One of the best parts of starting a new year is seeing everyone’s new years resolutions. After the holidays, I usually have an itch to get our house organized and back on a normal routine. Our small house is lacking dedicated storage and organization spaces in general, but one area that was particularly a mess was our front closet organization. We have two front closets flanking the entry into our living room, but at just 14 inches deep, I’ve struggled with what to use these closets for. They’ve held coats (on hooks), shoes, crafts, mops and brooms, you name it. But they’ve never had a clear purpose and inevitably become a dumping ground for lose odds and ends. So instead of trying to use them as coat storage, we converted a closet to a standing desk. We needed a storage solution that maximized the space under the desk, and decided that our best option was to build a custom sized cart. Read below for the how-to details.
- 4 – 12 x 36 inch prefab, prefinished shelves
- 2 – 12 x 48 inch prefab, prefinished shelves
- 4- 2 inch swivel plate casters
- Handle for cart (ideally, with a 3.5-4.5 inch center-to-center measure)
- Screws or nails
- Optional: Finishing nailer
- Tape measure
Build the Storage Cart
Before running out to Home Depot, here are a few things to keep in mind. This cart is not intended to be used for heavy duty storage or movement around the house or workshop. It was designed to accommodate mobile storage within a small space. And for that use, it functions perfectly! My husband plans to build a more heavy duty cart later, so stay tuned for a post on that.
Instead of buying refinished shelves, you can start with a sheet of plywood and cut the pieces to your desired size and finish it in the desired color. To save time, we opted to start with the refinished shelves. An additional advantage was that the shelves were already the size we needed to fit our space. You can use screws to assemble the cart, or if you have access to a finishing nailer, that is preferred (the nails hide better than the screws). Here is a picture of the finished cart parked right outside it’s home, the mini office closet.
Step 1: Attach top and bottom shelves. Since the shelves are pre-cut, the first step is to attach the top and bottom shelves. We started by screwing the bottom shelf (12×36 piece) to the vertical side pieces (12×48 pieces). You may want an extra set of hands for this step to hold the pieces in place. You will need to hold the to vertical pieces up, and hold them together while you screw or nail them into the horizontal bottom shelf. We attached the bottom shelf by inserting screws from the outside of the vertical pieces into the edge of the horizontal piece. If you have a Kreg jig, you could also drill pocket holes into the bottom of the horizontal piece and attach that way. My husband managed to do this himself on his workbench by propping the pieces up against the wall next to the bench. Be careful once you get the first piece attached, as the side pieces may still fall over.
Step 2: Attach the top horizontal shelf. The next step is to attach the top horizontal shelf (the top of the cart, another 12×36 piece). Align the shelf flush to the top edges of the two vertical sides. It may be helpful to flip the result of Step 1 upside down to do this part, such that the top piece is resting on your work surface. Repeat the process to nail/screw the top shelf in place. Now you should have the basic frame of the cart. It will be flimsy, but that will be fixed when you attach the other two horizontal shelves.
Step 3: Attach the remaining shelves. When attaching the horizontal shelves, you’ll want to make sure they are level, and properly spaced. To attach the first shelf, my husband took two plastic storage bins, set them on the bottom shelf, and then set a 2×4 piece of spare wood on top of them. Then, set another 12×36 horizontal shelf on top of that. This should provide a level shelf at the desired height within the cart. Repeat the process from the first two steps to screw/nail the shelf into place. Repeat this process with the remaining interior shelf, and the result will be the cart structure with the four horizontal pieces in place.
Step 4: Add the casters. Flip the cart over and attach the casters to the bottom with screws, one in each corner. Be sure to swivel the casters before you screw them on, so you can see how the wheels will look once attached (you may not want them to extend outside of the basic “footprint” of the cart. With the casters attached, flip the cart over again. Push it around to make sure that the cart functions as desired.
Step 5: Attach the handle. The last step is to attach the handle. We used a basic drawer handle from Home Depot. You’ll need to measure two holes to pre-drill all the way through one of the vertical sides. Then, attach the handle using the provided screws through the drilled holes. Here’s a better picture of the side of the cart with the handle:
The best part about this cart is that it tucks into the little corner of our closet. This buys us an extra six inches of storage, but with the closet opening only 32 inches wide in total, that’s a LOT of extra space! So far, the cart is used to store office odds and ends (envelopes, stamps, pens, small devices, etc). It also holds my Amazon packages that are waiting to be returned (I know, its a problem, ha!). Would this cart work in your home? What would you use it for? I’d love to hear in the comments below!