Mobile Assembly Cart

Keep drills, nailers, glues, and hardware close at hand.

Overall dimensions: 22 1⁄4"w × 16"d × 52 5⁄8"h

Good stock and seamless joinery are important components in a successful woodworking project, but nails, screws, and glues are the real power players. These simple items may not warrant the same fanfare, but without them, most projects would fall apart at the seams.

If you have ever wasted an afternoon hunting for a bottle of glue or rummaging through old coffee cans for a handful of 1 1⁄4" pocket screws, then this cart is for you. Despite its small footprint, this convenient carry-all can store a shop’s worth of hardware and adhesives. What’s more, the sides offer additional storage space for nailers, drills, and drivers. And thanks to a set of 2 1⁄2" casters, you can roll this assembly assistant into service when and where it’s needed and park it out of the way when the job is done.

The project requires a sheet of 3⁄4" plywood and a few strips of 1⁄2" plywood or hardwood and can be built using portable power tools. The shelves have been tailored to fit common plastic bins. As an alternative, you can easily build your own custom compartments — see "Simple, Shop-Made Compartments," below.

Note: This cart is based on a project that was submitted to us by Rodney Milen, a woodworker in Ocoee, Tennessee. I tweaked his design to make the cart from a single sheet of plywood and to accommodate WoodRiver storage bins.

When routing the grooves for the center divider opposite side, flip the sides end for end so that the edge guide registers against the same edge.

When making stopped cuts with a circular saw, stop the cut just before the teeth touch the curve. The portion of the blade you can’t see remains safely behind your line.

Tip Alert

If a curve doesn’t need to be a specific diameter, use the curves you have in hand. Rolls of tape, buckets, spray cans, and short sections of PVC pipe can all serve as handy tracing templates.


Breaking sheets down to size doesn’t need to break the bank or your back. To see different options that can work with any circular saw, check out onlineEXTRAS, below.

Build the case

1. Referring to the Cut List, and plywood Cutting Diagram on page 66, cut the sides (A), top (B), bottom (C), and center divider (D) from a sheet of 3⁄4" plywood. Cut the sides to length, but leave the other parts long for now.

2. Stack the two sides (A) together, inside faces out, and tack them together along the outer edges with a few 1 1⁄4" brads. 

3. Referring to the Side Detail, page 63, lay out the edges of the sides (A) and the dado for the center divider (D) on one face.

4. Using a handheld router equipped with a 23⁄32" plywood dado bit (you may also take two passes with a 1⁄2" straight bit) and edge guide, rout the 1⁄4"-deep dado along one face (Photo A) then flip the panels end for end and rout the second side.

5. Lay the sides (A) on a piece of rigid foam. Using a rail-guided saw or panel-cutting guide, cut the straight edges (Photo B). Repeat the cut on the opposite side, and then finish the curves with a jigsaw. Finally, smooth the curve as needed using a sanding block or oscillating spindle sander. (To see an alternative method for cutting the sides, check out the sidebar below.) Drill pocket holes along the top edge, where shown in the Side Detail.

Marking the jig with orientation arrows ensures that opposing holes line up. Mask off unwanted holes. 
Plywood pads keep the screws from sticking up through the base. Three lags per caster is plenty. 

Tip Alert

Pin nails do not have enough force to drive parts tightly together. To correct a minor gap, squeeze the strip to the shelf with a clamp, and then drive the pins.

6. Measure the height of the sides (A), subtract the thickness of the plywood, and trim the center divider (D) to length. Now, apply glue to the dadoes, fit the center divider between the two sides, and join the parts together using 2 1⁄2" production screws, where shown in Figure 1.

7. Measure the width of the partially assembled cart, and then trim the top (B) and bottom (C) to fit. Next, drill three pocket screw holes along both ends of the bottom. Now attach both pieces to the sides (A) using glue and 1 1⁄4" pocket screws.

8. Using a shelf-pin drilling jig, drill shelf pin holes where shown in Figure 1 and as shown in Photo C.

9. Cut the shelves (E, F) to fit. (Note: Have your shelf pin supports on hand when fitting the shelves. Pin-style supports won’t affect shelf length, but bracket-style supports will require you to trim the shelves by about 1⁄8".)

10. Cut the shelf edging (G) and bottom edging (H) from 1⁄2"-thick plywood or hardwood strips. Attach the strips to the shelves (E, F) using glue and pin nails.

Tablesaw Stop Cuts

Making stop cuts with a tablesaw is a bit different than with a circular saw. Because of the cut geometry, a tablesaw blade advances beyond the visible teeth. To visualize the location of the blade, mark the location of the front-most tooth on your fence, as shown in the photo at right. (To be safe, I made this line 1⁄8" in front of the tooth.) Next, mark a stop line on your workpiece to indicate the start of the curve.

Now set your fence and start the cut. When the stop line approaches the line you drew on your fence, hold the material firmly in place and shut off your saw. Wait for the blade to stop completely before removing your stock.

Simple, Shop-Made Compartments

Shop-made divided boxes offer an opportunity to size the compartments to suit and to make use of small scraps. To start, fit a shelf to your cart, and then cut a strip of 1⁄2" plywood to the same length. To lay out the divider locations evenly, place a rule diagonally across the surface as shown, bottom left. (To divide this shelf into five equal compartments, I set one end of the rule mark on one edge and the far end on the 20" mark, and made marks at 4" increments.) Use a square to complete the lines.

To cut matching dadoes in the bottom, front, and back, attach an auxiliary fence to your miter gauge. Raise the blade 5⁄16", cut into the fence, and mark the kerf location. Using the kerf line and divider lines to set the stop, cut the dadoes as shown far right. Finally, trim the bottom to allow for the sides, trim the front and back to size, and assemble the box with glue and pin nails. Make dividers from 1⁄8" acrylic or hardboard.

Finishing up

1. Cut the caster pads (I) to size, and then attach them with glue and pin nails. Next, drill pilot holes and install the casters with washers and 5⁄16" × 1" lag screws, as shown in Photo D.

2. Ease all sharp edges with 150 grit paper, and sand all exposed surfaces through 220 grit. If you choose to do so, now’s the time to apply a protective finish of your choice.

3. Finally, load up your cart with adhesives, fasteners, and fastening tools. (To make your own compartments, see “Simple, Shop-Made Compartments,” above) You can design your own tool holders, but I found “slatwall hooks” in my home center that served as perfect hangers for my cordless drivers and pneumatic nailers. 

Online Extras
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