A Simple Shooting Cart - Part II

By Tom Kelley

Last month, we looked at starting a simple shooting cart for our range use, and built the first subassembly, the vertical rack. This month, we will finish the cart and get out on the range.

Adding the Bottom

After building the rack portion of our cart, we can add on the bottom section. The back of the lower storage compartment is actually also the back of the bottom, so we will add on the three 1x6x16" pieces (D1, D2, D3) that frame this area (If you are shortening the depth of the shooting cart to fit your trunk, then you want to shorten the two side pieces accordingly at this time). Don't place any screws within two inches of the back lower corners, because that's where we will put the axle later. Use wood screws and wood glue to attach the three pieces. Make sure you put the front on the inside of the two side pieces. After those pieces have had a chance to set up, you need to take a piece of scrap left over from the 1x10 or 1x6's and mark it to fit in the space between the bottom box sides and front. Cut it a little oversized and sand the edges as needed to acquire a correct fit in the space. Again, glue and screw this piece to the rest of the unit. This completes most of the shooting cart assembly.

In this cart design, the guns actually sit in front of the storage areas, which are accessible from the rear of the cart when the guns are in the rack. We need to fabricate a spacer/holder for the guns when in the cart. To make mine (Photo B), I used a scrap of 1x4 and 5 3-inch lengths of wood dowel, but any piece of wood left over will suffice. I drilled 1/2" holes in the 1x4, then glued in the dowel pieces. Then, I anchored that assembly to the front of the upper storage box with some glue and deck screws (1 1/4"). Since I plan to tack on some kind of protective covering at a later date to protect the guns in transit (probably 1/2" rubber hose), I left generous spacing for the guns. I use a bungi cord across the front of the pegs to secure the load, and haven't had a spill yet.

My cart has one option, a lid for the top compartment. You should have enough of the 1x10 left over to make one. I chiseled out the lip so the lid would sit tight on the top and be more waterproof in case of a sudden shower. If you use an oversized board, you will have a lip that hangs over the front of the box to help you raise and lower the lid. You only need 1/2" overhang for the lid to be functional. I used the 12-inch piano hinge to secure the lid.

Finishing the Cart

The axle goes through the bottom of the cart at the back, where the cart is 1 1/2" thick and glued and screwed together. Drill a 1/2" hole that is centered 1 1/4" from the bottom and back of the cart. This is important to keep the axle from binding on the bottom and back boards. Take your time here and drill slowly, stopping to check your alignment carefully. If you do a good job on each side, the axle (1/2" All-Thread 24" long) should slide right across the back of the rack and out the other side.

Each side gets a washer, then the wheel and another washer before the hex nut goes on. Don't tighten the hex nut too much, you want the wheels to turn freely. Depending on the thickness of your wheels, you may want to trim the length of the axle to suit your taste.

In order to make the cart fairly level, you will need to attach something to the front of the cart to compensate for the distance the wheels lift the bottom off the ground. I like to use scaps of 3/4" plywood for this piece if you use only one in the front, but if you use one on each side you can get pretty creative with scrap lumber. Make sure about 2 inches of the support are attached firmly to the cart. Here again, depending on your budget, you could buy metal brackets, etc., for front supports if you desired to. Let creativity be your muse.

A handle will complete the project, and it's only purpose is to make the cart easy to move. I have used pieces of old lawn mower handles, gas pipe and wood handles on carts, all with good success. Our plan calls for two 2-foot pieces of 1/2 by 4 inch red oak, and a piece of closet pole. The closet pole should be cut square on each end at 16 inches. Find the center of the two pieces of red oak, and about 2 inches from the end drill a 1/2 inch hole. Next, line up the end of the pole so it is centered in that hole in the red oak, and drill a hole 1 inch deep. Cut a piece of 1/2 inch wood dowel about 1 1/2" long, and put a smidge of glue down in the hole you drilled in the closet pole end. Don't be sloppy with the glue; no glue should be on the end of the pole. Put the dowel in the hole. Repeat on the other end.

You should now have a closet pole piece with two nubs sticking out the ends. Place those nubs in the holes you drilled near the ends of the red oak pieces, and you have a handle sub assembly. Using basic trial and error and a couple of deck screws, move the handle around on the cart until you find a position that will be comfortable to maneuver the cart. Try it with guns it in to make sure; now is the time for trial and error. After you find a favorable position for the handle, you may want to clean up the front ends of the handle to fit smoothly with the lines of the cart. Here again, it is a matter of personal preference and taste. I use the slight overhang on the front of the handles on my cart to attach stuff like scopes and cleaning rods with extra bungi cords.

You now have a serviceable skirmishing cart that will serve you well in the future. You can finish or stain the cart as you like, I imagine we'll see a few painted and marked like limbers in a very short time. I hope this little summer project was useful for you, and your cart helps you shoot happier if not better. Until the next time, promote responsible gun ownership, shoot safe, and have fun.

2002 by Tom Kelley

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