“We could use just a bit more counter space,” I said to my husband as I stood and looked around our kitchen. He laughed. After all, I had just spent months completely remodeling the space—building new upper cabinets, demoing a pantry wall, replacing the backsplash, installing flooring and lighting, and then having it painted when the work was done.
But while I was a bit tired from the nonstop projects, I knew the space was calling for a kitchen cart. So, I headed back into my workshop.
The result? A 25-by-50-inch butcher-block work surface atop a sturdy open-frame cart with tapered legs, a slatted shelf, hooks and a towel bar for hanging storage, and heavy-duty locking casters so it’s easy to glide out of the way should a smidge more space be needed for, say, a family dance party. At just under $200 for materials, this last kitchen project was well worth the extra effort. Read on to see how you can make one of your own.
When designing a kitchen around a fixed island, a good rule of thumb is to allow at least 36 inches of clearance on all sides. But since this cart can be wheeled around, I threw the rule out the window and sized the base to accommodate an off-the-shelf butcher-block top that I found at my local home center.
At only $80, the 1½-inch-thick, 25-by-50-inch unfinished butcher-block top was a much more affordable solution than buying a quartzite slab to match our countertops. I chose a stain that complemented my kitchen’s color palette to finish it.
- Two 2×4×8′ boards
- Three 1×6×8′ boards
- Three 1×4×6′ boards
- Two 1×2×8′ boards
- 1¼” coarse-thread pocket-hole screws
- 1¼” finishing nails
- ¾” flathead screws (to attach the top)
- Four towel hooks
- One 12″ cabinet pull or towel bar
- Four 2″ threaded-stem casters with brake
- Four tee nuts sized to fit casters
- Eight figure-eight fasteners
- Wood glue
- Wood filler
- Sanding discs
- Quart paint-and-primer
- Quart wood stain
- Quart polyurethane
- Saw guide
How to Build a DIY Mobile Kitchen Cart (Step-by-Step)
Step 1: Mke the legs and rails
Use a miter saw to cut the legs and rails to length following the cut list at thisoldhouse.com. Next, lay out the taper on each leg following the measurements on the illustration at left; then, use a saw guide and a circular saw to cut along the line. Using a pocket-hole jig, drill the pocket holes as indicated on the drawing.
Step 2: Attach the long rails to the legs
Place a long rail between two legs, clamped with the tapered edges facing inward. Using wood glue and 1¼-inch pocket-hole screws, attach the rail flush with the tops of the legs. Repeat with the remaining pair of legs and long rail.
Step 3: Size and install the long stretchers
Draw a line 3 inches up from the bottom of each leg. Next, position a long stretcher under a leg assembly so that its bottom edge touches the line and mark out the miter angle. Using the line, cut the rail to fit, then drill the pocket holes and attach it to the legs. Repeat with the opposite side.
Step 4: Add the short rails and stretchers
Using glue and pocket-hole screws, attach the short rails and stretchers to a leg assembly. Make sure that the edges align with the previously installed boards. Flip the assembly over and screw the rails and stretcher to the remaining leg assembly.
Step 5: Attach the cleats
Cut the cleats to fit. Using a spacer to ensure that the shelf boards will sit flush with the stretcher, attach the cleats to the stretchers with glue and 1¼-inch nails.
Step 6: Notch and install the shelf slats
Install the slats from the outside in. First, use a jigsaw to notch the outermost slats so that they fit around the legs. Next, dry-fit the slats to check the spacing—aim for ¾-inch gaps—and then secure them to the cleats with glue and nails.
Step 7: Finish the base
Fill screw holes, sand, and then paint the base. Next, install a towel bar (I used a long cabinet pull) on one end and hooks along the front. Drill a hole in the bottom of each leg, tap in a tee nut until it sits flush with the wood, and then thread the casters into the tee nuts.
Step 8: Top it off
Finish the butcher block with one coat of stain and two coats of polyurethane. Once dry, set it upside down on your work surface on a towel to prevent scratches. To attach the base, drill recesses in the rails for the figure-eight fasteners, as shown on the illustration.
Adjust the depth so that the fasteners are flush with the top edge. Center the base on the top, and attach it with ¾-inch screws. Flip the cart over, and it’s ready to roll.