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Patio serving Cart

2012 August Home Publishing Co.

Outdoor Project


Patio Serving Cart

This easy-to-build cart features fold-out leaves, a recessed tray, and customized inserts. Perfect for your next cookout!
When cooking out, there never seems to be enough space for all the stuff that goes along with grilling. I need a spot for all those cooking utensils, platters, and sauces. Then theres the issue of what to do with all the food. So when I first saw the design for this patio cart, I knew I had to build one. With its fold-out leaves, recessed storage area, and an adjustable shelf, theres more than enough space for all the grilling gear and food. The large, heavy-duty casters make it easy to roll wherever I need it and then lock it in place for stability. The construction is straightforward with simple joinery. A special jig helps you assemble the shelves, top, and leaves. All of the slats are identical, so its easy to make a lot of parts with one setup. Knock-down connectors and dowels hold the frame together and make it easy to tighten up the joints if necessary. Finally, I used durable hardwood with a tough exterior finish for long-lasting service.


2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

OVERALL DIMENSIONS: 593/4"W x 24"D x 351/2"H (with leaves open)

{ This handy serving tray is sized to fit snugly in the recessed

area in the top of the patio cart. Youll find all the details for building it on page 10.


2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.



making the Base

If you look at the drawing above and on the following page, youll see that the base is made up of four posts (the legs) and some rails. The nice thing about assembling the base is that you dont need to use glue. Dowels align the end rails. Open mortises in the legs house the cross rails. Connector bolts hold everything in place for a strong assembly. Laminated legs. Youll start by making the legs. Theyre really three pieces laminated together. Its the middle piece that will form the open mortises at the top and bottom of the leg (detail a). When you rip the pieces for the legs, leave them a little wide so that you can trim the leg assembly to final width after glueup. And you can leave the two outer pieces long for trimming later. But cut the middle spacer to final length. This piece determines the correct size for the two open mortises. After the glue dries, trim the legs to width. Then, cut the ends to length. But to make sure the mortises


#/8"-dia. x %/8"-deep hole

#/8"-dia. dowel
!/2 1

NOTE: Dowels centered on thickness of rail

Shop Tip: Dowel Holes

First, clamp > the jig to your drill press table. Then clamp the rail to the fence of the jig. Now you can accurately drill into the ends of the rails.
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A few plywood scraps make a simple jig for drilling the dowel holes in the rail ends.

are the correct depth, measure from the bottom of the mortise, as shown above in detail a. The middle end rails are connected to the legs with dowels. So now would be a good time to locate and drill the holes in the legs for the dowels and connector bolts (lower margin drawing at left). And you can drill the holes for the adjustable shelf pins (upper margin drawing). Now after rounding over the edges, you can set the legs aside and get to work on the end rails. end rails. All of the end rails (and the two handles shown on the next page) are cut to the same length. The handles and the middle rails need dowel holes (detail c). I used the jig shown on the left to make drilling them easier. The top and bottom end rails need a hole for the barrel nut that will be used with the connector bolt.

2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.




I also drilled a counterbored hole at each end of the top rails. These holes will be used to attach the top (detail b, previous page). After chamfering the edges of the rails, you can assemble the end frames. Then you can turn your attention to the top and bottom side rails. These will tie the end assemblies together to create the base. Stretchers. As you can see in detail c above, the ends of the bottom side stretchers are notched. The notched section fits into the legs bottom mortise. The top stretchers

extend past the legs to hold the handles. You can use the drawing below to cut them to shape and drill the dowel holes that hold the handles in place. Like the bottom stretchers, the notch sits in the mortise at the top of the legs (drawing above). Next, you can rout a chamfer on the edges of all four stretchers. base assembly. Now, you can complete the base. You might need some help clamping everything in place. Then you can drill through the legs and stretchers for the

connector bolts, as shown in detail a. The Shop Tip below will help with drilling these holes.

Shop Tip: Drill Guide

Drilling the hole into the top and bottom end rails for the connector bolt is easier after assembly. The predrilled holes in the legs act as a guide. Drill beyond the hole where the barrel nut connects.


2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

c. a.

NOTE: !/16" chamfer on ends of slats !/2




3 #/8" radius 2!/8


!/4 !/2

adding the Top Assembly

#/8 !/2" radius


With the base complete, you can start to work on the top. In the drawings above and on the next page, youll see that the top is made up of three main assemblies. First, theres an open-top frame thats fastened to the base. Below it sits a recessed storage tray. This frame also provides a convenient home for the cutting board and serving tray shown on page 9. Attached to each end of this top frame is a hinged leaf. When the leaves are closed, they form a solid top for the patio cart. When open,
This shop-made > jig (page 11) will help you assemble the shelves and top. It maintains an even spacing between the slat during glueup.

they expose the recessed tray below. The top frame and leaves have grooved rails to hold the slats. Youll start by making these rails. FRAMEPIECES. The rails for the leaves and top frame assembly are the same width. But when you cut them to length, its best to cut the rails a little long (12" or so). Its easier to trim them to the right length after the leaves and top frame are assembled. Now youll need to cut a groove centered in one edge of each rail to hold the slats. Before you make the slats, rout a chamfer on the inside edges of the rails. MAKINGTHESLATS. If you take the time to count them, youll find out that there are 46 slats used for the patio cart. But the nice thing is, theyre all the same size. So it makes sense to cut them all to size at this point and use them as needed. Youll start by ripping the stock for the slats to width. Since each slat will have a 12"-long tenon on each end, you need to take that into account before cutting them to length. Next, you can make the 14"-thick stub tenon centered on each end (detail a above). These tenons should fit snugly in the grooves of the rails for the top frame assembly and leaves, as you can see in detail a. With a V-groove bit and fence mounted on your router table, rout a chamfer on all of the edges, including the ends, as shown in details a and c above. Now, you can start to work on the assembly jig to help with spacing the slats during glueup. ASSEMBLY JIG. With all these slats to glue in place, I knew it was going to be tricky to get everything positioned just right. The goal is to get a


2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.


!/2" lip is formed when tray is attached

Table top fastener

consistent, 14" spacing between the slats. So I made a simple assembly jig to help out (photo, page 5). top frame &LEAVES. The top frame is made up of four slats(two on each end) and the two rails. You can use the assembly jig to space and position the slats. A filler strip is glued into the rail grooves after assembly (detail c, previous page). After removing the clamps, you can trim the ends of the rails flush with the slats and add the hand recesses on the two rails (detail b, page 5). Then round the corners and chamfer the outside edges. The leaves are assembled just like the top, except that youll use six slats. Here again, trim the rails, round off the corners, and add the chamfer before you move on to attaching the hinges.

!/8" x #/8" groove for table top fastener





2!/4 #/4


HINGES . Theres a simple trick to installing the hinges on the leaves and top frame. The box below shows you what you need to know. recessed STORAGE . Below the top frame sits the recessed storage tray. It has vertical ends, narrow side rails, and eight slats, as shown in the main drawing above. When you make the ends, cut a rabbet on the inside bottom edge. This rabbet will fit over the end slat.

Next, you can make the groove that will hold the table top fasteners, as shown in detail b. To assemble the tray, I glued the slats into the side rails first (detail a). After that, you can glue each end rail to the end slat. Now you need to fasten the recessed tray to the bottom side of the top frame. Then you can use screws through the top rails to mount the whole assembly to the base.

How-To: Hinge Mortises

Marking the Mortise. Use the hinge as a template to mark the mortise. Center the hinge knuckle on the gap between the leaf and top.

Drilling the Mortise. Use a 11/4"-dia. Forstner bit to drill out the hinge mortise. Check the depth on a scrap piece first.

Pare Away the Waste. Lastly, carefully remove the waste with a sharp chisel. Aim for a flush fit.

2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.




making the Two Shelves

The last two pieces youll need to make for the cart are the bottom shelf and the middle, adjustable shelf. Since youve already cut all the slats, you just need to make the rails to hold the slats in place. And once again, the assembly jig comes in handy to help out during glueup. The bottom shelf forms a base for the cart, so it comes next. BOTTOMSHELF . The construction of the bottom shelf is a lot like the leaves. Its made from a couple of rails and twelve slats like you see in the drawing above. Like before, you want to leave the rails a little long and trim them flush with the end slats after assembly. Then you can round off the corners and rout the chamfer on the edges. WS16520


{ Notches cut in
the bottom of the middle shelf fit over these shelf supports to keep it from slipping off.

Now, you can drill the screw holes that are used to mount the shelf to the bottom of the base. Then its just a matter of drilling pilot holes and fastening the shelf in place, as shown in detail c above. Next, you can move on to making the middle shelf. MIDDLESHELF. Youll make the middle shelf the same way as the bottom shelf. But here, youre only using 10 slats. And once the shelf is glued-up, I trimmed the ends to fit the inside of the cart frame (detail a). After that, I rounded the corners and routed a chamfer on all the outside edges. SHELFCLIPMORTISES. To keep the middle shelf from sliding off the shelf supports, there are mortises for the shelf supports. These mortises are shown in detail d above. To locate

the mortises, I installed the shelf clips in the legs, placed the shelf on them, then traced around the shelf clips with a pencil. The dimensions shown in detail d will give you some guidelines. To create the mortises, I used the drill press and a Forstner bit to drill a 18"-deep recess. Then clean up the mortises with a chisel like you did with the hinge mortises on the two leaves and top frame. Once the shelves are complete, you can move on to adding the casters and applying the finish.

2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

the final Details

A couple of simple tasks are all thats left to complete the cart. CASTERS . Part of the enjoyment in using this patio cart is its mobility. I chose large casters to make it easier to move over rough surfaces. And to keep the cart steady once I have it in place, the casters have brakes (detail a). I turned the cart upside down on a padded surface and used lag screws to fasten them. DURABLEFINISH . To finish the cart, I used a spray gun to apply several coats of spar varnish thinned with mineral spirits. I let each coat dry thoroughly, then lightly sanded between coats for a smooth, durable finish. If you dont have a spray gun, you can use a brush-on or wipe-on oil


finish thats made for outdoor use. Turn to page 12 for some ideas. To keep your patio cart looking new, its best to wipe it down with a mild cleaning solution and a damp rag occasionally. And I try to wipe

up any spills right away. After all, youll be using it for food preparation and serving, so its important to keep it clean. With a little care, your patio cart will be around for a long time.

Materials List, Supplies, & Cutting Diagram

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Outer Leg Facings (8) Leg Spacers (4) End Rails (8) Lower Stretchers (2) Upper Stretchers (2) Handle Rails (2) Slats (46) Groove Filler Strips (2) Top Rails (2) Leaf Rails (4) Tray Rails (2) Tray Ends (2) Bottom Shelf Rails (2) Middle Shelf Rails (2) #/4 x 2!/4 - 27* #/4 x 2!/4 - 23 #/4 x 2!/4 - 18!/2 #/4 x 2!/4 - 28#/4 #/4 x 2!/4 - 40#/4 #/4 x 2!/4 - 20 #/4 x 2!/4 - 18!/2 !/4 x !/2 - 20!/4 #/4 x 3!/4 - 29#/4* #/4 x 3!/4 - 14#/4* #/4 x 1!/4 - 19#/4 #/4 x 2!/4 - 20 #/4 x 3!/4 - 29#/4* #/4 x 3!/4 - 24!/8*
" x 5" - 84" White Oak (3.2 Bd. Ft.)

" x 5" - 96" White Oak (3.7 Bd. Ft.)

" x 5" - 96" White Oak (3.7 Bd. Ft.)

" x 5" - 96" White Oak (3.7 Bd. Ft.)

* - Cut parts to rough length. Dimensions shown are final dimensions

" x 5" - 96" White Oak (Five boards @ 3.7 Bd. Ft. each)

(8) !/4"-20 x 3!/2" Connector Bolts (8) 10mm-dia. x 16mm Barrel Nuts (2 pr.) Single-Pin Hinges & Screws (4) 5"-dia. Locking Swivel Casters (4) Tabletop Fasteners & Screws (20) #8 x 1!/4" Rh Woodscrews (16) %/16" x #/4" Lag Screws (16) %/16" Washers (24) #/8"-dia. x 1 Dowels (4) Shelf Supports

" x 7"- 96"White Oak (3.6 Bd. Ft.)

" x 7"- 48" White Oak (2.4 Bd. Ft.)


2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

Weekend Projects


outdoor grilling
This serving tray and cutting board are easy to build and can be used alone or with the patio cart.
I enjoy cooking out, so anything that makes it easier is always welcome. And thats why I like this serving tray and cutting board. Besides being easy to build, theyre designed to fit into the recessed storage area on the top of the patio cart as shown above. The serving tray uses simple joinery. The bottom is made from 14"-thick slats with a tongue on each end. These slats fit into grooves cut into the sides of the tray. The end pieces form the tray handles and are fastened with the same knock-down connectors as the patio cart.

For the cutting board, I edge-glued some maple boards using waterproof glue. The juice groove in the top is easy to make using a core box bit and a template. The handy thing about these projects is that they make the patio cart a complete grilling station. But they also look and work great all by themselves.


2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

Serving Tray

To make the tray, youll start with the ends. The pattern thats at the bottom of the previous page will help you lay out the shape. After the end pieces are cut to shape, sand the edges smooth. I wanted to soften the look of the serving tray, so I created a bullnose on the top edge and on the ends. To do this, I used a 38"-radius roundover bit on the router table, as you can see in detail a at right. You can use the same setup to form a bullnose on the inside of the handles. Now you can move on to the sides. First, an 18" groove on the inside bottom edge houses the tongue on the ends of the slats (detail b). And, like the end pieces, I routed a bullnose on the top of the side rails. Next, you can make the eight 14"thick slats. They get a 1 8"-thick tongue on each end, as shown in detail b at right. Youre aiming for a snug fit in the grooves. The assembly jig (page 11) comes in handy for aligning and spacing the slats. You need to trim the width of the two outside slats to fit the side rails. After you glue the slats in place, you can attach the ends with glue and connector bolts.




Cutting Board

The cutting board is made by edgegluing stock to form a wide panel. Youll want to make the panel oversize and trim it later. I cut and arranged the boards for the best appearance and used waterproof glue for assembly. After the glue is dry, you can trim the cutting board to size and sand both faces smooth. To form the handles, first drill a 1"-dia. hole at each end (detail a). Then you can use your jig saw to cut out the waste between the holes. Next, cut a 12" radius on the four corners. After sanding the edges smooth, I routed a bullnose profile on the edges and inside the handles (detail b at right). The last thing to do is create the juice groove on top. Shop Notebook (page 11) shows you how.





2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

tips from our shop

Assembly Jig for Patio Cart
When I was assembling the top and shelves for the patio cart, it was tough to keep all the slats aligned and spaced just right. So I built this jig to help during the assembly and glueup process (photo above). It separates the slats with hardwood spacers to keep a consistent gap between the slats. I used a piece of 34"-thick melamine about 2' wide and 4' long. It keeps the glue from sticking during glueup. You can use a 14" dado blade to make the grooves for the spacers. To properly space the grooves, I used a 14" spacer and a piece of stock the same width as the slats to adjust the location of my rip fence for each cut (Figure 2). The dado blade acts like an index key to locate the fence

for the next cut. Youll need to make at least 12 grooves. The spacers create a 1 4 " gap between the slats during assembly. I planed them for a tight fit in the slots, so you dont need glue.

Routing A Juice Groove

Whether you use the cutting board (page 11) for cutting vegetables or meat, its handy to have a juice groove to keep liquids from spilling off the edge (see photo at right). The juice groove is easy to make with a 12"-dia. core box bit in your router and a 14"-thick template, as you can see in the drawing below. And to guide the router around the template, I used a bushing in my routers baseplate (see detail below).

MAKINGTHETEMPLATE . The template is a rectangular piece of hardboard with a 1/2" radius on the corners. I mounted the template to the cutting board using carpet tape. Youll want to make sure the template is centered on the cutting board. ROUTINGTHEGROOVE . To rout the groove, install the bushing and core box bit in your router. I set the depth of the bit to cut a groove thats 3 / 16" deep. Then its just a matter of routing in a counterclockwise direction

around the template. If youre not using a plunge router, youll need to tip the router to start the cut.




2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

finishing room


Outdoor Finish
It never fails. Every time I build an outdoor project, one of the first questions friends ask is What finish did youuse? The truth is, theres no perfect outdoor finish. All of them will break down over time and need to be renewed. But there are several good options to choose from. Paint. The first is to use paint. Paint protects wood with a thick barrier that blocks out light and water. Its just that after going through a lot of work to build a project with nice wood, its a shame to cover it up. Varnish . Another option is to use spar varnish. This finish forms a tough film over the wood. The downside is that the varnish flakes and peels as it ages. And refinishing it can be a long, tedious job. Oil. Theres one choice that I turn to when I want protection from sun and rain without a lot of fuss. And thats a penetrating oil finish. This finish was made to protect decks and wood siding. It works by penetrating into the wood, without leaving a film. This makes it easy to apply multiple coats. The end result is a water-repellent, fade-proof finish. To handle extreme weather, the finish is made up of a combination of ingredients. It all starts with a light oil base. The thin consistency allows it to penetrate deeply. And its what stops rain and snow from

Keep your outdoor projects looking great year after year with an all-in-one, water-repellent finish.

{ A thin oil finish

soaks in easily for the best protection.
12 WS16520

2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.

soaking in and leading to rot. The main photo on the previous page shows how this works. The most common oil used for the base is tung oil. But some brands use other oils. Penofin, for one, uses Brazilian rosewood oil as the base. Another finish, Cabots Australian Timber Oil contains a combination of tung oil, linseed oil, and longoil alkyds meant for projects made from tropical hardwoods. The Sources list on page 14 can show you where to find these. Mildew. Drenching rains arent the only problems outdoor projects face. Damp conditions can breed mildew which can spoil a project quickly. So, semi-transparent stains include a mildew inhibitor to keep it from getting a foothold. UV Blockers. To stand up to the sun, the stains contains an ultraviolet light (UV) blocker. This light is what breaks down and bleaches the wood fibers to a silvery gray. Its a Stain, Too . Theres one final ingredient. These finishes often include stain pigments. These colors even out variations in materials and tint sun-bleached wood without concealing the grain. (Some examples of these are show in the photo at right.) Because of this feature, they are sometimes called semitransparent stains.

Applying the Finish

Like I said before, one of the biggest advantages to penetrating oils is just how easy they are to apply all you need is a brush. But things can get a little messy. So I like to do my finishing outside. A large, plastic tarp will protect surfaces from drips. A heavy first coat. I find that a brush works well for most projects. But you can spray on the finish (box below). The goal here is to apply a good, wet coat to all parts of the project. Then, after letting it soak in for 20-30 minutes, wipe off the excess. Youll notice that endgrain will suck up the oil like a sponge. So I check back every few minutes to brush on additional finish. Depending on the finish, you may need to apply a second coat. The second coat goes on like the first. Then I let the project dry at least overnight before using it. Refinishing. No finish will last forever outside. So, chances are, youll need to reapply the finish every year or two. The nice thing about a penetrating oil is that renewing it is a pretty simple process. To do this, I like to clean the project first and sand out any scratches or dings. Then, just lay down a new coat like the original application. After letting it dry overnight, its back in business.

Unfinished Cedar

Cedar with Transparent Cedar finish

Unfinished White Oak

Oak with Transparent Natural finish

How-To: Save Time Spraying

You can make applying a penetrating oil finish go a lot quicker if you spray it on. But that doesnt mean you need to invest in expensive spray equipment. Garden Sprayer. In fact, Ive found that an ordinary garden sprayer works perfectly for the job. You can find one at any hardware store or home center. Spraying it on. An outdoor oil finish is light enough that you dont even need to thin it before

filling the sprayer and applying it. Youll notice that the sprayer will lay down a pretty heavy coat, as shown in the photo at right. But that will guarantee that you get good penetration of the stain before wiping off the excess. When youre done, pour leftover stain back in the can. Then clean out the sprayer with paint thinner. This way, you wont gum up the nozzle. I label my sprayer so it wont get used in the garden.
WS16520 2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.


Woodsmith Store 800-444-7527 Rockler 800-279-4441 Cabot 800-877-8246 Penofin 800-736-6346

Project Sources
To get the cart ready for barbecue season, youll need some hardware. I ordered the 5"-dia. total-lock casters (37138), table top fasteners (34215), and 1 " shelf supports (33894), from Rock4 ler. They also carry 312" connector bolts (31864), 118" connector bolts (31831), barrel nuts (31823), and hinges (29157). And if you walk into just about any home center or hardware store, youll probably find a full line of outdoor finishes. But the finishes that I discussed on pages 12-13 were Penofin and Cabot. You can check both of their websites to find a local dealer.



2012 August Home Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved.