Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shop Cart with Adjustable Shelves - Free Plan

This fabulous item is a roll around computer cart with adjustable shelves.  At least that's what I thought it was about thirty years ago when I made it and three or four more identical clones.  The idea was to put the monitor and a keyboard on the top shelf, with a printer and the computer itself on the two shelves below. There was no room for a mouse, but that was not a problem because computer mice didn't really catch on until about 1984 when the Apple Macintosh first came out.  Unfortunately, there was also no room for your knees, either.  Duh.  That really was a problem, given that knees had achieved widespread popularity quite some time earlier.

The good news is that these carts were useful anyway.  I wound up using a couple of them for many years to store books, and gave a couple of them away to friends for who knows what.  And I still have one in my shop.  It's handy enough for all sorts of things that I would build another one tomorrow if I was starting over from square one.

The Details

If you want to make one of these yourself, the following pictures link to PDF files containing dimensioned drawings of all the parts.




I made the base from a piece of 1/2" plywood, with a 3/4" thick solid skirt to trim up the edges of the plywood and provide a way to attach the sides.  Although the drawing shows it being put together with simple butt joints, you would probably want to use some screws or fancier joinery to make it a little more robust.  There are four pads glued to the underside of the base for mounting some casters.  The exact size and thickness of the pads will depend on the specific casters that you are using.

The shelves are similar to the base, except that the skirt is narrower and they have holes drilled for two T-nuts in each side. Bolts go through the sides of the cart and into these T-nuts to support the shelves. Because the base and the shelves all need to be the same size, it's a good idea to make them all at the same time. I made three shelves (in addition to the base) for each cart, but I don't think I ever used more than two at a time.

The sides are made from 3/4" stock. I used half lap joints at the corners. Mortise and tenon joints would work instead, as would floating tenons or even pocket screws. I drilled 5/16" holes for the 1/4" shelf mounting bolts so it would be easy to get everything lined up when installing the shelves. The sides are glued permanently to the base, and have a 1/4" roundover on all the outside corners just for looks.

The ugly drips of paint are completely optional.

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