Tool and Die Cart

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When Steve Johnson, of Washington Court House, Ohio, decided to replace his old and rickety commercially made mechanic's cart, he had a long list of design criteria in hand. Johnson, a professional tool and die maker, wanted the cart to have a full bank of smooth-running, full-extension drawers. These drawers would need interior partitions to encourage organization, a locking system that was easy to operate, and no protruding pull hardware (at least below the height of 30 in.). To contain his tools, the new cart would have to be at least as large as the biggest commercial mechanic's chest: 44 in. tall by 39 in. wide by 24 in. deep. Finally, and perhaps most important, Johnson insisted that the new cart be designed to withstand the rigors of everyday use in a busy commercial workshop.

To meet the last requirement, Johnson decided to build the case around an internal framework of 2-in. thick by 2'/2-in. wide walnut. This design element would make the fully loaded cart highly resistant to racking when being pushed. But the sudden braking of a wheel against an obstruction can also produce severe stresses on the structure of a rolling cart. Since the shop's floors were littered with everything from bottle caps to extension cords, Johnson installed 4-in. diameter soft rubber casters so the cart would roll over the debris rather than being stopped by it.

The cart also features a galley rail around the top to keep tools from rolling off, slide-out extension tables to either side, an inlaid granite surface plate (to provide a true flat surface for tool and die work) and replaceable corner protectors. Johnson chose maple for the drawer sides for one particular reason: The light-colored wood stands out sharply against the darker walnut drawer face, acting as a highly visible warning flag when a drawer is left open. Finally, to protect the walnut surfaces of the cart from the solvents commonly used in his work, Johnson used a three-step wipe-on polyurethane finish.

A Shop in a Box

Mot satisfied with a straightforward rolling bank of drawers, sign maker Chris Wanlass, of Pleasant Grove, Utah, decided to add compartments for bulky tools such as panel saws, long planes and squares. To keep out dust and provide security, he enclosed the compartments behind V-i-in. hardwood-plywood doors. Although these compartments add length and depth to the cart, they also add considerable versatility, allowing Wanlass to transport a full range of hand tools throughout the shop. The metal rub rail that runs around the base of the cart would be a hazard around casework, but it isn't a problem for a sign maker, and it certainly ensures that the cart won't be damaged in its travels.

Chris Wanlass

Chris Wanlass' carl is 42 in. wide by 251/2 in. deep by 3572 in. high. Photos by William Sampson.

Chris WanlassChris Wanlass

On William Tandy Young's cart, a slotted drawer insert that holds individual chisels in place. Tansu drawer pulls give an Oriental flavor to the cherry and bird's eye maple chest. A compartment at the back of the chest holds larger tools. Photos by Vincent Laurence.

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