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Last Updated on April 26, 2021
As summer approaches and the excitement of outdoor cookouts increases, many people look forward to dusting off their grills and getting those BBQs going. With the thrill of these outdoor get-togethers looming, it’s time to think about grilling accessories and any extra equipment that may be needed to accommodate guests.
Cue the DIY grilling cart. A portable table that provides ample space for food prep while allowing you to stay close to the grill to keep an eye on the meat and near your guests so you can socialize.
So, if you’ve got a spare weekend before the grilling season begins, why not try your hand at building your very own DIY grilling cart? This guide provides you with all the detailed instructions needed to construct the perfect alfresco addition for your grill.
Equipment You’ll Need
Before you begin assembling your new DIY project, you need to know what equipment to use. This plan uses cedarwood; however, feel free to use other woods to suit your preference, such as acacia, teak, and oak.
- Two cedar wood planks, 2×6”, 8’ long
- Three cedar wood planks, 1×3”, 8’ long
- Four cedar wood planks, 1×4”, 8’ long
- Four 3” casters – two regular and two locking
- Four 3’ lengths of 2” aluminum angle
- 20x 3½” stainless decking screws
- 40x 3” stainless decking screws
- One box of 2” panhead screws
Tools You’ll Need
- Cordless driver and drill
- Circular saw
- Thread cutting oil (to drill metal)
Don’t forget about safety equipment, including gloves, dust masks, and glasses.
DIY Grilling Cart: Step by Step Guide
Step 1: Build The Top
The first step in this project is to build the top of the cart.
- Cut your 2x6s to 36” in length.
- The completed size of the tabletop will be 36” x 22½.”
- When assembled, the 2x6s cedar wood will be evenly set on top of the frame. Leave enough space to allow the wood to shrink and expand with different weather conditions. Think of it as a picnic tabletop and assemble with this in mind.
- Once you’ve built the top, use the sandpaper to smooth the wood. This will ensure the edges, as well as the surface, are consistent and safe.
Step 2: Assemble the Frames and Structure
The overall structure of this DIY grilling cart will be made from three frames, all cedar 1x3s. Smaller than the tabletop, the frame allows the table surface to have more working room, all without increasing or changing the grilling cart’s overall footprint.
- Cut two 1×3 pieces of wood to 30” in length.
- Cut two 1×3 pieces at 17” for the frame of each shelf.
- Once you’ve cut the frame’s rails, you’ll need to construct them into a final dimension of 30” x 18½”.
- To attach the frame to the cart top, use the 3½” screws to assemble and fit into place.
Step 3: Construct the Shelves
When it comes to making shelves for your grilling cart, there are a variety of ways you can do so, depending on how much storage space you need and whether you want to add an aesthetic element to the design. For this version, 1×4 cedar slats are used.
- Using 8 cedar slats for each shelf, cut to a length of 18½”.
- This will require two 8’ long 1x4s per individual shelf.
- Just like you did with the top and frame, you can assemble the shelves using the 3½” screws.
- Screw through the bottom of the shelving units for a more pleasing aesthetic. This way, you won’t be able to see any DIY work on the top of your shelves.
- Sand each shelf until they are smooth and even.
Step 4: Build The Legs
You can use steel for your legs, however, aluminum not only works just as well, but it is also easier to cut and drill. Sturdy enough to handle over 300 lbs. of weight, the aluminum angle (which you can find online or at your local hardware store) will have no strength or weight problems.
- To build the legs, lay out your screw holes and space them around 1” from each other.
- Flip the other side of the aluminum angle over, and repeat the same method with your holes.
- You’ll then need to decide where you want to place the middle shelf. This is because you’ll need to consider your ash bucket, drinks cooler, or other outdoor kitchen accessories potentially being placed on the bottom shelf. By planning ahead, you’ll know if you will have enough room for your desired items.
- Drill the screws into the metal. Drill slowly to ensure no knocks or drifts.
- When performing this task, ensure you are equipped with your personal protective gear, such as safety glasses and gloves.
- After you’ve cut and drilled the legs, you can paint them before assembling the final cart. It’s easier to do this before assembling the rest of the pieces, as you might need to paint multiple coats to ensure full coverage.
Step 5: Assemble the Rest of the Grilling Cart
- Begin by positioning the legs in place – they should be placed evenly around the bottom shelf in your desired position before you screw them into place.
- Next, install the middle shelf. Be sure to use a tape measure to level it up, as you’ll need to ensure the holes are in the right place.
- All that’s left to do is attach the top to the rest of the cart.
When attaching metal to wood, use pan head screws because they have the strength and capacity to hold the wood. They sit flush with the surface and won’t cause any snags.
Step 6: Paint and Decorate Your DIY Grill Part
This step is entirely down to personal preference when it comes to the varnish or paint color you choose. However, make sure that you seal any knots in the wood with a shellac-based primer and give the entire piece a coat of primer before applying the paint.
Once you’ve painted the cart your dream color, one crucial thing is to finish it with a sealant or oil to preserve the wood. This ensures that the piece can better resist the elements for long-lasting use.
You’ll also need to make sure that the oil or gloss you finish it with is safe to prepare food on, as there’s no doubt you’ll be chopping up vegetables to go with your BBQ.
Once you’ve painted and finished the cart, allow it to cure completely before you use it.
Prep, Cook, and Entertain With a Handy Grilling Cart
Grilling carts are the perfect addition to your outdoor entertainment area and allow you to prepare and cook delicious BBQ dishes without leaving your guests. With a few simple tools and this guide, you have all the information you need to create a stunning cart customized to your needs.