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Under-The-Stairs Rolling Storage Cart

 
We have this triangular space under our basement stairs. We have used it as a storage area for years. The problem is that it is quite deep -- the stairs are 36" wide -- so it is awkward to get things in and out. It is also an odd shape and it looks messy.
I decided to build in some storage to fit the space. The main thing I wanted was a large triangular door on the front, to close off the space. However, I also wanted to keep it simple. I really did not want to build in a large cabinet with hinges or slides or anything like that.

Free would also be nice.

I came up with the idea of a rolling cabinet. It would be just a large open box, with a triangular front. I did NOT make detailed plans, just a 3D sketch to guide me. All other dimensions I would work out as I built it.

I was reminded of this project by Matthias Wandel: Under bed storage drawers

The advantage of rollerblade wheels is that they don't pivot, which is exactly what I want here -- I just want the cart to roll straight in and out. My kids have outgrown this pair, so I could disassemble them and had eight free wheels to use.

The first thing I did with the wheels is build a small jig to test out mounting them in wood. This helped me figure out how large a board is needed for mounting these wheels (2") and how much gap is needed for the wheels, and just to practise mounting them with some 1/4" bolts.
I mentioned that free was a goal. The wheels were free, and I also had a couple sizable pieces of plywood in my stash. This old piece of salvaged 3/4" plywood provided enough wood for the base of my cart, and one of the short sides. Another piece of leftover 1/2" plywood gave me enough for the other three sides.
After cutting out the plywood base, I ripped some pine shelving into 2" strips. These would provide support for the bottom as well as a place for mounting the wheels.
I laid out four of the narrow strips applied glue and nailed the bottom into place. It might look like I am missing two boards along the outside. However, the sides of the cart will extend down below the bottom and fill in those spaces. This will be shown later.
A large piece was cut out for the two ends. These are going to be diagonally shaped. I'm laying that out here so that I can cut this one piece into two identical ends
This is too large for the bandsaw, so I used a jigsaw. It's hard to get a straight line with a jigsaw, so I clamped a board there which I am using for guiding the base of the jigsaw. Also, I'm not building fine furniture here!
The sides were then all glued and nailed into place. In a few spots I also added some screws, as the plywood was a bit warped and needed some "persuasion" to flatten into position as I wanted.

The next two photos show the finished storage box. It needs to be low on the one side, since the stairs come down to the floor. It needs to be somewhat taller on the other side, to give good support to the large triangular-shaped door that I will be adding.

The second photo shows how I have three sets of wood supports under the base, where I can install wheels.

For the door, I used a large piece of 1/8" underlay plywood. It very nicely has one smooth side. I took these measurements off of the opening under my stair, making sure that it was 1" shorter than the opening on all three sides. In that way I will have a 1/2" gap on each side, which should be enough.

As with the other diagonal, I drew it out and then cut it with the jigsaw.

Of course, the front is too flimsy on it's own, so I knew I needed to add some boards to reinforce it. I had some boards salvaged from the trash that I resawed and planed down to 1/2" in thickness, trimmed to 3-1/2" of width, and glued along the three edges of the front panel.
Here is what it looked like with all three edge boards glued into place.
Everything was sanded and then I primed and painted the front. I did not bother with any sort of finish on the inside box.
I then drilled and installed the rollerblade wheels in the base. I used 1/4" bolts, loosely bolted into place. This unit will not be moved that much, so we really don't need to get that fancy with securing these wheels.

I installed all eight wheels, not because I thought I'd need them, but just because I had them.

Here you can see all the wheels in place, and the front is ready to be attached.
I pre-drilled and then used screws to attach the front from behind. I was careful to only place screws where they would drill into the thick edge boards of the front panel.
All done!

Quick and easy project. I love how it totally covers that gap under the stairs, and provides lots of easy-to-access storage.

I built this for less than five dollars, as all I had to buy was a few bolts. If you had to buy everything, I would still think it would be built for well under $50: a few bolts, a handle, some roller blades from the thrift store, and some inexpensive plywood and paint.

 

Thanks for reading!