Flip Top Cart as a skills builder

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Project by bbasiaga posted 01-13-2013 03:41 AM 3087 views 7 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is another flip top cart. After getting a few new tools, space was at quite a premium. So i decided I needed to build one of these. I looked at many designs here at LJ, and as seems to be the custom I borrowed many ideas.

I started drawing a plan in Sketchup, and originally figured I’d pocket hole the whole thing for speed and ease. Then I decided that I could use this project to practice with my new tools. I modified the design to what you see here.

The lumber is cheap 2×4 and 2×6 stuff from Home Depot. I cut the pieces a few inches long, than I put my new jointer to use flattening it out, then planed it down with my planer. I edge jointed all the pieces as well. As this was my first time using the jointer it was great practice. It is amazing how much of a difference it makes. The pieces all ended up about 1.25” thick from the 1.5 they started, but they were all uniform and laid well together on the table.

With the pieces all milled, I set up my router table and cut a groove in each piece to accept the plywood panels. This was my first time using this technique and it was good to get the practice with both the technique and the set up of my tools to use it.

For the panels I used 1/2” Sandply from Home Depot (note, its not quite 1/2” thick). It is cheaper than some of their other stuff, but does not seem to be lesser in quality. This is the first time I used it. I have most of a sheet left over so I’ll surely use some again.

With the grooves cut, I then squared the ends of the pieces on my table saw and cut them to final length. I then cut some tenons on the ends of the two uprights, and the bottom cross members. These fit in to the same width slot as the plywood. I did this because I’d never used a tenon joint before, and figure it would be good practice. Since its not a pretty piece, it doesn’t really matter if they weren’t perfect (and a couple weren’t). Better to learn here than on an expensive piece of hardwood.

I glued up the sides, and then attached them together with the stringers. There is another sheet of ply in there to form a bottom shelf. The stringers are pocket holed in. I have to say, pocket holes are so easy and the joint is strong. They are somewhat less elegant than the other joints I’m learning, but the pull of the dark side is strong! In this case, it made the assembly very easy and was a pretty clear choice.

The top is three sheets of the plywood. The middle sheet is two pieces, together a half inch short, which leaves room for the half inch steel pivot rod. Since the plywood is not quite an even 1/2”, I had to get the router out and cut a very shallow groove in the bottom and top pieces to allow them to sit flat around the rod. The whole thing is glued together. The rod extends through the sides and hangs over about 1/2”. It ties the top together nicely. I sunk two bronze bushings I found at Lowes in there, so the rod isn’t bearing directly on the soft wood.

My D0ewalt 735 sits on one side, and my old Crafstman sander the other. They are bolted through the table. The hold downs are made of some 3/4” Baltic Birch Plywood I had laying around. The overall height of the work surface is about 34”...standard counter top height. It makes the sander a little tall for my wife at 5’4”, but gives good control of the boards going through the planer. Both are good working height for me at 6’4”.

I haven’t finished it yet, as its about 20degrees F in my garage right now. That’ll have to wait until Spring. All in all, it was a great learning project. I’m already drawing up my next project, which will use some of what I’ve learned building this.



-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

10 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117342 posts in 3782 days

#1 posted 01-13-2013 03:54 AM

Good job very useful

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View SouthHollow's profile


66 posts in 2686 days

#2 posted 01-13-2013 06:20 AM

well that’s a handy idea, and nice write-up.

Once the weather warms up, how were you thinking about finishing it?

-- Alex, Los Angeles

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2395 days

#3 posted 01-13-2013 01:12 PM

great cart,it turned out great.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3072 days

#4 posted 01-13-2013 01:34 PM

That’s a practical piece of shop furniture and will save you some room. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2212 days

#5 posted 01-13-2013 03:28 PM

That DW735 weighs in at about 90 lbs. I’m wondering when you open the cleats and start to rotate the table, does that thing almost take your arm off as it spins toward the bottom?

Nice build on the table.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2316 days

#6 posted 01-13-2013 04:25 PM

Great Job! Some go with the rotating cart other (like me) with shelving units to hold the tools.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View bbasiaga's profile


1240 posts in 2200 days

#7 posted 01-13-2013 04:52 PM

Soouthhollow, i will probably just do a couple of coats of poly. That’ll keep it protected pretty well all year out there. Since this is a skills building project though, i was also thinking of shellac, since I haven’t worked with that before. I need to read up on it a little first.

As far as the weight of the planer, the planer itself is actually balanced pretty well on the center of rotation. The harry part is when the table is perpendicular to gravity. You’ve got to have good hand on it. I can release the clamps and it will actually stay put, though I always keep a hand on it just in case.

The sander i couldn’t get balanced at all. It might weigh 30lbs or so, and its 90% on the motor end. Without the planer, that one would flip over on its own.

The two together work pretty well.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Grumpymike's profile (online now)


2335 posts in 2520 days

#8 posted 01-13-2013 06:11 PM

I have the same Craftsman sander and have replaced the off/on switch a couple of times. The first I bought from Sears at $20+ and shipping. Grizzley has the same switch for $4 and change. So when the need arises …
FYI this is the same switch as found on the Rigid TS, Rigid Spindle sander, Craftsman DP, and many more.

I saved so much money that I can buy another board now.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View drfisherman's profile


33 posts in 3375 days

#9 posted 01-17-2013 01:35 AM

terrific – any helpful hints on figuring out the pivot point….

-- "The worst day fishing is better than the best day working!"

View bbasiaga's profile


1240 posts in 2200 days

#10 posted 01-17-2013 04:21 AM

Here is what I did:

I put the planer on top to make sure it would clear both of the sides, and still be inside the envelope of the cart when flipped down. Then I bolted it. In other words, i didn’t worry about balancing it on the pivot point. I was relying on my hold downs to be able to hold the load if it was somewhat imbalanced. They can, btw. As it turns out, it is balanced enough that even without the sander on the other side it stays put.

If you wanted to place the center of gravity right on the pivot point, what you could do is tip up the planer and place your pivot rod underneath. Then slide it back and forth until the planer almost wants to balance right on it. Mark the planer with a sharpie, then place that mark on the centerline of the board when you go to bolt it down. The planer is pretty well balanced front to back.

The sander, incidentally, has like 80% of its weight at one end, and is hard to balance.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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