Tools & Materials
You, grill master, have requirements. This cart meets them, with a roomy top and shelf to rest trays on, metal rods for hanging utensils, and wheels that let you roll a rack of ribs right up to your guests. Naturally rot-resistant cedar is not only a beautiful material to work with but also safe for food handling. So follow along with This Old House contributor and furniture maker Christopher Beidel, owner of Pernt, in Brooklyn, New York, as he shows you how to make this handsome patio piece.
Saturday: Make the tabletop (Steps 2-8)
Sunday: Build and install the base (Steps 9-13)
Cut List and Hardware
1×4 cedar stiles: two @ 39 ½ inches
1×4 cedar rails: two at 15 inches
1×4 cedar slats: eight @ 30 inches
1×4 cedar legs: two @ 34 ½ inches
1×4 cedar legs: two @ 31 ¾ inches
1×4 cedar feet and brackets: ten @ 19 ¼ inches
1×4 cedar axle block: four @ 3 ½ inches
1×4 cedar foot pad: two @ 5 inches
1×4 cedar stretcher: one @ 28 ½ inches
1×4 cedar stretcher slat: one @ 21 ½ inches
⅜-inch rod (aluminum or brass) two @ 17 inches
½-inch threaded galvanized rod, 13 threads per inch: one @ approximately 36 inches
Galvanized flat washers: four @ ½-inch-diameter center opening
Galvanized locknut: two @ ½ inch, 13 threads per inch
Plastic wheels: two Maxpower 335080 8-inch-by-1.75-inch Plastic Lawn Mower Wheels
Cut the Parts
On a miter saw, make all the straight cuts according to the cut list. Allow one pair of leg boards to run about 6 inches long; it will be cut to length to level the table in Step 6.
Rout the Rails
To keep the clamps out of the router’s path, angle a rail across the corner of your work surface, its back edge against a piece of scrap to support your straightedge. Clamp the straightedge over both pieces, positioned to allow your router to cut a ¾-inch-wide channel. Chuck a ¾-inch straight bit in the router, and set its depth to ⅛ inch. Make several passes, adjusting the depth until the rabbet is ⅜ inch deep. Rabbet the other rail, too.
Drill the Dowel and Rod Holes
Even up the two stiles side by side and use a combination square to mark a perpendicular line across their faces, 3¾ inches from each end. Mark the centerline on the face of the two rails where they’ll butt into the stiles. Position the doweling jig at the end of a rail, with its center register over your centerline mark, and clamp both jig and rail to your work surface. Use a ⅜-inch bit to drill two holes 1⅛ inch deep into the end of the rail; replicate a pair of holes in both ends of both rails. Next, align the jig over the perpendicular marks on the stiles and drill a pair of holes into the inside edge of the boards at each location. To create the holes for the aluminum rods, clamp the jig flush at each end of each stile and drill through the outer guide to make just one hole, as shown.
Dry-Fit the Frame
Use a hacksaw to cut two pieces of aluminum rod to length for the utensil racks. Lay the frame pieces out on your work surface, and dry-fit them to make sure everything lines up.
Assemble the Frame
Apply wood glue to one end of the wood dowels, and insert them into the holes on the rails. Apply glue to the exposed dowels for one stile; mate them, as shown; and slip the aluminum rods in the two open holes on that same stile. Now, apply glue to the dowels for the second stile, snug it in place, and use bar clamps to hold it.
Rout the Slats
Clamp the four tabletop slats together edge to edge, then clamp the assembly to your work surface. With the same router bit, cut a rabbet ¾ inch wide and ⅜ inch deep across each end of the assembly, as shown.
Attach the Slats
In order to hide the fasteners, lay out the slats rabbet-side up, then fit the frame into place over them. Use spacers (we used paint stirrers) to keep the slats a uniform distance apart. Countersink two 1/16-inch pilot holes through the rail and into the joint at the ends of each slat. Then use ⅝-inch brass wood screws to secure the slats, as shown.
Tip: Use perpendicular spacers to push the slats up into the rabbets of the tabletop frame and to keep clamps out of the way.
Create the Feet and Brackets
Along the top edge of a blank, find the center point, measure 1¼ inches out to each side, and mark those points. Set a bevel gauge to 12 degrees and draw a cutline diagonally from each point to the edge. Clamp a straightedge down as a guide, and cut out the foot. Use the piece as a template to mark the other nine blanks for the feet and brackets, then cut them all.
Assemble the Legs
Clamp the two boards for the stationary leg around a scrap of the same material, then clamp a foot to the assembly. Countersink four holes, as shown, and attach the foot with 1¼-inch deck screws. Attach the paired foot on the leg’s other side, and opposing brackets at the other end for the tabletop. For the wheeled leg, attach only the foot pieces.
Make the Axle Blocks
To form an axle block, glue two pieces together that are the same width as the leg. Draw a reference line down the block’s center and clamp it to your work surface. Use a ½-inch bit to drill a hole straight through the top piece, as shown. Keep the drill level, and aim the bit along the centerline as you drill. Repeat to make the matching block.
Bore the Axle Holes
The axle also has to pass through the bottom of the leg. Stand the leg on your work surface and temporarily clamp the axle block against the leg, between the feet. Use the block as a guide to drill through one of the leg boards, as shown. Repeat on the leg’s other side.
Install the Wheels and Foot Pads
Position both blocks between the feet and slip the threaded rod into place to help align them. For each axle block, countersink two holes through the foot and into each side of the block and screw it in place. Slip a ½-inch washer onto the rod, followed by a wheel and another washer. Thread a ½-inch locknut onto the axle to hold the wheel in place. Do the same on the other side, and cut off the excess rod with a hacksaw. Countersink holes and screw the foot pads underneath the feet on the stationary leg.
Tip: Clamp a scrap block directly behind the axle block to prevent the drill bit from “blowing out,” or splintering, the back side of the block as it exits.
Measure and Cut the Legs
Place the stationary leg on your work surface. Lay the wheeled leg on top of it and line up the bottom of the wheels with the bottom of the foot pads. Then use a combination square to mark the length of the stationary leg against the wheeled leg, as shown. Cut the wheeled leg to length with your circular saw. To install the tabletop brackets, drill countersink holes and screw them in place, as in Step 10.
Attach the Stretcher
Mark both legs 13¾ inches from the top, and stand them upside down on your work surface. Clamp the stretcher between them, just above the marks. Use your drill to countersink holes and secure the stretcher with deck screws.
Attach the Legs to the Tabletop
Lay the tabletop upside down on your work surface. Center the leg assembly on it. Put a ⅜-inch bit in your drill. Mark the bit at 1 inch from the tip with a piece of tape, and mark the brackets 1¼ inch from each end, over the stiles. Drill straight holes 1 inch deep (to the tape line) into the ends of each bracket. Secure the brackets to the table stiles with 1¼-inch deck screws.
Attach the Shelf Brackets
Stand the table upright on your work surface. Use your drill to countersink holes and screw the shelf brackets to the leg, level with the top of the stretcher.
Secure the Shelf Slats
Lay out the shelf slats, using your spacers to maintain an even distance between them. Countersink one hole at each end of the center slat into the top edge of the stretcher, and screw it in place. For the others, countersink two holes in each end, and drive screws into the top edge of each bracket to secure them. Now it’s time to fire up the grill.