…but I made my lady a cool vintage industrial style cart for the kitchen.
AND YOU CAN TOO!
MrsDIY and I love the look of vintage/antique industrial pieces and though we have a large kitchen, we have little counter space so after getting an idea of what she wanted, I set about planning to build a cart that would fit the role while looking like it was salvaged from an abandoned factory from the turn of the last century.
I used LibreCAD to make a simple plan and to help me figure out how much material I needed. The measurements are all in inches (Murican) and the plan was to use 2 inch x 1/8 inch angle iron because it looks heavy and chunky but wouldn’t weigh a ton. Our counters are 36-1/2 inches high so I designed the frame to take into account the thickness of the lumber (1-1/2 inches) as well as the height of the casters on bottom (3 inches).
The project will need the following cuts made:
- Six 48 inch pieces. (Mitered cut)
- Four 32 inch pieces. (Square cut)
- Six 20 inch pieces. (Mitered cut)
So I mathed and figured out I’d need 536 inches (roughly 45 feet) of angle iron which, through my supplier, wouldn’t be too bad cost wise. However, there’s a couple things to consider when you buy material for a project like this:
- Mistakes happen. If you buy on the exact amount you need and you screw up a cut, you’ve got to take the time to get more material which is a huge pain.
- Material comes in set lengths/sizes and however you cut the material from your set lengths may or may not come out in a way that evenly uses all your material. For example: you can’t get three 6 foot long pieces from two 10 foot pieces of lumber. Careful planning can help minimize this issue but I’m not always the most careful planner.
So with these factors in mind, I chose to purchase 50 feet from my supplier which gives me a little more than 10% extra (the normal waste/loss buffer added to project estimates). Also, my supplier only had 1-1/2 inch x 1/8 inch angle in stock in the amount I needed so I went with that and stuck with the same plan as it doesn’t really change any of the important dimensions.
And it was beautiful….
I decided to miter the ends on the frame portions and used a buddy’s metal cutting horizontal bandsaw to make the cuts. You could just as easily use an abrasive chop saw, reciprocating saw with a metal blade and a guide, or even a hack saw and some elbow grease. If none of those options sound great to you, your supplier may be able to make the cuts for you for a fee.
Any time you’re using a power saw, watch the blade for deflection or “snaking” which normally indicates you’re feeding it too fast. Band saws and abrasive saws are especially prone to this.
Once you cut the first piece of each dimension you can use it as a pattern for the others to speed things along but always use the same piece as a pattern each time so that if there is a slight length error that error doesn’t grow larger and larger with each successive piece.
When I was all done cutting the pieces, I checked to make sure the lengths were correct then used the saw again to cut about 1/4 inch off the very end off each mitered piece because they were going to be welded on the inside of the legs and the inside of angle iron isn’t square.
The next task was to take the 48 inch long pieces and the 20 inch long pieces and assemble 3 rectangles. I checked and rechecked the squareness before tack welding them, then squared them again if heat distortion caused any issues.
(We just won’t talk about my messy garage.)
The next step was to lay the legs (32 inch long pieces with square cuts) on the floor and start lining up the rectangles. Again, I set the pieces square then tack welded then double checked the squareness and made any adjustments as needed… with a hammer.
I used old weights to hold stuff in place while I welded them which totally counts as working out with weights.
Once all three rectangular frames were tacked in place on the bottom and I was happy with the dimensions, I flipped the whole thing over and repeated the same process, constantly checking for squareness.
After the frame was all done I went back through and welded the joints permanently.
In keeping with the industrial theme, I took four 3 inch long pieces and attached them to the bottom rectangular frame as outriggers for the casters. Once they were welded in place, I drilled them and welded a nut to the top side for the threaded caster. I threaded the caster through the hole then welded a nut to the top so the whole thing can be adjusted for height leveled. I also used a grinder to round off the ends and all the sharp corners.
Once the frame was assembled, I used a flap wheel disc on my angle grinder to clean up the edges and welds. I also knocked off any sharp corners since this cart was going to go in our kitchen and I have growing kids who aren’t always the most graceful.
I had some scrap material laying around so I added braces in the middle of each frame because I was having fun welding.
For the table and shelves, I went with cheap stud grade lumber to keep with that down and dirty, vintage industrial theme. Starting at the top, the shelves were made of:
- Six 5 foot long 2x4s
- Five 4 foot long 2x4s
- Five 4 foot long 2x4s
After I cut the lumber to length, I laid them out and made sure they were all square then drilled and bolted them to the top section the frame. I drilled holes in the two lower shelves and and used screws inserted from the bottom for a clean look.
After it was all assembled, I sanded the lumber then used a terrifyingly awesome propane weed burner I bought to char the wood slightly to give it that old and rustic look.
The last thing left to do was cover it in clear coat to protect it and let it dry. MrsDIY absolutely loved it and it has taken a welcome place in our kitchen, adding some much needed work space.
I’d like to thank my son/work-buddy for helping me on this project too.
[After much prodding by friends and family, I’ve decided to hang a shingle and start a blog where I sell stuff like this cart, custom BBQ grills, etc. Check out Pig Iron Industrial Vintage for info on this cart as well as other fun stuff I have for sale. If you have something specific in mind, shoot me an email and we can see if I can make it happen for you. Thanks!]