Sunday, May 27, 2007

How Long Does it Take to Build a Whizbang Garden Cart?

Life is busy. Most all of us have a lot going on, especially if we are active in the garden or on a homestead. That means, if you need a garden cart, you probably don't have time to make your own. That's what you might be thinking to yourself as you consider this project. But, listen to me here.... you really should take the time for this little project. Let me tell you why:

First, the garden cart you make, using my step-by-step plans, is going to be a whole lot better cart than you can buy. It is stronger and tougher and more versatile. I have posted several stories to this blog illustrating these qualities. And I'll have a lot more stories to post in the weeks ahead.

Second, you should build this cart because you're going to be very pleased with yourself after you are finished. I say that at the risk of sounding trite or hokey because it's just plain true. Modern men (and women) rarely build things with their own hands and skills anymore. It's a whole lot easier to simply purchase all of our needs and wants, already prepared for us, from some place that specializes in fulfilling our needs and wants. But something important is lost when we do that. We loose the pleasure of creating with our own hands. We loose that quality of life that comes with creating for ourselves.

Third, your example is going to inspire others. When your friends and relatives see your homemade Whizbang Garden Cart, they are going to admire it and ask about it. You're going to tell them you made it yourself, and this will absolutely amaze them because nobody makes their own garden cart. As they take a closer look at your cart, one of two things will enter their mind. They will either see how simple the cart design is and begin to think that maybe they could actually build such a cart themselves, or they are going to think that maybe you can make them a cart too. This is where you tell them about my Whizbang Garden Cart plan book. You can even loan them your copy of the book (but I'd rather you encouraged them to buy their own copy from me). Whatever the case, you will have inspired your fellow man.

Fourth, and finally, you should build your own Whizbang Garden Cart because it is so doggone easy to do when you follow my plans, AND the project really won't take you all that long to complete.

If you have some basic woodworking tools and skills and experience, you can make the cart in a few hours. If it weren't for the need to wait for the polyurethane glue to dry before proceeding to different steps, I could personally build one of these garden carts in three hours. But, yes, I'm a master Whizbang Garden Cart Builder, so that's not a fair time to tell you.

So how about twice that--Six hours. Spread out over a few evenings, so the glue can have time to dry between steps. I think that amount of time will suffice for most folks.

Now, let me quickly add one caveat... if you are building the garden cart with a child or grandchild you don't want to rush it. Building a Whizbang Garden Cart is an excellent adult-child building project, and when that is the case, forget the time. Some things are just more important.

Oh, one more thing. We'll call it reason #5 for why you need to take time to build your own Whizbang Garden cart... It's a downright good value. You can build your own Whizbang Garden Cart for less than the cost of a factory-made cart, a cart that isn't nearly as solid and durable as the Whizbang.


If you would like to learn more about the Whizbang Garden Cart and purchase a copy of the book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart, CLICK HERE.

What Are The Dimensions of The Whizbang Garden Cart?

My Whizbang Garden Cart is modeled after the old Garden Way Model #26, which is widely considered to be the best garden cart ever made. The Whizbang is, however, not an exact replica.

In the process of developing a cart that could be made by the average person with common woodworking tools and skills (instead of not-so-common metalworking tools & skills), and a cart that made efficient use of the fewest amount of materials, I needed to make some design modifications. But the Whizbang cart I came
up with maintains the three most endearing features of the old Model #26.Those features are a large carrying capacity, light weight, and great balance.

That said, many people who are interested in making their own Whizbang Garden Cart wonder what the cart’s actual dimensions are. Here are some of the critical measurements:

The total length of the cart, including the handle, is 69”

The total width of the cart, whcih means the distance from the end of the tire axle on one side to the end of the tire axle on the other side, is around 43-3/4”

The height of the cart from ground to the top of the plywood side is 28-3/4”

The inside-the-box height of the sides is 11-3/8"

The inside width of the plywood box (between both sides) is 33”

The length of the bottom of the cart, inside the box, is 48”

The length of the cart side panels is 43”

The clearance under the cart is 12-3/4”

I hope that helps those of you who are needing to know the dimensions of this cart.

To learn more about the cart and find out how you can order a copy
of my 45-page Whizbang Garden Cart construction manual, CLICK HERE

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Whizbang Garden Cart?

I was motivated to build my own garden cart after purchasing a good-quality, made-in-the-USA garden cart. Why, you might wonder, would I want another cart after just buying one? Because once I realized how incredibly useful and versatile one of these
two-wheeled, large capacity carts were, I knew I could use another.

As I explain in the Introduction to my Garden Cart plan book, I paid a total of $255 (shipping included) to buy that first factory-made cart. Current prices (including shipping) for such carts range from $260 to $320.

It is, of course, possible to get cheap Chinese versions of the cart. But when I buy or make something like a garden cart, which will see a lot of hard use on my homestead, I want it to be a solid and dependable tool for many years--preferrably a lifetime. This will not be the case with a cheap import garden cart. But it will be the case with a Homemade Whizbang Cart.

Bearing that in mind, let me tell you that making your own Whizbang Garden Cart will cost you less than buying one of those factory-made-in-the-USA models. And you will end up with a far better cart too. The Whizbang is more
sturdy and durable than any of the competition, while, amazingly, weighing in a couple pounds less. Now, as for how much it will actually cost you to build your own Whizbang Garden Cart, that will depend on how you approach the project.

If you decide to purchase all new parts to build your cart, you can expect to pay just under $200 for all the materials. However, there are ways to significantly reduct your expenditure for parts.

For example, I budget $18 for a 36” length of aluminum angle which gets cut into 16” lengths (with a hacksaw) and goes on the front corners of the cart. The angles serve as corner guards. That price is for brand new angle bought at Home Depot. A little imaginative scrounging at garage sales could turn up something else that could be used for the corner guard. You could even make it out of pieces of wood. You would save yourself $18 and the total cost for the cart materials would then be less than $182.

Then there is the wood dowel handle on the cart. I allocate $2.85 for this item. An old broom handle or other scrounged length of dowel-like wood will suffice, and that would bring the price of your cart materials down to less than $179.15.

Then there are the 1x4 boards neeed to build the cart. You’ll need four, 8-foot long, 1x4 pine boards to build your cart. I tell you to get two select quality (no knots) boards for the handles and two #2 quality boards for the other wood parts. Select boards cost 81 cents a foot (total: $12.96) and #2 boards cost 44 cents a foot (total: $7.04). If it happens that you already have some appropriate board material that you can utilize, you can further reduce your material cost by $20.00, which brings your total material cost down to less than 159.15.

The same thing goes for the one 8-foot-long 2x4 needed for this project. If you already have some 2x4 pieces that will do the job, you can save $3.00. Total cost for materials then goes to less than $156.15.

How about stain? I recommend that you paint your cart with a protective coating of wood preservative stain. I allocate $18 for this expense. Do you already have stain that you can use? If so, your cost of materials goes down to less than $138.15. If you don’t have any stain, perhaps you can find a can (or even a partial can) for next to nothing at a garage sale.

How about wood screws? You’ll need 100 at 1” long, 50 at 1-1/4” long and 25 at 2-1/2” long. Common drywall screws will suffice. If you already have these, you can save a few bucks more on the cost of wood screws.

The point I’m making here is that since the Whizbang Garden Cart is made of commonly available materials, there is a good chance you either have some of the components already on hand, or you can easily scrounge them. A little bit of scrounging on your part can reduce the price significantly.

In the Materials chapter of my cart plan book, I discuss The Scrounge Challenge. Here is a quote:

If you don’t already have a lot of the cart materials already on hand, I suggest you begin to collect the parts you need by visiting garage sales, junk stores, and thrift shops. Ask your friends and relatives if they have some of the needed components. You will be surprised what is lying around in garages and backyard junk piles, especially if you live in a rural area. If someone has something you need, make a trade.

I believe you can find just about every cart component, except the tires, from a season of focused cart parts scrounging. You should be able to purchase parts for pennies on the dollar this way. It’s a great little challenge.

If you have children or grandchildren, you can get them involved in the Scrounge Challenge too. Making a cart out of scrounged parts is a wonderful object lesson in thrift, resourcefulness, and recycling.

So there you have it. Figure around $200 for all new materials to build a Whizbang Cart. Or figure less (maybe a lot less) if you do some scrounging. In either event, I want to stress here is that, new parts or scrounged parts, you will end up with a whole lot more cart for less money when you build your own Whizbang Garden Cart. That’s what I call a Whizbang value!


For more information about the Whizbang Garden cart and details about how you can get a copy of the book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart, click HERE

Thursday, May 24, 2007

All About The Whizbang Cart Tires

When I first gave some serious thought to building my own garden cart, I figured I would use some 26” bicycle tires for the cart tires. But when I looked at some actual bicycle tires, I couldn’t figure out how to make them work on the cart without complicating the design.

The problem with bicycle tires is that they are equipped with a short length of small-diameter threaded shaft, as shown in this next photograph...

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So I bought myself a couple of tires that were made specifically for a cart. They came with a ¾” axle hole. Around the axle hole on either side of the center hub is a ball bearing race. Here’s a picture of a cart tire...

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The cart tire is also built stronger than the bicycle tire. Significantly stronger. Here’s a picture of the cart tire on the cart...

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The tires attach to the 3/4" diameter axle shaft that runs under the cart. They just slide on and are held in place by a hitch pin clip through a hole in the axle. Very simple. Very effective.

You are not going to find cart tires with a ¾” axle hole at your local Home Depot. But you can get them by mail from a company called Northern Tool & Equipment. Over the years, I have purchased tires to make five garden carts from this company and have found the tires to be of decent quality.They have never given me a problem.

Unfortunately, the tires are not made in the U.S. They are made in China. I searched for U.S.-made cart tires and was unable to find them. There are U.S. companies who sell tires that are made in their Chinese factory. But there are no U.S. cart tire manufacturers. If I’m wrong about that, someone please tell me.

In any event, the specific cart tire you need is Model #145123. Click on that link and it should take you right to the page where you can read about the tires and order them online. As I write this, the tires are on sale for $24.99 each. That’s a very good price. I paid the regular price of $27.99 each the last few tires I’ve bought. Either way, I think you will find that Northern’s price for these tires (which include the tire, tube, and rim) is as good as it gets. Once again, if I’m wrong about that, someone please let me know so I can let others know.

Build it Easy. Work it Hard. Love it Forever. Welcome To The Whizbang Garden Cart Blog...

The Whizbang Garden Cart is a homemade outdoor utility cart modeled after Lyman P. Wood’s famous Garden Way Model #26. The distinctive #26 is considered by most people to be the best garden cart design ever made.

Although the Garden Way company went out of business years ago, several companies now make their own versions of the old Model #26. But a decent quality factory-made cart will cost you dearly. That’s the situation that led me to develop plans for a homemade version of Garden Way’s famous utility cart.

This blog introduces you to the cart I developed. The following links will take you to many photos and stories about the Whizbang Cart. My hope is that you will be inspired to build your own cart by following the easy-to-understand plan book I’ve put together. The $14.95 (postage paid) book, titled Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart, is a complete how-to manual with 45 pages and 75 illustrations.

Here is an index with links to all of the articles (and pictures) currently on this blog:

I Suggest You Start Here
Introducing The Whizbang Cart & How To Get A Copy Of The Planbook

You Can Read The Introduction To My Plan Book Here
Book Introduction

Here’s Some Articles About What Makes The Whizbang Cart So Special
It’s A Big Capacity Garden Cart
The Whizbang-Tough Difference

Build A Whizbang Garden Cart & You’re Eligible To Win Some Very Nice Prizes
2008 Whizbang Garden Cart Contest

The Whizbang Cart Is Incredibly Versatile
Twelve Turkeys in a Whizbang Garden Cart
Add Plywood For A Great Outdoor Work Surface
Oh, What A Dandy Picnic Table Mover!

The Whizbang Cart Will Last A Very Long Time If You Take Care Of It
Here’s How To Properly Maintain Your Cart (see my dependable old prototype Whizbang after its yearly spiffin’-up)

Here’s Some Cart Building How-To Information
All About The Cart Tires
Cutting The Plywood Parts
Drilling & Countersinking Screw Holes
Here’s An Old Carpenter’s Trick You Can Use
Putting On The Metal Edges

Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take To Build A Whizbang Garden Cart?
How Much Does It Cost To Build A Whizbang Cart?
What Are The Cart’s Dimensions?

If you have questions about the Whizbang Garden Cart, feel free to contact me by e-mail:

Thanks for stopping by,

Herrick Kimball

Whizbang Picnic Table Mover

Years ago, when my wife Marlene and I were just married and I was starting out in the building trades, we lived with Marlene’s parents, Jay and Evelyn Myers. It was not a bad thing living with my inlaws. Jay and Evelyn were good people and staying with them for a few years allowed us to save enough money to buy some land. Then Marlene and I built our home (I tell about this in my book Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian).

Marlene’s parents lived on a busy road. I decided to take advantage of the traffic and make some extra money by making and selling picnic tables. I made the tables in Jay’s barn out behind the house. Then I put one out by the road with a sign and the price. They sold very well. When we eventually moved into our own home, I stopped selling the tables, and Jay took over the business. He was a retired diary farmer looking for something to do. Making the tables was just perfect for him.

Well, Jay passed away ten years ago, but Marlene and I still have one of the 8-foot-long picnic tables he made. It’s showing it’s age but is still together and functional . It’s also heavy and hard to move, which brings me to the Whizbang Picnic Table Mover.

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That’s my 12-year-old son, James, with the very heavy and awkward picnic table on our Whizbang Garden Cart. I put it on the cart myself by simply tipping one side up, positioning the cart up to the tipped table, and flopping it over onto the cart. It’s a simple thing to do once you’ve done it. The extended corner blocks (which I call “horns”) on the dump-end of the cart secure the table so it doesn’t slide off. Wheeling it around is a whole lot easier than trying to carry it. Here’s another picture….

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This story illustrates the incredible versatility of the Whizbang. To learn more about the Whizbang Garden Cart and find out how you can get a copy of the book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart, click on this link.

Here's How to Properly Maintain Your Whizbang Garden Cart

A homemade Whizbang Garden Cart weighs a tad less than the popular factory-made versions, but it is more sturdy and durable. And, if made according to the plan I provide in my instruction manual, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart, the Whizbang will stand up to the elements of sun, rain, and snow remarkably well. Even still, some routine maintenance is needed if you want the Whizbang cart you make to last a lifetime. That is, after all, the case with any outdoor implement.

Bearing that in mind, the bearings on the cart tires should get a periodic spritz of aerosol silicone. You don’t have to take anything apart to get to the bearings, as you would do on an automobile. All you have to do is spray onto the hub around the axle and give the tire a spin to work the dry lubricant into the bearing raceway. To get to the bearings on the side of the tire towards the cart, you’ll have to remove the tire. But that’s easy. Just pull the hitch pin clip that holds the tire on to the axle shaft and the tire slides right off. Nothing could be easier.

The only other item of regular maintenance is to periodically paint on a fresh coat of protective stain. If you use your cart a lot, and leave it out in the elements all year long, as I have done with mine, it will get dowdy looking and develop some surface cracks in the plywood. Re-staining will make it look like new and help to seal the cracks.

My original Whizbang Garden Cart is now going into its fourth season of hard use here on my homestead. I recently re-stained it and took a couple of pictures. Here’s the first...

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In the above picture I have removed the cart’s tires and the metal corner guard on the dump-front end. I also removed the metal J-Bead, which was never properly secured (as I show in this blog essay). Then I used an orbital sander with a sheet of 80-grit paper to quickly sand over the flat surfaces of the cart. I didn’t sand it down to bare wood. I just sanded to level and clean the surface. It’s a simple thing to do.

Finally, I balanced the cart on a plastic pail in the yard and brushed on the stain. That gallon can you see in the picture is the same can of stain that I used when I first made the cart. This fourth coat just about emptied the can. In my plan book, I recommend that you purchase a gallon of good-quality stain and save it for future re-stainings. The lid on my can of stain got ruined last year so I wrapped the whole can in plastic wrap and it kept just fine. Here’s the restained cart...

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Now that’s a beautiful specimen of a Whizbang Garden Cart, if I don’t say so myself. You’ll notice that I have properly affixed a new length of metal J-bead over the plywood edges. The cart is going into its fourth season of use and abuse and it not only looks like new, it still works like new. By the way, even though it has been out in the rain and snow, and has been used to haul soggy wet materials for the past years, and is a little beat up (if you could look more closely, you would see come minor dents and chips), the cart shown absolutley no sign of wood decay. That’s a Whizbang cart for you!! Here’s another view…..

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To find out more about the Whizbang Garden Cart and learn how to get a copy of my plan book, check out this link.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Puttin’ On The Metal Edges

In my book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart, I provide easy-to-follow instructions for making an outdoor utility cart that will serve you faithfully for many, many years. With that objective in mind, I have designed the cart with some specific features. One such design feature is a protective metal strip that fits over the exposed edges of the plywood sides.

The edge I recommend you use is galvanized metal drywall J-Bead which is commonly available in most any lumberyard and is very inexpensive. If you are familiar with J-bead you may be thinking to yourself:” That stuff is kind of lightweight, isn’t it?”

Yes it is. But when you have glued and screwed it over the edge of ½” plywood (which it happens to fit over perfectly) the metal protects the wood from moisture penetration and provides surprising durability to the edge. So, by itself, the J-Bead is flimsy, but once secured to the plywood, it is not.

As I said, the J-Bead is glued and screwed over the plywood edges. This is done after you have cut the plywood pieces to size, then marked and drilled holes for every screw, as is clearly explained in my book. The glue I strongly recommend is polyurethane glue. I strongly recommend it because it is waterproof glue. A common brand of polyurethane glue is Gorilla Glue. You’ll find Gorilla Glue in any Home Depot or Lowes home center.

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The above picture shows a piece of metal J-Bead, attachment screws, and Gorilla Glue.

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This picture shows the Gorilla Glue being applied to the J-Bead prior to putting it on the plywood edge. Just squeeze a bead of the maple-syrup-consistency adhesive along the bottom of the channel.

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In the above photo my son James is driving screws into the J-Bead. The J-Bead has ¼” diameter holes punched 1” apart along the one edge. That edge is positioned on the inside of the cart. The J-Bead is then pushed down tight to the plywood. On the cart sides, one screw with a washer under its head is driven in every other hole (2” apart). On the dump-end panel, a screw and washer is driven into every hole (1” apart). James is putting screws into the dump end panel in this picture.

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The picture above shows the placement of the screws in the holes. Each screw is driven just below the center of the hole. This placement assures that the screw holds the J-Bead down just right. If you drove the screws too low, they would deform the metal. If you drove them too high, they would wedge the metal edge away from the plywood. So, just below the center is where they go and it isn’t a hard thing to do. My son is twelve and he did this task just fine.

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One of the distinctive attributes of Gorilla Glue is that it swells when it is curing. It will swell out from under the edges of the J-Bead. Then it dries to a hard, foam-like consistency which you will have to clean off. In the picture above I have stacked the two cart sides and the dump-end panel on paint cans to cure. You’ll see why in the next picture

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As you can see in this picture, the glue does, indeed, swell out from under the J-Bead. If the cart sides were laid aside in a vertical position (instead of horizontal on the paint cans) the glue ooze would run down the plywood faces and cleaning it off would be harder. So that’s why you need to stack the sides on the cans.

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A sharp chisel makes short work of cleaning the dried glue ooze-out off as James is showing in the above picture.

As you can see, putting the protective metal edge on the cart sides is a simple process. It so happens that building the whole Whizbang Garden Cart is a simple process, especially when you take it one logical step at a time. My plan book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart provides you with a simple, logical, one-step-at-a-time instructions.

And once you've made your own Whizbang Garden Cart, you can enter it in the Whizbang Garden Cart Contest, as explained here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Drilling & Countersinking Screw Holes

Chapter Three of my Whizbang Garden Cart plan book is titled Preparing The Wood Parts. The chapter begins as follows:

"I recommend that you cut all the wood components of your cart to size, drill a hole for every screw, and mark out where key parts will be attached before you begin to assemble the cart. If you do this, as I tell you in this chapter, the whole process of building your cart is going to be easier and so much more enjoyable."

Then I tell you how to cut the plywood pieces you will need (as shown here). I also provide diagrams showing you precisely where all assembly screws will go. There are 11 screws in the end panel, 31 screws in each side panel, 64 screws in the undercarriage framework, and 22 screws up through the bottom of the cart.

Every screw requires a 1/8” pilot hole. I also recommend that you use a countersink bit to countersink every hole. You don’t want any screw heads sticking up above the surface of the wood.

All this drilling of holes and countersinking is perfect for a young child to do. For example, here is my 12-year-old son, James drilling pilot holes for the screws:

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That picture of my young son drilling holes so carefully and intently really blesses my heart. You’ll notice that he is using a Dremel-like tool to drill the holes. That tool happens to be his. He bought it with his own money last Christmas. He shopped around and found one he liked. It’s actually a Black & Decker version of the famous Dremel tool, and it was at the local lumberyard.

I helped him look it over and make sure he understood what he was buying and the cost. Then I showed him how to maybe get a little better deal on it. We took the box to the counter and I simply said to the man: “We’re interested in buying this tool. Do you think you could do a little better on the price?”

It never hurts to ask. Of course, that sort of thing isn’t done at WalMart or Home Depot. But at a small town lumberyard, they will usually be receptive to such a request. That has been my experience when purchasing tools over the years and it was our experience that day.

The tool came with all sorts of handy little insert bits. There were sander tips and wood grinding tips, and metal cut-off blades. It's a perfect first power tool for the industrious child (and it's pretty handy for the industrious adult too). The device also happens to hold a 1/8” drill bit. So it's ideally suited for drilling all the pilot holes this project requires.

Then James used my drill with the appropriate bit (which will not fit in a Dremel tool)to countersink every hole, as shown here:

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Please note that James is wearing safety glasses in the above photo. He should be wearing the glasses in the first photo too. Sometimes we forget the glasses. That’s not good. You should not follow our example in this regard.

The point of this blog entry is that building your own garden cart requires drilling and countersinking a lot of holes. But more than that, I want to convey to you that making your own Whizbang Cart can be a great family project. A son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter can help you build the cart. There are plenty of things he or she can do. Drilling holes is one example. I'll be showing you more in the days ahead.

When a child can learn to use tools and truly contribute to building the cart, it is a very good thing. I do hope a lot of people will take this opportunity to make not only a great Whizbang Garden Cart, but a great childhood memory.


You can learn more about the Whizbang Garden Cart and find out how to buy the plan book HERE

Saturday, May 5, 2007

It's A Big Capacity Garden Cart

My Whizbang Garden Cart plans tell you how to make a cart that will hold a lot. The following picture shows what I mean. That's yours truly with my Whizbang Cart. It has eight straw bales in it. The cart will transport that many bales if you secure them with a ratcheting nylon strap. Use a strap with hooks on the ends and they will conveniently lock around the side of the cart at the bottom.

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The weight capacity of the cart is around 400 pounds. I don't think the straw bales weigh that much. If I had three more bales of straw, I could have stacked them on the handle-end of the cart. There was room, and the cart would have handled the weight. Here's another picture...

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You'll notice in the above photo that I'm now using a lot of effort to hold the cart(one finger does it). That's because the cart is perfectly balanced at that point. It does take some effort to roll eight bales stacked that high. But the point here is that the Whizbang garden cart will hold a lot. And it rolls easier than most any other hand cart with that kind of load.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Here’s An Old Carpenter’s Trick You Can Use

I worked in the building trades for more than 20 years. I know most of the tricks of the trade. In this blog entry I’m going to share with you a useful technique that woodworkers, carpenters, and drywallers commonly use in their work. There is no reason why you can’t master this little technique and use it too—-especially as you build your Whizbang Garden Cart.

When you build the cart according to the plan I provide in my book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart, you will need to mark several pencil lines parallel to the edges of the plywood sides. Pilot holes for assembly screws will be drilled along the lines (my plans tell you exactly where every single screw goes).

There are different tools for marking parallel lines but all you really need is a pencil, a tape measure, and your hands. This photo shows what I mean…

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The above picture shows how I draw an accurately straight line ¾” away from one edge of the plywood using nothing more than a pencil in my hand. I used the tape measure to first make a mark at ¾”. Then I hold the point of the pencil on the mark and grip it firmly with the tip of my middle finger tight against the edge of the plywood. With the pencil and fingers locked in this position, my hand becomes an effective tool. It’s a simple matter to slide my hand along the edge of the wood (with the middle finger tight to the wood) and mark an accurate line. The already-drawn line in the picture was made with the hand position shown).

Using this technique, I can mark parallel lines up to 3” away from an edge. For longer distances, the following picture shows a variation of this trick...

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In the above photo I have extended the tape measure to the distance I want to mark (3" away from the other line). My one hand holds the tape securely and the side of my index finger rests against the edge of the plywood. At the other end of the tape, I am holding the pencil tight to the hook end. With this arrangement, I can draw the tape and pencil along the edge and mark lines up to around 48” away. The marked lines with this method are not quite as accurate as the one-hand-with-the-pencil approach (especially when the distance gets over a foot or so). But the lines are reliable enough for many purposes, including the making of a Whizbang Garden Cart.

Beyond the garden cart project, these “handy” techniques work very well when marking out and cutting drywall. I rarely snap a chalk line or use a drywaller’s T-square when working with drywall. And a particularly neat variation of this trick is to substitute a utility knife for the pencil so you mark and score your drywall at the same time. You can get a lot more work done if you utilize techniques like this.

Of course, any of these tricks of the trade require a bit of practice to master. You can practice drawing parallel lines on a pad of paper or a scrap of wood.

2007 Whizbang Garden Cart Contest

Build A Whizbang Garden Cart And You’re Eligible to Win One of Eleven Gift Certificates to Seed Company Catalogs

Grand Prize: $100 gift certificate to Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Second Prize: $50 gift certificate to Fedco Seeds
Third Prize: $50 gift certificate to Seed Saver’s Exchange
Fourth Prize: $25 gift certificate to Seeds of Change
Fifth Prize: $25 gift certificate to Seeds of Change
Sixth Prize: $25 gift certificate to Heirloom Acres Seeds
Seventh Prize: $25 gift certificate to Heirloom Acres Seeds
Eighth Prize: $25 gift certificate to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Ninth Prize: $25 gift certificate to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Tenth Prize: $25 gift certificate to High Mowing Seeds
Eleventh Prize: $25 gift certificate to High Mowing Seeds

Here’s How to Enter The Contest
1.) Build your own Whizbang Garden Cart using the plans found in the book, Anyone Can Build a Whizbang Garden Cart

2.) Take a picture of your finished cart. The picture must show the cart in a natural setting (for example, a garden), and there must be at least one person in the picture.

3.) Do one of the following:

a) Send the picture of your cart, along with your name and address, by postal mail to: Whizbang Books, P.O. Box 1117, Moravia, NY 13118

b) Post the picture of your cart, along with a short explanation about it to your blog, web site, or another internet location with its own linkable internet web address. Then e-mail the location to: The link must be viewable until at least the end of 2007.

Contest Deadline
All entries for the 2007 contest must be received by December 1st of 2007.

Here’s How Winners Will Be Chosen
Everyone who enters the contest will have their name written on a slip of paper and put into a box. On December 31st of 2007, Prize winners will be picked at random as follows:

The Grand Prize and Second Prize winners will be picked from a box containing the names of people who posted their cart picture with an explanation about it to the internet.

Then, the remaining names in that box will be added to the box of names from people who sent their photo through the mail. From these two combined groups, the Third Place through Eleventh Place winners will be picked.

Announcing The Winners
Winners of the 2007 Whizbang Garden Cart Contest will be publicly announced on January first of 2008 at this blog and at The Deliberate Agrarian.

If you mail in your entry, you will receive notice of contest winners by mail in January of 2008. Winners will receive their prizes in January of 2008 (in plenty of time to order seeds, plants, or whatever you want for the 2008 planting season).

Other Important Details
--Those who enter this contest by posting an internet photo and commentary will be listed (with a link to their photo) at this blog.

--Any photos and comments received by mail may be used by Whizbang Books for marketing purposes.

--This cart contest, and the picking of all winners, will be conducted in a fair and honest manner. However, there will be no second or third party verification of the process. In other words, if you enter the contest, you must trust us to do it fairly.

--Whizbang Books reserves the right to substitute similar prizes of equal value for the prizes listed above.

--Only one entry per person or family is allowed.

--Entrants who do not win a prize in the 2007 Garden Cart contest may re-enter next year’s contest.

--Any questions about this contest and the rules should be directed to Whizbang Books. ( Whizbang Books reserves the right to modify these contest rules to further clarify them if needed.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Cutting The Plywood Parts

I designed the Whizbang Garden Cart so that all the plywood parts can be cut out of a single sheet of 1/2" plywood. Make five simple straight cuts and you’ll have the four pieces of plywood you need (bottom, two sides, and the dump-front panel). Part of the beauty of the Whizbang plan is that no fancy woodwork joinery is required—straight plywood cuts do it.

The plywood cuts should be perfectly straight and accurate. You can achieve straight and accurate cuts without any special or expensive woodworking equipment. A basic electric circular saw will do the job just fine. But you do not want to freehand the cuts. Freehand cuts, no matter how skillfully executed, are never perfectly straight. That being the case, I recommend in my planbook that you clamp a straight edge to the plywood and guide your saw’s baseplate along the edge. It takes a few moments to set the cut up but once that’s done, the rest is easy. The following photo shows what I mean…

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I bought that old Rockwell circular saw more than 25 years ago when I started working in the building trades. Me and it have cut a lot of wood since then- probably many miles of it. The straight edge is nothing more than a four-foot level. Four feet is the longest cut you’ll need to make. An Irwin Quickgrip clamp holds each end of the straight edge to the plywood. Any kind of clamp will do the job but you can’t beat those Quickgrips for convenience and ease of use.

You’ll notice that the plywood is laid over a couple of 2x4s. They provide support so the sheet doesn’t flex and bind as I’m cutting it. My saw’s depth of cut is set to go through the plywood about 1/8." So the 2x4s end up with some little saw kerf tracks in them but that’s no problem because they are poor quality lengths of wood and are serving a useful purpose.

I’ve used this plywood-cutting setup many, many times over the years of my building trades career. And I’ve even used it when making yeoman furniture. Here’s another picture.

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The above picture shows my 12-year-old son, James, making the fifth and final plywood cut. He watched me make the first ones and I let him do the last. It was his first time using an electric circular saw. He did a fine job. Once the straight edge and clamps are properly set up, even a 12-year-old novice can make a perfect cut. Fact is, it’s hard not to make a perfect cut with this technique. Here’s one more picture…

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As you can see, James is very pleased with himself. Making a Whizbang Garden Cart is an excellent father-son (or father-daughter) woodworking project. There is a real sense of satisfaction that comes when you make a useful tool like this cart.

To learn more about the Whizbang Garden Cart planbook, read the book’s introduction, see some pictures of the cart in action, and find out how you can get a copy of the book, Click Here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Whizbang is One Tough Cart

(Here's The Pictures To Prove It)

A homemade Whizbang Garden Cart is not only easy to build and less expensive than a factory-made utility cart, it’s also a lot tougher. This can be seen in the following pictures…

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The cart pictured above is one of those expensive factory-made carts. It has a few years of hard use on it. The bottom of the cart is made of ½” plywood. Near as I can determine, the plywood is 3-ply, which is not very strong. If you look closely, you will see some splitting of the bottom that happened when I dropped a fairly heavy rock in it. There is also some barely visible but even worse bottom damage that happened just this year. My son was loading some chunks of firewood in and a stub of branch poked through the bottom.

You can also see in the picture that the ½” plywood bottom is supported by the wheel axle and a small cross piece of wimpy metal tubing by the legs. Then there is a length of bent sheet metal along the bottom of each side.

All of this adds up a design that is adequate but not particularly strong or durable. Now let’s look at the bottom of a homemade Whizbang Garden Cart.

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As you can plainly see in the above Whizbang Cart, the bottom is beefed up with an undercarriage framework of 1x4 pine boards. The undercarriage is securely glue-laminated to the plywood so it is like one solid piece. And there are two substantial angle braces by the legs.

What you can’t see in the photo is that the ½” plywood bottom on this Whizbang is 5-ply fir plywood. The difference in strength and durability between 5-ply fir and 3-ply pine is considerable. I don’t know the specific technicalities but I’d bet the 5-ply fir plywood easily has twice the impact resistance and strength of that cheap 3-ply stuff.

Now here’s the really neat part. You can build your own Whizbang Garden Cart and use top quality, super-strong plywood, and you will actually spend less than it costs to buy a factory-made cart. Getting more quality for less money is the definition of a better value.

Here’s another picture…
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Notice in the above picture that the ½” thick bottom on the factory-made cart is bent. I didn’t bend it on purpose. It bent in normal homestead use. Now look at the same view of the Whizbang cart…

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Again, as you can see, the Whizbang bottom is built to handle the demands of hard use. This is one tough cart. Yes, I admit, the Whizbang Cart shown heres is brand new and has no use on it. But the three-year-old prototype Whizbang that I've been using on my homestead (using right along with the factory-made unit shown here) is just as solid as this new unit. I didn't picture it here because it happened to be in use. But you'll see pictures of it here in the days ahead.

Now let me tell you the really amazing thing about the Whizbang. With all that extra wood support, you would think it has to be a lot heavier than the factory-made unit. I mean, it just looks a whole lot heavier, doesn’t it?. Well it’s not.

The Whizbang cart above weighs four pounds less than the factory-made cart. How can this be true? I’ll tell you how….

The Factory-made cart has a heavy steel frame on the front. The frame serves to hold the cart's side panels square and it accommodates a removable front panel. The Whizbang does not have a removable front panel and it does not have the heavy-duty steel frame. You don't need either of those things. The Whizbang design trades the removable front panel for a beefier and far more durable construction and it still comes out weighing less.

To learn more about the Whizbang Garden Cart plan book , see pictures of the cart in action, read the book’s Introduction, and purchase a pre-publication copy of the book at a special reduced price, CLICK HERE