Sheet Goods Rack/Cart

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Project by dfdye posted 02-01-2010 08:39 PM 6918 views 9 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since I stumbled across Lumberjocks while looking for ideas for this project, I figured I should post it as my first project! I have been needing to build a mobile storage rack for sheet goods for my garage shop that does double duty as (shock!) a garage! Because space is at a premium, I needed something no more than two feet deep, and as low as possible to the ground since it has to sit underneath my already limited lumber rack.

The obvious choice was the Wood Magazine Roll-Around Plywood Cart , but it seemed a little unstable on first glance, and didn’t really fit my size requirements. Still, the idea seemed like a winner, even though there isn’t a front support to allow easy sorting through sheets on the rack. Since I rarely have more than 4 full sheets of anything in my shop at a time unless I am working on a specific project with lots of the same material, I can live with this limitation.

My modifications to the Wood Magazine design were pretty simple—I sized down the length of the cart to 6’ in length, and I put diagonal braces along the back and overlapped the plywood end-caps of the cart with the 2 X 4 base to add some rigidity. Overlapping the endcaps also allowed me to skip cutting out slots in the plywood to accept the 2×4’s, and instead attach them with butt joints, making construction just a little easier.

I also made the base a full 24” wide, with the end cap intersecting the middle of the base to ensure that the weight stays over the casters and doesn’t flip over. With this configuration and the diagonal back braces, the front can hold full 4 X 8 sheets with one foot of overhang on either end, and small cutoffs can be placed in the back behind the cross braces.

I used a 6’ pre-finished particle board shelf for the base of the cart, and cut off the front bullnose edge of the shelf to make the front lip of the cart. If you noticed the 3” strip of brown plywood and wondered what that was about, when I cut the cross supports for the base (21”) from the end of 8’ 2X4’s, I forgot to cut the extra 3” off of the long 2×4’s to make them 6’ (I was working from plans I drew up that morning on the back of junk mail, so I figured if this was the only mistake I made I was in good shape!). Instead, the cart ended up 3” too long, and rather than disassembling and trimming the 2×4’s, I just added a filler piece.

The picture of the under-side of the base shows the simple butt-joint construction I used. I attached the casters on the corner braces I put on the ends of the base so that the casters were barely below the base. I attached the braces using big lag screws so that the sheer weight wouldn’t be a problem. This way, I am lifting the cart off the ground as little as possible so that I don’t have to raise my lumber rack any more than necessary (the rack is unistrut on a wall, so it’s pretty adjustable). If I need to lock the rack into place, I have a couple of wooden wedges that fit under the base—not the most secure design, but it doesn’t need to be.

I was able to knock this out in just a few hours this Sunday afternoon, and my 2 year old son just had to come out and help once the big cutting tools got put away (and yes, the drill was locked in the “off” position—remember, there is no more important safety lesson than to wear these, your safety glasses!).

After finishing up the project, I would have done three things differently: 1) I would have covered the full base of the cart with the shelving. It is only a dollar or two more for the 24”x6’ shelf than the size I got, and it would keep some of the smaller pieces was trying to store on the back from slipping through the braces. 2) I would have used pocket holes in the base frame to attach the shelving from below, rather than countersinking screws through the shelving from above. 3) I would have used better casters. The casters I used were left over from another project, and were rated for “320 lbs.” Of course I immediately said to myself 4 X 320 = 1280 lbs, I should be golden! Of course I mis-read the package and the rating was already for a set of 4 casters. Woopsie. I should be able to swap these out pretty easily, but they seem to be holding for the time being, even though I have the rack pretty loaded up already.

When I got done yesterday, I let the adhesive sit for a couple of hours and loaded up the cart. The good news is that everything seems to be working perfectly—the open back is really useful for small stuff, and the front has plenty of room for full sheets and large cut-offs. The cart rolls fine, but the casters squeak a little when I got it fully loaded, so I am guessing they won’t last that long as-is. I knew they were undersized as soon as I put them on, but I figured they were in-hand and they just MIGHT work if I am super lucky! :) Hopefully I can catch a sale in the mean time and pick up some heavy-duty 2” casters to replace them.

Of course I forgot to take pictures of it loaded up, but like I said, it is working just fine and was super easy to build. Now I guess it is time to drop a couple sheets of cherry veneer ply on it for the bathroom cabinets that are going to get built later in the spring! (Still have to finish the mobile miter-saw/planer base, though, before I can get to the cabinets)


-- David from Indiana --

4 comments so far

View ohwoodeye's profile


2240 posts in 3665 days

#1 posted 02-01-2010 08:49 PM

Nice project. Should come in very handy. It’s always fun to work with the little guy.(your son I am assuming) But get some saftey glasses on him. They make children’s sizes and he will think they are cool especially if Dad wears them too!

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 3931 days

#2 posted 02-01-2010 09:05 PM

Nice work. I always admire someone who 1. makes their garage a shop and 2. Roots for the Hoosiers!

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3548 days

#3 posted 02-01-2010 09:06 PM

Mike, I completely agree about the eye protection! Safety glasses are typically the first thing that goes on when the tools come out and the last things taken off when I leave the garage. In this picture, I was taking a break and my son wanted to come out and see what I was doing. He just wanted to carry around the drill, even though it was locked off, and was holding it up to the screws (and yes, he definitely knows what the screwdriver is for!) I made a note of this the text, but the pictures obviously don’t have captions explaining the whole story! I debated putting the picture in because I was CERTAIN I would prompt some comments about eye protection because it looks like he is actually using the driver without glasses, but it was too cute to leave off! If he is ever out there with me when we are using tools, he knows we have to have glasses/goggles on. He can hit a nail like a champ with my tack hammer, and he can put a manual screwdriver into screws and know what to do with them, he just doesn’t quite have the strength to drive them in himself yet.

So far, our worst toddler shop accident is hitting our finger with a rubber mallet, and trust me, I intend to keep it that way for a long time!

-- David from Indiana --

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4088 days

#4 posted 02-02-2010 06:31 AM

Good job

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