Monday, May 23, 2016

Mobile Modular Storage Cart

After building the lumber storage cart, I need a junk cart. I keep a lot of found items and need to organize it so I can find what I need when I need it.
An unorganized pile of items is a mess, an organized pile of items is a resource library.
I started with the base plan of the lumber cart and tweaked it. I liked the 48"x30" footprint, but needed more organization.
I also was storing paint cans on a deep shelf, which created a jumble of cans that made it difficult to find what I needed when cans would get pushed to the back of the shelf. This cart was going to have narrow storage specifically for paint cans so that I could easily sort and find them.

Then I redid the plan. Instead of bins on one side, I added a french cleat system that would provide much more storage while not taking up additional floor space. With the cleat system, it's modular to where I can rearrange the bins if necessary. I can work out of a drawer and move it to the top cleat for ease of use.

You can transfer the paint storage and french cleat ideas to wall storage. The paint storage can be fitted with a cleat to hang on the wall. With wall cabinets, bins, and storage on a cleat system, rearranging a wall in the shop becomes much easier.

  • (2) 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" plywood
  • (2) 4'x8' sheets of 1/2" MDF. I used MDF, but it's prone to splitting and delaminating. Use 1/4" or 1/2" plywood. It's less weight and less hassle.MDF doesn't hold screws as well.
  • (2) Rigid Casters
  • (2) Swiveling & locking casters
  • (16) 1" screws for casters
  • (5) .25"x.5"x4' aluminum channel
  • 2" bugle head screws for assembly at perpendicular connections
  • 1.25" bugle head screws for assembly through 2 sheets of plywood
  • wood glue
  • circular saw
  • router and 3/4" double flute straight bit
  • drill/driver
  • 4' level or straight edge for a circular saw guide
  • face clamps to secure straight edge
  • tape measure
  • pencil
Cut List:


  • (1) 2.5x4' base with dados for vert storage 
  • (2) 2.5'x3" base brace
  • (2) 3.5x3" base brace
  • (1) 4'x4' vertical center wall with 4' full length dados for shelves space at 1'3/8", 10",10",11"
  • (3) 4'x3" vertical shelf supports with dados to match
  • (4) 1'3.25"x4' shelving
  • (2) 4"x4' paint shelf sides
  • (4) .75"x3'10.5" paint can bumpers
  • (5) 1"x4'x.125" aluminum bar to hold cans
  • (28) 1.75"x1'10" french cleats cut at a 45 on one edge

    Large Bin (4)
    • (1) 10x1'11" front
    • (1) 8.75x1'10 base
    • (2) 10x10 sides
    • (1) 10x1'10back

    Small Bin (8)
    • (1) 4x1'11" front
    • (1) 8.75x1'10 base
    • (2) 4x10 sides
    • (1) 4x1'10back
I started in Sketchup, refining the design and generating a cut list. There are 12" wide by 10" tall shelves in the middle, narrow paint can storage on one side and (12) removable bins on the other side.
I used a 4' level clamped to the plywood as a guide to make cuts.
The foot print is 30"x48". I used glue and screws at all connections. The base is a piece of 30"x48" plywood, braced with (4) 3" wide piece of plywood along the perimeter at the bottom. A caster is at each corner. I cut in 3/4" dados to aid in the build up. It's also more surface area which means more area for glue to grip between shelves and supports.
The depth of the paint storage is 3.75"
This side of the shelves are open. The bins will eventually cover this side anyway. Even the narrow vertical supports have a dado for the shelves. I clamped the three together for the dado to ensure a uniform dimension. The dados allow for strong shelves that won't move.
I used clamps to fine tune the dimensions for the paint can storage. The wood bumpers and aluminum channel are mounted at 12" on center.  The aluminum channel is mounted 3" above the top of the bumper. Clamp the pieces and check the dimensions and placement.
The bumpers are in place. I used 1.25" long screws so that they wouldn't go through both sheets of plywood.
With the (14) cleats in place it's time for the bins.I did not glue the cleats in place. They are only screwed, in case I need to shorten them for the shelves. I did have to shorten (3) of them by just a hair.
This is how the bins are held in place. The cleats fit at a 45* angle and just hang.
I painted the entire thing gray. Paint provides a protective surface and I like it, so there.
I painted a stylized Punisher logo on the cabinet. Unfortunately the paint cans cover the logo, so I painted the same logo onto the front of the bins.That also keys the bins so I don't rearrange them and continually look in the wrong drawer that I switched out.
I can finally see all of my paint cans, though not the skull. Deep shelving just doesn't work for paint cans. The aluminum angle does have a bit of flex at 4'-0" long. A support in the middle would all but reduce it, but the flex is minimal and is not a problem.
I used MDF for the bins. I liked how smooth MDF is but I forgot how much I hate working with it. This is 1/2" so it's even more prone to splitting and delaminating as compared to the 3/4". If i was doing this again, I'd use plywood, 1/4" probably would have been sufficient.
I was going to dado the joints, but MDF tears to easily. I also would have liked to do a finger joint, but again MDF doesn't route well. Everything is butt jointed and glued.
All of the bins are in place. It really needs some paint, maybe a skull.There isn't much room between the bins. My cut list calls for 4" deep bins, but  I made them 5" for extra storage. Keep it at 4" so you can remove them easier. An extra inch goes a long way for gripping the box and removing it. I maybe cut an inch off the top of each box depending on the hassle.
The bins slide right off. It makes for quick rearranging so you don't have to stoop down to the bottom bin every time if you're working out of it. Or you can put the bin right on your workbench. The cleats provides a lot of flexibility.
The cleat does need to be recessed. The extended sides contact the cart and keep the bin level. Otherwise, it would hang down.
Here is my cart on the start to being junked up.
Make a cart or make wall storage. You could even make a cabinet. Narrow storage is the way to go for paint cans so you can see all of them at one time. French cleats make rearranging much easier.
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