The trouble with wheelbarrows
Meet the builder
A former editor at Family Handyman, Spike Carlsen now spends his days dreaming up ingenious DIY projects. Find 75 more of his clever creations in The Backyard Homestead Guide to Building Projects (Storey Publishers).
Wheelbarrows are great for hauling stuff around the yard—unless you’re working on a hill … or trying to negotiate steps and rough terrain … or moving a lot of bulky material like leaves and branch trimmings … or trying to load something big into them.
Spike’s wonder cart
Easy to load
Just tilt the cart forward until the angled front rests on the ground.
Onboard tool storage
Built-in holder keeps all kinds of garden tools handy, from trowels to rakes.
Huge load? No problem
With a capacity of about half a yard, you’ll move more in less trips with this cart than you could with a wheelbarrow.
Since I added this garden cart to my arsenal of outdoor tools, life has gotten way easier. Two wheels means it doesn’t tip; large pneumatic tires means it’s easy to push; a big box lets me haul 10 bags of mulch in one load; and because the front tilts down for loading, my aching back doesn’t ache as much. I’ll still use my trusty wheelbarrow for mixing concrete and hauling the super-heavy stuff, but these days I “cart” nearly everything else.
I designed this cart to be as rugged and durable as any cart you can buy at any price, yet the materials cost about a hundred bucks. It’s one of the wisest landscaping investments you can make.
Round up the materials
You’ll need a straight-cutting jig to cut the plywood. To learn how to make one, watch the video How to Cut Straight with a Circular Saw or check out Create Circular Saw Cutting Guides for Plywood for written instructions. I used exterior plywood and standard pine boards for the structure. You can use treated plywood and lumber, but it may be hard to find treated material that’s dry and flat.
I bought wheels at northerntool.com (item No. 145120). The threaded rod, washers and nuts are available at home centers and hardware stores.
Figure A: Garden Cart
Use this exploded view of the garden cart as a construction diagram. The materials list shows what you’ll need to get in order to build the cart. The cutting list shows you how many of each part you’ll need. Most of the components are cut from a single sheet of plywood (see the plywood diagram).
Video: How to Cut Straight With a Circular Saw
Family Handyman editor, Jeff Gorton, will show you how to make perfectly straight cuts with a circular saw. You will use this circular saw jig over and over again.
Assemble the box
Photo 1: Cut the parts
A homemade straight-cutting jig turns your circular saw into a precision plywood slicer.