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How to Make a Hardworking Kitchen Cart

In one of our #DIYDARE challenge projects, turn aluminum tubes, fittings and some butcher block into a speedy cart that works indoors or out

Transform a pile of aluminum tubes into just about anything with fittings that cinch in place at the turn of a setscrew. We used this system to build a kitchen cart that, when paired with casters and a durable butcher-block workbench top, pulls double duty indoors and out.

Could you do better? It’s your turn to make use of any scraps you’ve got lying around, supplemented, of course, by one or three trips to the home center, to build a project of your own.

We’re calling it the #DIYDARE. Check out our examples to get inspired, then snap a photo and of your project and tag it #DIYdare when you post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. (HASH)Tag, you’re it.

Step 1: Overview to Make a Hardworking Kitchen Cart

Photo by Mark Lund

Lyndsey looked at the aluminum tubes and fittings poking up from the box of parts in her #DIYDARE kit and fist-bumped Nate.

”Whatever we do, it’s gonna be like building with Tinkertoys,” she said. “But what should it be?” The stainless-steel color and a nearby workbench top made it click. “A rolling island,” Lyndsey said.

They cut the aluminum tubes to length and joined them with fittings and a hex key. With the frame built, they added slats below for bulk storage, the beefy maple work surface above, and an overhead rack to keep frequently used pans handy.

Standing back and admiring their work, Nate said, “Not bad for the kitchen, but those wheels mean we can roll it right outside for backyard-cocktail time!” An idea they’ll clearly drink to.

Step 2: Cut the Parts

Photo by Mark Lund

Determine the height, width, and length of the cart. We designed ours around a 2-by-4-foot workbench top. Fit a miter saw with a nonferrous metal cutting blade, or use a hacksaw, to trim the aluminum tubes to length.

Step 3: Assemble the Frame

Photo by Mark Lund

Use fittings to join the tubes together and make a three-dimensional rectangle. Slip the tabs onto the horizontal tubes to secure the top and the shelf to the cart before tightening the corner fittings. Tighten the setscrews at each fitting with a hex key.

Step 4: Add the Top

Photo by Mark Lund

Using tee fittings, add the pair of aluminum tubes that will support the rack above one end of the cart. Space the tabs evenly to support the top and the shelf from underneath, and secure them with the hex key. Use screws to attach runners to the bottom tabs, then add strips of oak to the runners to make a slat shelf. Drill pilot holes to join the pieces with wood screws. Drop the top in place and fasten it the same way. Add the casters and tighten the setscrews as before.

Step 5: Build the Overhead Rack

Photo by Mark Lund

Rub two coats of food-grade mineral oil onto the butcher-block top and the shelf below to protect the wood from staining over time. Add a few hooks to the storage rack above to keep frequently used items at hand. Bulkier items can be stowed below.


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