Mother’s Three-Way Wood Cart

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The multipurpose wood cart in its hauling mode.
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The multipurpose wood cart in its hauling mode.

Wood stoves have come a long way in the past few years, but we haven’t heard of one yet that fetches its own fuel! So, to make life just a bit simpler, the fellows down at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS research shop put their heads together and came up with a nifty carrying cart that doubles as a wood storage rack and can even be used to truck trash cans and other unwieldy burdens from point A to point B.

We made our multipurpose wood cart from one standard length of 1/2″ thin wall electrical metallic tubing and two sections of 3/4″ E.M.T., four 36″ lengths of 1/4″ threaded rod, two 7″-diameter wheels with a compatible 19″ axle, a total of 167″ (almost 14 feet) of 1/4″ X 1 1/2″ lath, a chunk of 3/4″ plywood measuring 18″ X 26″, and some assorted bolts with nuts and washers.

The tools required are a power drill with an array of bits, a screwdriver, a wrench, a hacksaw, a saber saw, a 7/8″ hole saw, and a 3/4″ tube bender. (This last implement–although it’ll set you back about $20–will probably pay for itself several times over, since it’s an invaluable aid in building any number of conduit-related projects.)

Start by cutting all the components to size (check the image gallery for an illustration). Remember that you’ll need to get both the right and left sides of the rack from your one section of plywood, so it’s best that you outline the U-shaped pieces on the board–in an interlocking manner–prior to making your cuts. (Hint: The corners of these wooden horseshoe shapes take a good deal of strain … so heed our advice and fashion them wider–by 1/2″–than the rest of the frame.)

Putting the rack together is simply a matter of drilling 1/4″ holes, spaced about 5 1/2 inches apart, through the uprights of the plywood “U”s, then slipping 18″ lengths of threaded rod into the six 1/2” E.M.T. sections and “surrounding” them with the wooden frames and some end nuts. The nine floorboards are then spaced about 1/4 inch from each other and held in place with No. 6 X 1/2″ panhead sheet metal screws. (You may, if you choose, dress up the cradle with a coat of your favorite wood preservative before you assemble it.)

The cart’s chassis is formed from one full (120″) length of 3/4″ conduit joined to a pair of shaped 27″ pieces of the same material and supported–breadthwise–by two additional 14 3/4″ tubular struts. Begin the bending process by locating the center of the longest section of tube and measuring out–to the right and left–2 1/2 inches from this central point. Form your 90° handle arcs starting at these spots, then mark off a 24″ straight span from the terminus of the bends for each of the truck’s “down” tubes (remember that each shaped bend will take up about 10″ of conduit, so all your measurements should be made from the ends of the arcs). Finally, form two more “nineties”perpendicular to the first pair–at the 2-foot point, and trim any excess metal so the two resulting “forks” are even in length.

Next, fabricate the right and left wheel supports from the two 27″ conduit sections (each has a straight 16″ run before it bends), then take your hole saw and contour the upper ends of these legs–and each tip of the two 14 3/4″ cross braces–so they match their tubular mates perfectly at the joints. (The best way to do this without collapsing the conduit’s wall is to insert a well-sanded piece of 7/8″ dowel partially into the end of the tube before you drill.)

To wrap the project up, bore a pair of axle holes through the base of the legs … drill, then bolt the leg components to the frame … and fasten the horizontal struts in place with your remaining two lengths of threaded rod. Install the axle and wheels, plug or cap the exposed tube ends if desired, and you’re ready to haul–as we’ve done–up to 90 pounds of firebox fodder in one load (for immediate use or just to save future steps), and to enjoy the peace of mind that only a full tinder crib can bring!

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