Building a Garden Wheelbarrow Using Pallet Wood

Topics Covered
1. Got the Pallets Now What?
2. The Wheelbarrow Handles
3. Holes for Wheel Shaft
4. Wheelbarrow Container Bottom
5. Wheelbarrow Container Back Wall
6. Wheelbarrow Container Front Wall
7. Wheelbarrow Container Side Walls
8. Wheel Construction
9. Wheel & Wheel Shaft Assembly
10. Back Legs
11. Now Go Make Your Own

The wheelbarrow design shown here is based on a YouTube video by Steve Ramsey. The YouTube video (by Steve Ramsey) link is included in “Related Links” at the end of this post.

The wood for this project is from wood pallets. Translation, it is free. I found my wood pallets next to a dumpster at a nearby shopping strip.

Before we get started, here is a shot of the finished product.

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Got the Pallets Now What?
Granted the pallets are free, but some sweat equity is required. I used an assortment of hand tools and power tools to take the pallets apart.

Prying the individual boards off without splitting the wood was a challenge, but doable. I used a 12” nail-pulling pry bar and a claw hammer to remove the nails. In addition, I was not terribly concerned about scarring the boards since this is going to be a rustic type project.

The Wheelbarrow Handles
Two pallet stringers are used for the wheelbarrow handles. A stringer board is shown labeled in the following photo.

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The two stringer ends were cut as indicated in the above photo. The ends of the stringers shown cut will be the handle ends, and the wheelbarrow wheel will be at the other end of the two stringers.

I used my backsaw, flush-cut saw, and random orbital sander: to shape and round the wheelbarrow handles plus the wheel end of the two stringers. I used a 1” radius to round the corners at both the handle and wheel end of each stringer.

Holes for Wheel Shaft

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A 1-3/8” dia. hole is drilled in the two stringers, as shown in the above photo. A 1-1/4” dia. wooden dowel (shaft for wheelbarrow wheel) will be routed thru the two 1-3/8” dia. holes. As noted by Steve Ramsey in his YouTube video (see “Related Links” at the end of this post), the wheelbarrow stringer holes for the wheel shaft are oversized. The holes are oversized in order to allow the stringers to be angled from the wheel end to the handle end of the wheelbarrow. A photo of the two stringers angled is shown in the photo below.

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Wheelbarrow Container Bottom
In the photo below, the wheelbarrow “container bottom” boards are nailed to the two-stringer boards. Shown below are the various dimensions I ended up with. There is nothing sacred or critical regarding the dimensions below, and in all likelihood your dimensions will differ from what is shown here.

I spaced the “container bottom” boards apart approximately 1/8”; I used the steel ruler shown in the photo above to accomplish the 1/8” spacing.

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I used 6d (2” length) exterior galvanized common nails to nail the “container bottom” boards (shown above) to the two-stringer boards. To eliminate the nails from splitting the boards (which are oak & prone to splitting), I ground the nail tips off. It works.

Note — I ground the nail tips off all nails used on this project, to prevent the boards from splitting.

I used a circular saw to cut the “container bottom” boards coplanar (approximately) with the sides of the stringer boards. In addition, I used a fence (see photo below) to guide the circular saw.

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Wheelbarrow Container Back Wall
Shown in the following photo is how I aligned the “container back wall” board with the “container bottom” boards. The bottom of the “container back wall” board is coplanar with the bottom side of the “container bottom” boards, as shown in the following photo.

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Shown below is a shot of the wheelbarrow “container back wall” prior to being lifted up and nailed to the “container bottom.” Regarding the “container back wall” board, I cut each end at a 15* angle.

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I fastened the “container back wall” to the “container bottom” with three #6d common nails (exterior grade rated). I drilled 3/32” diameter holes for the three #6d nails; I wanted to ensure that the nails stayed on course, and did not blow out thru the top or bottom of the “container bottom.”

Dimensions for one of the two “wood blocks” shown in the above photo are shown in the following photo. The dimensional values are the same for both “wood blocks.”

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Wheelbarrow Container Front Wall
Construction of the wheelbarrow “container front wall” is the same as the “container back wall” construction. The “container back wall” consists of one horizontal board, and two “wood blocks.” However, the “container front wall” construction consists of two horizontal boards, two vertical boards, and two “wood blocks.”

In the photo below, the “container front wall” is shown partially constructed.

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General notes regarding the above photo:
### — The two “vertical boards” shown are squared up with the “horizontal board” shown. Next, I tacked the “vertical boards” to the “horizontal board” shown with 1” brad nails. I next used four #3d common nails to complete the fastening of each “vertical board” to the “horizontal board” shown. The photo above was taken prior to driving the #3d nails.

### — Each end of the “horizontal board” shown was cut at a 15* angle and I used my chop saw for making the angled cuts.

### — I positioned each “vertical board’s” outside edge two-inches in from each end of the “horizontal board” shown.

### — Dimensions for each “vertical board” are 7-11/16” x 3-7/8” x 11/16”, but surely your height dimension (7-11/16”) will vary based on your pallet lumber dimensions.

Use of a ruler in the following photo is used to extend the 15* angle from the first “horizontal board” onto the second “horizontal board.” I used my chop saw to make the 15* angled cuts.

I spaced the two “horizontal boards” apart by approximately 1/8”, and then nailed the second “horizontal board” to the two “vertical boards” with #3d galvanized common nails. Four #3d nails were used on each “vertical board,” for fastening of the second “horizontal board.”

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Wheelbarrow Container Side Walls
Each wheelbarrow “container side wall” consists of two “horizontal boards” and two “vertical boards.” The photo below shows the “container side walls” partially assembled with just the “horizontal boards”; the “horizontal boards” are shown temporally tacked in place with 1” brad nails.

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Notes regarding the above photo:
Note 1 — I used two 16d common nails to provide a gap between the “horizontal boards.”

Note 2 — Make the tops of the two boards shown coplanar with one another. Rip the “container side wall” board as required.

Note 3 — I marked this line using a combination square. Next, I removed the two marked boards and used my chop saw to cut along the marked lines. This note applies to both “container side walls.”

After cutting the “horizontal boards” to length, the next step is to fasten the “vertical boards.” The photo below and notes that follow provide additional details.

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Notes regarding the above photo:
Note 1
— A 16d common nail was used to provide a gap between the “horizontal boards.”

Note 2 — I used a combination square to square the “vertical boards” to the “horizontal boards.” Brad nails (1” long) held the horizontal and vertical boards square to one another. I used eight brad nails for each “vertical board.”

Note 3 — I hammered a total of 8d common nails in to each “vertical board.” Half of the nails were driven in to each “vertical board” when this photo was taken.

Note 4 — I used the clamp shown to prevent the boards from shifting position while hammering.

Note 5 — This corner is rounded to a 1” radius, and the photo below details dimensioning for the 1” radius cut.

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The “container side walls” are fasten to the front and back walls of the wheelbarrow container with #9 x 2-1/2” star drive type deck screws: The locations of the screws are shown in the photo below. In addition, the following photo shows all eight nails (3d common) in both “vertical boards.”

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Wheel Construction
To construct the wheel, I first cut three 12” lengths of wood from a pallet stringer. My pallet stringers were 1-3/16” thick. And, I used 10” for the wheel diameter.

The photo below shows the wood for the wheel clamped together. I used 12d common nails as spacers to separate the three wood members shown clamped together. Why space the three wood members apart from one another? I want a medieval look for my wheel. You will see what I am talking about shortly. Bear with me.

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Notes regarding the above photo:
Note 1
— This 12d common nail is typical of the four 12d nails used to separate the three wood members shown from one another.

Note 2 — I should have drawn the 10” diameter circle before drilling the 1-1/4” diameter hole for the 1-1/4” diameter wheel shaft. But, I drilled the 1-1/4” hole first. Therefore, I placed a scrap piece of 1-1/4” diameter wood dowel into the drilled hole, found the center of the wood dowel (using the combination square ruler & center square shown), and then used the compass shown to draw a 10” diameter circle.

Next, I used my table saw, chop saw, backsaw, and disc sander (40 grit) to cut and shape the wheel. And, the photo below shows the cutout wheel, plus additional wood members which will be installed. The following photo applies to the other side of the wheel as well.

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Notes regarding the above photo:
Note 1
— Each of the two wood members shown here are 12” (approx.) x 1-1/2” x 1/2″. This wood member is cut and positioned as shown in the following photo.

Note 2 — Dimensions for this wood member are 2-1/2” x 2-1/2” x 5/8”, and a 1-1/4” diameter hole is drilled thru the center of this wood member. Fastening of this wood member to the wheel shaft will be covered shortly.

Note 3 — This is a 1/4″ strip of plywood used to ensure that the wood members referenced by Notes 1 & 2 above do not interfere with one another.

Note 4 — I used this small square to square the wood members (referenced by Note 1 above) with the three wheel segments as shown.

Note 5 — The bevel gauge proved handy for keeping the three wheel segments aligned during adjustment sessions for the wood members referenced by Note 1 above.

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Notes regarding the above photo:
Note 1
— This dimension is 3/8”, although it varies somewhat from board to board.

Note 2 — I tacked this board to the wheel with eight 1-1/2” brad nails. This note is typical for all four boards (two on this side & the two on the other side of the wheel). Three screws per board are shown installed in the next photo.

This next photo shows the wheel being centered on the wheel shaft.

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Note regarding the above photo:
Note 1
— Install #8 x2” star drive type deck screw after drilling a 1/8” diameter pilot hole, an 11/64” diameter clearance hole thru trapezoidal shape board, and then countersink trapezoidal shaped board. This comment is typical for all four boards (two on each side of wheel).

Wheel & Wheel Shaft Assembly

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Notes regarding the above photo:
Note 1
— The three boards pointed at are temporarily tacked together for the purpose of holding the wheel at the center while installing the wheel shaft and associated wood members.

Note 2 — The shim shown is approximately 3/32” thick, and it serves the purpose of providing clearance between the wheel and the square wood member shown in front of the wheel. After the square wood member is fastened to the wheel shaft, the clamp and shim will be removed. This procedure will apply to the square wood member located on the other side of the wheel as well.

Note 3 — The square wood member is fastened to the wheel shaft with a #8 x 2” star drive type deck screw. The leader for this note points to where the #8 screw will be installed after drilling a 1/8” diameter pilot hole, an 11/64” diameter clearance hole thru the square wood member, and then countersinking the square wood member.

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Notes regarding the above photo:
Note 1
— The leader for this note points to where the #9 x 3” screw will be installed after drilling a 1/8” diameter pilot hole, an 11/64” diameter clearance hole thru the stringer portion above the wheel shaft, and then countersinking the square wood member. The wheel shaft and square wood members (2) are stationary, only the wheel turns.

Note 2 — I used my disc sander to round over this portion of the wheel shaft as shown.

Back Legs
I used left over pallet stringers to rough-cut two legs (15-11/16” x 3” x 1-3/16” – each leg).

Take the rough-cut legs and clamp them to the wheelbarrow as shown in the following photo. This is an intermediate step since you will need to find out what angle you need to cut the leg bottoms in order for the ground end of the legs to sit flat on the ground before cutting your legs to their final lengths.

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The following photo shows a bevel gauge being used to determine the required angle for the leg bottoms.

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The bevel gauge angle obtained in the photo above is shown being transferred to my chop saw in the photo below.

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After making the angled cuts on the two leg bottoms, I made the cuts for the top end of both legs. The cut for the top end of the two legs is a right-angle cut, as shown in the following photo. Also regarding leg length, I used 13-9/16” and measured as shown in the photo below.

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In the following photo, the legs are shown clamped in place and ready for fastening.

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The legs are only eight screws away from being finished. I fastened each leg to its adjacent stringer with four #9 x 2-1/2” star drive type deck screws. The screws will be installed after drilling 1/8” diameter pilot holes, 11/64” diameter clearance holes thru each leg, and then countersinking the drilled holes in each leg. The following photo shows the screws installed in one of the two legs.

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Now Go Make Your Own
It has been a long read, but now you are all set to go make your own plant wheelbarrow. The pallets are generally free for the taking. Just some sweat equity required.

I built this plant wheelbarrow for my wife, Cathy. Cathy likes it, and her dad has asked for one. Current plan is to build another plant wheelbarrow and give it to Cathy’s dad for Christmas.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you would share it by email with a friend, or on Google+, and/or Facebook. While I am being needy, would you give me a “Like” on my Facebook page (Woodworking with AJO)? My Facebook page “Like” button is on the right side of this page, or you can click on the link shown below for my Facebook page. Thanks a bunch.

Woodworking with AJO | Facebook

Until next time, Take care
AL

Related Links:
Steve Ramsey —Make a rustic wheelbarrow garden planter — YouTube
How To Build A Cute Wheelbarrow Planter
1001 Pallets, Recycled wood pallet ideas, DIY pallet Projects ! – Part 8

 

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