Mother's Homemade Wheelbarrow

Don't buy a new load lifter. Buy or scavenge some wood and a few other parts and assemble this homemade wheelbarrow yourself.

| July/August 1979

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The homemade wheelbarrow in action.


The cost of gardening equipment—and of most other useful commodities, as well—is skyrocketing. So to help you save a little cash (as much as $65!) on your hardware expenses, MOTHER EARTH NEWS' researchers have come up with an unusual and functional homemade wheelbarrow!

How It Works

Our load-lifter rolls on a recycled five-gallon Freon cylinder (available for the asking at your local refrigeration and air conditioning shop), which is in turn supported on a 3/4" X 22" length of rigid conduit that serves as an axle. The wide footprint of that tank "wheel" is one secret of this humus-hauler's success. Few conventional wheelbarrows can cruise over holes as easily as this build-it-yourself tool, and no other single-wheel design is as stable. (After all, how many store-bought 'barrows sport wheels more than half the width of their load beds?)

In addition, our easy-to-make garden helper balances its load above the wheel—for ease of lifting—in a box constructed from 10 feet of 1 X 12 (for flooring) and an eight-foot length of 1 X 10 (which is used for side boards). The little workhorse's triangulated design provides the 2 X 4 frame (you'll need two 10-foot lengths, all told) with added strength under load. And best of all, you can put together the wheelbarrow in a couple of hours for under $10 (or even less, if you "recycle" materials).

So Build It

This mover can be assembled using basic carpentry tools, with a few exceptions: In order to turn the Freon tank into a wheel, you must drill (using a metal working bit) a 3/4" hole in each end of the cylinder and then weld the 3/4" X 22" conduit axle in position.

Also, you should cover the tank with something cushy to help it ride over concrete or rocks. Try stretching a "sleeve" or two of old truck inner tube over the cylinder, if necessary with a little lubricating help from some oil. Or slice up a chunk of used-tire tread and pop rivet (or screw) it to the roller.

Once the wheel is assembled, it's time to construct the wooden frame and load bed. Divide one of the 2 X 4's into two 60" pieces to form the handles. Since these "hilts" will angle outward from the axle ends (to provide a comfortable "grasp"), the holes which will secure the "wheel" in place will not be perpendicular to the wood surface. So turn the boards sideways and raise the grab-ends of the handles with 5" blocks. You can then drill square to your work surface—at a point centered on and three inches from the end of the board—to get the correct angle.

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