I found a piece of threaded rod. I assumed it was 3/8", but miraculously some of the 17mm nuts from the bike fit it. And some did not. Yay for silly.

I put a tube in there as a sleeve for the rod. Seemed like a smart thing to do.

I used plenty of washers on the inside and outside. Also seemed like a smart thing to do.

I won't share with you the unsmart thing I did when I hammered the sleeve through the two holes that weren't quite big enough. But I fixed all that so it's like it never happened.

I balanced the other side with little legs.

Step 9: The Canopy

I considered that people who are over 6 feet tall might approach the cart, so I wanted to make sure the canopy was high enough to not eclipse them as they requested a slice of Raspberry Pie.

The lumber for the canopy frame was pretty flimsy. I was more interested in not adding too much more weight at this point. The stretched canopy would give it a little shear strength and then It would be screwed into the cart. I wanted to be able to remove and replace the canopy frame easily, and the resulting light weight was a bonus for that aspect alone.

For the canopy fabric, I used a nice Sunbrella stripe. I hemmed all four edges then stapled it to the frame nice and tightly. The overhang is good; enough to give it some fun factor without creating too low of a visual line.

Step 10: Handle

I decided on a grab bar for the push handle. I used an 18" instead of a 24" as the flanges would have extended beyond the sides. Looks classy! : D

Here's my daughter painting the canopy frame. Looking good!

I bought a piece of pipe insulation to jazz up my pot opening. Be sure to remove the glue sealant strip right before you need it; once it's gone the two edges stick together, like forever. Trying to separate them results in marred edges.

Cut the ends at slight angles to account for the slight difference in outer and inner circumference, as the pipe insulation is so thick.

Step 11: Back Wheels

Most pushcarts have wheelbarrow-type side handles, as you have to lift as you push. That wasn't our design so we needed to find another solution to work with our push handle.

I had removed the wheels from my shop-vac and thought they'd be perfect. I cut small blocks of wood, drilled a hole into them to match the peg size, fed the wheel unit into it and finally screwed those into the legs on the cart.

They work great and have held up so far for initial testing on pretty unlevel and rocky terrain.

Step 12: Headlights!

I used:

~ (1) Flora

~ (2) 12x Neopixels rings

~ 22 gauge wire

~ small pieces of shrink tubing


1. (yellow wire) D12 pinout on the Flora to the data input on the first ring, data output on the first ring to data input on second ring.

2. (red wire) 3.3v on the Flora to both power pinouts on each ring.

3. (black wire) GND on the Flora to both GNDs on each ring.

I measured out enough wire knowing the width of the cart was 24", and to wrap the Flora along the side.

Videorecording LED's can be frustrating, so I placed a piece of paper over a ring to allow better appreciation of the color changes.

// Headlights.ino
// displays a series of colors to two circular 12-light neopixel rings.
// Designed for food cart by cdstudionh

#include <Adafruit_NeoPixel.h>

#define ON_TIME 5 // seconds each color is displayed
#define BRIGHT 50 // percentage brightness. Lower saves on battery
#define PIN 12    // Arduino pin for neopixel data
#define PIXELS 24 // total number of neopixel units

Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(PIXELS, PIN);

struct RGB {
    uint8_t r;
    uint8_t g;
    uint8_t b;

RGB colors[]   = 
    {240, 128, 128},
    {220, 20, 60},
    {255, 99, 71},
    {255, 0, 0},
    {255, 69, 0},
    {255, 140, 0},
    {255, 215, 0},
    {154, 205, 50},
    {0, 128, 0},
    {144, 238, 144},
    {102, 205, 170},
    {0, 139, 139},
    {100, 149, 237},
    {106, 90, 205},
    {153, 50, 204},
    {139, 0, 139},
    {199, 21, 133},
    {255, 105, 180}

int numColors = sizeof(colors) / sizeof(RGB);

void setup() 

void loop() 
    for (uint8_t cycle = 0; cycle < numColors; cycle++)
        for (uint8_t i = 0; i < PIXELS; i++)
            strip.setPixelColor(i, colors[cycle].r, colors[cycle].g, colors[cycle].b);
        delay(ON_TIME * 1000);


Step 13: Powering

Currently I am using a 150 mAh Lipo. Just fine for testing purposes and videotaping. I have large ones that are 1200 mAh. I ordered some NiMH AA rechargables which haven't come in yet. (Alkaline batteries put off a little too much power as compared to the nickel-cadmium, and Adafruit advises against using them.) I plan on using the small solar panel to charge the batteries up until noon, then use the solar panel to power the Headlights directly. It's raining now and for the next few days so we have tried out the panel with some flashlights. It barely seems to power it, so we'll see on the next super-sunny day.

It's a Radio Shack 1W solar panel/4.5V

Good to know I have a few options, be it the LiPo, which I can recharge on my laptop, the AA rechargables which I can either charge by solar or plug in, and then hopefully the solar panel for direct power.

Step 14: In Action!

It's rainy, dark and dreary out, but it'll do.

We'll be adding a bell to hang from the top of the canopy, and I may add some EL wire on the bicycle tires.

Maybe I'll fashion a custom grill to cover the wire. So many more ideas!

I'll be sure to update with pics when we use this during Porcfest at the end of June.

Reuse Contest

Participated in the
Reuse Contest

Move It

Participated in the
Move It

2 People Made This Project!


  • Backyard Contest

    Backyard Contest
  • Finish It Already Speed Challenge

    Finish It Already Speed Challenge
  • First Time Author Contest

    First Time Author Contest

5 Discussions


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Not bad, and we had to when it was pouring out! Just unscrew the 8 screws holding the canopy.


5 years ago on Introduction

Very nice build! Good use of salvaged materials.