Metal utility carts are expensive. For small yards and gardens, they may be too big for the space. Gardeners are left with carting everything around in buckets or boxes. Here are small utility wagons you can make for your garden. You can also use them for camping, taking out the garbage and letting the kids play with them. Hitch several together for a “train.”
I have had a passion for woodworking since I was old enough to saw a board straight. In those days, we had to use handsaws. Most woodworkers did not have a shop full of power tools in the 60s. The 1960s, not the 1860s; I’m not that old.
I love to go camping as well. Putting the two together is fun. Having a small utility wagon to carry my stuff to the beach, campsite or for work around the garden is something I’ve been trying to find. I finally gave up and decided to build my own.
I found a series of pictures on the internet that inspired me. Sadly, the builder’s name is not given on the site. The child’s wagon is the inspiration for my utility wagon.
My wagon will be 18″ wide, approximately 24″ high with 18″ high bed walls and 36″ long. You can change the dimensions to make any size wagon you wish. Mine will not handle large, 30-gallon trash cans.
You will need:
- · Scrap 1-by-4 wood. You can use parts of wooden pallets as well.
- · Plywood sheet, ½” thick or make panels using boards.
- · Four each all-terrain wagon tires, 6″ tall or higher
- · General woodworking tools
- · Marking and measuring tools
- · Aluminum conduit (optional)
- · Plywood trim or wood trim
- · Sandpaper, stain and seal or primer and paint.
- · Aluminum angle or corner braces
- · Four each 3/8″ carriage bolts
- · Box of 3/8″ washers, metal
- · Box of 3/8″ nylon washers
- · Wood dowel or metal handle
- · Box of galvanized decking wood screws, 1 ½” long.
- · T-nuts, 3/8″- one box
- · Construction adhesive- on all joints, “glue and screw” will keep your wagon intact for a long time to come.
- · Two ½” carriage bolts, washers and cap nut. Measure your project for length.
- · T-nuts, ½”
- · One each 3/8″ cap nut
- · Wagon handle
- · One-inch dowel, 36″ long or 2-by-2-by-36 for a wagon handle
You can build the wagons as simple or as fancy as you like. Use found items such as metal grilles to build the sides.
Sand and seal the sides of the plywood as you go. This makes finishing much faster.
Cut the floor of the wagon, 36″ long by 18″ wide. Cut the long sides 18″ by 36.” Attach to the floor with the aluminum angle. This makes a stronger joint. The walls should be on top of the floor. Measure the space and cut the front and back to fit.
The undercarriage can be made by using parts salvaged from a child’s metal wagon. You may or may not find these at a yard sale. If not, you can build your own.
The axle can be made or purchased. Wagon axles can be found online. You must provide a wood or metal sleeve for them to operate. I do mine a little differently.
Cut a piece of wood 12″ by 8.” Cut two pieces of wood 4″ by 8.” Cut these on the diagonal. They will be the brace for the back wheel. Cut a piece 12″ by 4″ Attach to the base piece. The 4″ by 8″ triangles will be attached at the front. Trim at the front if necessary.
Measure and mark 1″ down from the top of the triangle. You will drill through the triangle into the 12″ by 4″ board. Insert and tap a t-nut into place.
Measure the width of the chosen wheel. Select a carriage bolt long enough to go through the wheel, accommodate two washers and into the t-nut.
Your carriage bolt should have a smooth shaft. Some are threaded all the way; you need one that is not.
Attach the wheel base to the underside of the box. Measure 4″ from the edge and center the piece. Attach with galvanized deck screws and construction adhesive.
Cut a piece of wood 8″ long and 4″ wide. Center the piece at the back of the wheel base. Drill a ½” hole through the piece. You can insert a ½” t-nut if you like. This is your hitch.
The tongue is a little trickier, but not by much. This design will allow you to attach a handle or a “hitch” to the tongue. The tongue will be attached to the wagon with the ½” carriage bolt, washer and t-nuts.
Cut a piece of wood 12″ wide by 18″ long. Mark the center of both ends. On one end, mark two inches on each side of the center mark. On that end, mark 8″ down each side. Draw a line from the 8″ mark to the mark 2″ from the center. Cut these pieces off.
Cut a piece of solid wood 2-by-2-by-12. Find the center of the ends and drill a 1″ hole into each. Insert a 3/8″ t-nut. Attach the piece to the 12″ end of the piece.
Use the ½” t-nuts, washers, carriage bolt and cap nut for the following steps.
On the bottom of the box, center a mark 4″ from the edge. Drill through the bottom of the box. Insert a t-nut.
1″ in from the center mark, drill a hold through the piece. Insert a t-nut. Don’t worry; it will all come together shortly.
At the narrow end of the tongue, center and mark a spot 2″ from the end. Drill through and insert a ½” t-nut.
Let’s create the handle. Cut two pieces of wood 8″ long and 4″ wide. Clamp together and drill a hole through the back end of the pieces 2″ from the end and centered. Insert a t-nut into each board.
Place one board on top of the tongue and the other under it. Place the carriage bolt through and secure. Make sure both boards are directly on top of each other.
Cut a piece of wood to fit in the center. It should fit into the pieces, stopping about a ½” from the tongue. This should be solid wood. Glue and screw the piece into place.
Cut two additional pieces of solid wood 5″ long and 4″ high. Hold the dowel or handle between the pieces and mark your drill points. The points should allow the handle to move freely. Drill through the dowel and the two pieces. Insert a carriage bolt through the piece and secure, ending in a cap nut.
Do not glue the tongue to the wagon.
Attach the wheels by inserting a metal washer, nylon washer, the wheel, a nylon washer, metal washer and then securing the wheels to the t-nuts.
Turn the wagon over. Prop the box up until it is level.
Remove the handle and prop up the tongue until it is level. Measure the distance between the tongue and box. Cut 2″ square pieces of wood and drill holes through the center. These pieces will be attached to the box between the wagon and the tongue. The holes will form the insertion point for the inside carriage bolt.
Glue each piece in place and remove any excess.
When dry, thread a metal, then nylon washer onto the carriage bolt. Push it through the hole in the box and through the pieces. Place a nylon washer between the pieces and the tongue. On the other side, place a nylon washer, a metal washer and the cap nut.
Your tongue will now move with the wagon. Attach a handle to the end of the dowel or handle shaft. It can be purchased or made.
You can remove the handle and hitch wagons to each other using carriage bolts. This makes your wagons very versatile and can save you trips between point A and B. It also provides special fun for children.
- · You can use found metal grilles to create the sides.
- · Instead of permanently attaching the sides with aluminum angle or corner braces, use hinges that will allow the sides to fold down. You can use the wagon to transport a power pack or battery to a work site to run 12-volt tools, cookware or appliances for picnics, camping or parties.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse forms of DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.