An Owner-Built Yard Cart for Under $50

A long-time reader describes the process of scavenging parts and building a yard cart modeled after a factory-made unit.

| May/June 1983

yard cart - wheel and axle support

Each axle of the yard cart is supported with angle iron that's attached to a 2 x 2. A pipe-coupling spacer takes up extra length on the axle.

Photo by R.M. Fraza

While trying to maintain a half-acre lot that sports many trees and a large garden space, I decided that I could use a good, sturdy yard cart. Furthermore, since I live on retirement income and am a longtime MOTHER EARTH NEWS-reader, I felt that I'd either have to build one myself or do without.

With this in mind, I conducted a bit of research and soon came across an advertisement which pictured a factory-built carryall that helped me determine the dimensions for my personalized version.

To keep costs down, I scrounged most of the needed materials. I found a bucket full of 4" x 4", right-angled metal brackets at an auction; bought carriage bolts (at a bargain, per-pound price) from a large discount supply house; purchased 5/8" exterior plywood "cutoffs" from the local lumberyard at a considerable saving (I got six pieces, each 2' x 4', for $12.50); and obtained wheels from a friendly motorcycle dealer, who sold me a used set complete with tires, brakes, and axles for a mere $15.

The only parts I purchased "retail" were two 8-foot lengths of hobby angle iron (slotted) and a 10-foot length of 3/4" electrical pipe, which I had an electrician bend into a handle shape. All of the other supplies came from my collection of odds and ends stored for possible future use. (In other words, I raided my own junk pile, too!)

I used only ordinary tools — in this instance a saber saw, a circular saw, three wrenches, and a propane torch. And despite the fact that I didn't have access to a full-scale workshop, it took me only about 12 hours to complete my cart.

One piece of plywood large enough to form the bottom of the box I trimmed to measure 24" x 43". Another piece I cut to make the two 12"-high sidewalls. I then sliced a 4" x 8" wedge off one end of each side and added 6" x 30" "splashboards" along the top edges. The cart's bottom is reinforced with 2 x 2's. I laid them flat around the perimeter of the box, glued in them place, and secured them with screws for extra support. (I bolted the angle irons that support the inside of the axles to these 2 X 2's.)

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!