The big problem in a one-man shop is there are only two hands and one back. And that one back gets tired after years of lugging sheets of plywood around (or worse, particleboard). I was flipping through an industrial material handling catalog (I really need to get a life) when I saw a metal cart designed to carry sheet goods. The light bulb went off, and I headed to the shop.
After two tries I came up with this design that moves sheet goods easily, has a tight turning radius (for small shops) and a kickstand to hold the sheet in place while I get into a non-back-injuring position to throw it up on the saw.
The idea is simple, made from shop scraps and glued and screwed together. It all rolls on one fixed caster and one swivel caster for super maneuverability. I purchased the casters from a home center store right off the rack. They shouldn’t set you back more than $20. To make the swivel caster swing properly, the entire rack is canted 10 degrees, so you only need to tip the carrier a degree or so to make movement possible.
Begin construction by cutting the mounting block and support block to size, beveling one edge to 10 degrees on each piece. In gluing and screwing the pieces together, I recommend pre-drilling clearance holes to avoid splitting the wood, and to generally make things easier. Screw the two pieces together, centering the support block on the mounting block as shown in the diagram. Next, attach the carrier lip to the support block. You will find that beveling or rounding over the back edge of the carrier lip will keep it from dragging while the carrier is in motion. Use a router or block plane to soften this edge.
Now mount the casters to the mounting block as shown. The closer to the back edge, the easier the tip will be. Next I trimmed 6″ x 6″ corners off the top of the back panel to reduce the weight. You’re now ready to screw the back panel in place to both the support and mounting blocks. It’s not a bad idea to run a couple of nails up through the carrier lip into the back panel as well.
With the back panel in place, cut a 10-degree bevel on the bottom end of the handle and, if you choose, round over the top to match the shape of the dowel-stock grip. Attach the handle to the center of the back panel, then mount the grip to the top of the handle. Use a long and heavy screw to support the grip, as this is where much of the stress occurs.
You’re almost ready for a test drive, but first, add the little spacing block to the front side of the handle at the top. This will keep a full 4′ x 8′ sheet from trying to walk off the leading edge of the carrier lip.
The last step is to add the kickstand. This is simply a piece of poplar radiused at one end and bolted to the underside of the mounting block. A small handle is attached to the opposite end of the stand so the stand can be reached and extended easily.
You’re ready to roll. It might take a little practice to get the feel of the proper tip angle for best performance, but after a sheet or two you’ll get a handle on it — get it? The handle. Sorry. Anyway, enjoy your project and save your back. PW
– David Thiel