I have a wood storage problem - so I built a Lumber Cart

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Project by Freakazoid posted 10-21-2012 11:30 PM 52318 views 68 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The lumber cart in the pictures was a plan I found on PlansNow, however I later found out that they were originally from ShopNotes Issue number 55. A search on Lumberjocks shows a couple of other carts built to the same plan:

Click for details

Click for details

I also found a downsized version (this is pretty cool):

Click for details

I made few changes to the plan, and I have a few recommendations

1. I did not use 1x lumber for the base rails. I used 2x that I doubled up in the center three locations and tripled in the end locations (to support the casters). In hindsight I would have put one last additional piece of plywood on the bottom, creating a torsion box for that last little bit of rigidity. When screwing the shelves to the side panels, I was able to flex the base just by flushing up the shelves to the side panels. Besides, torsion boxes are all the rage right now.

2. The plan calls for incorrect widths of the shelves: 10 7/16, 12 1/2, 14 1/2, and 16 9/16 inches. The shelves are spaced evenly apart and centered, so I used 10 1/2, 12 1/2, 14 1/2, and 16 1/2 inches. I checked it with SketchUp and I am glad I did. Many hours lost (or was it gained) figuring this part out.

3. I did not use the circular pattern for the bin dividers. All effort and no reward other than visual appeal. I like the angled look better.

4. This project does not assemble easily. This is pretty much a two person project. You can cut all the parts by yourself but good luck assembling solo. The order of assembly in the plan is probably the best way to do it, but the plan calls for no vertical fasteners (dividers to base, side panels to base). I used pocket screws to fix that, and because I believe in punishing myself for an unknown reason, I chose to place them inside the shelf spaces:

I could not fit:

My brother did fit, but needed help getting out:

5. Don’t skimp out on casters. The plan calls for casters rated at 400 pounds each. The plan calls for 5 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood and has space to store 8 full sheets – that comes out to 780 pounds (assuming 60 pounds per sheet) and there is still all the shelf and bin space to fill up. I used casters rated for 700 pounds each, which I bought off of EBay for $11 each from here: This places gives good shipping discounts for multiple items, so 4 casters was $16 shipping vice $13 for one. I have used these casters on a couple other projects (yet to complete, yet to post) and I am very happy with them.

6. Don’t be afraid of the size. The base is 32×96 inches but does not need to spin in place to function. I have it placed to the left of my table saw, with the cutoff bins facing out. If I need to cut / store / move sheetgoods, I just swing it out from one end a couple of feet. This maneuver also gives me great access to the internal shelves.

Here it is in all its glory (although not yet pushed against the wall where I will keep it):

Once again, thanks to the other Lumberjocks who have treaded here before me, posting advice and opinion, and giving me the motivation to move forward with my own projects.

-- I can complicate anything

24 comments so far

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2966 days

#1 posted 10-21-2012 11:45 PM

great rack

-- Joel

View mmh's profile


3680 posts in 4634 days

#2 posted 10-22-2012 12:57 AM

A nice addition to any woodshop. I could use a couple!

Because I have a lot of unique sized/lengthed pieces of wood, I think I’d have to use 2×4’s instead of a solid sheet of plywood on one of the sides to allow me to see and access the horizontal shelves. Otherwise, this is definately a smart storage unit.

So, is the photo with the pair of feet sticking out to show how you can hide a body or is that your secret nap hideaway???

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 3102 days

#3 posted 10-22-2012 01:50 AM

great turned out nice.i would like to build one someday.that is if my wife quits coming up with more and more projects.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3587 days

#4 posted 10-22-2012 02:23 AM

I built the one listed in Shopnotes #55. I put a bottom in it to keep spiders and such from making nests under there. Sorry but I have them. I also made the base or floor wider so I could store more sheet goods. I used cast wheels with neoprine tires on them. These can be lubricated. This thing is heavy and hard to move when it is fully loaded. You did a great job on this. Enjoy!!

View IndianJoe's profile


425 posts in 3161 days

#5 posted 10-22-2012 02:47 AM

I just need a bigger shop and with heat
Ps like what you made good work

-- Nimkee** Joe

View jaysonic's profile


219 posts in 3054 days

#6 posted 10-22-2012 03:53 AM

Awesome, definite upgrade from the one I made!

View Sodabowski's profile


2392 posts in 3744 days

#7 posted 10-22-2012 07:16 AM

Now that you give us specifics about the weight of this thing an its contents, I think I might end up doing the carcass of mine out of steel instead of dimensional lumber… Thanks for all the advice!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3979 days

#8 posted 10-22-2012 01:36 PM

Great job!! I need one but space is an issue.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View chris1's profile


2 posts in 4066 days

#9 posted 10-22-2012 03:30 PM

Each castor in the original design can support 400 lb. With four castors your cart was designed to support a load up to 1600 lb. Your 780 lb load is well within the design spec of the cart. With 700 lb castors you can load up to 2800 lb.

View empeg9000's profile


86 posts in 3337 days

#10 posted 10-22-2012 04:28 PM

Awesome cart. I may have to steal that idea. Thanks!

View Jack Barnhill's profile

Jack Barnhill

366 posts in 4277 days

#11 posted 10-22-2012 06:20 PM

I built a version of this cart a few years ago. It was about half-sized due to my limited space. I added a simple wood-block handle under each end of on of the middle shelves to make it easier to move around. They’re glued & screwed to the under side of the shelf and the side panels so it won’t pull out pulling that much weight. I also put a small chain and hook around the sheet goods side so the material doesn’t flop out if I jostle the cart over any bump in the shop.

-- Best regards, Jack -- I may not be good, but I'm slow --

View CharlieM1958's profile


16289 posts in 5130 days

#12 posted 10-22-2012 06:55 PM

Very well done!

Can I send you my brother to stick in there?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View redsox9's profile


105 posts in 3198 days

#13 posted 10-22-2012 06:56 PM

Great job! I like the mobility that it allows you to bring the material where you need it.

-- Jeff, North Andover, MA

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3087 days

#14 posted 10-22-2012 09:32 PM

Invention indeed comes out of necessity! Excellent idea! Worth copying.

View Freakazoid's profile


72 posts in 3690 days

#15 posted 10-22-2012 09:44 PM

Many thanks to those who commented. I saw a couple that seem to be inspired – I hope I have done so, that’s why I built mine – projects posted by others.

Some specific responses:

mmh – I thought about the different length of board issue too. On the top shelf, I keep 2 – 3 foot stuff on one end and 3 – 6 stuff on the other end. The next two shelves are 8 footers, and the bottom shelf is for storage of a breakdown table I am building.

whitebeast88 – this has made so much room now that the lumber is all in one spot, you could probably justify to your wife that you will become more productive. As soon as I asked my wife to take a look at what I built, she said “when do I get a cutting board?”

Grandpa – you said it: heavy when loaded. I wished I had given in at the onset and made the bottom a torsion box because I also have spiders everywhere.

Jack – Thanks and check the links I posted – your cart is one of the projects that inspired me. I may still build a small one like yours, but I have other things to build before I know if I have room.

chris1 – regarding the weight rating and the calculated weight of the plywood, what I did not state was that the 8 sheets of plywood alone accounts for no more than 20% of the available volume to store material. That said, if the cart was loaded to capacity with wood the same density as plywood, it would come to around 2400 pounds. Don’t skimp on the casters!

CharlieM1958 – my brother still contends he can fit through the second shelf from the bottom. With that in mind, I had tossed around the idea with my feet sticking out the bottom, brother next shelf up, and daughter third shelf up. Wife takes the picture of course….

-- I can complicate anything

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