Start with the SIDES
The cart construction starts with the sides. They have a series of notches and dadoes cut in them to accept the shelves. Because of the small size of this cart, it’s a good chance to use some material that you might not normally use. In this case, we used walnut.
STOCK PREP. After selecting your stock, spend time squaring it up. Joint one face and edge, then rip it to width. Next, plane the stock to thickness and cut it to final length. I know someone will shame me for it, but I make most of my finished cross cuts at the miter saw. In my experience, it will give you just as clean of cut as a table saw if you use a sharp blade.
DADO & NOTCH. Now, cut the joinery in the sides. As I mentioned before, these are dadoes and notches. You can see these in the main drawing and detail ‘a.’
To cut these, set up a dado blade in your table saw. Set the rip fence as a stop and guide your workpiece with the miter gauge to make the dadoes (Figure 1).
After making one dado, flip the workpiece on edge and cut the notches (Figure 2). You’ll make these cuts in both workpieces before adjusting the position of the fence for the next dado. Note that the bottom dado is wider. Because it’s on the end, it forms a rabbet and you’ll need to set up an auxiliary fence to make this cut.
ROD HOLES. The last step before moving to the shelves is to drill the holes for the stainless steel rods. Do this at the drill press with a brad-point bit.
The two middle shelves and the bottom (shown later) are made from one solid piece of stock. They have tenons on each end that fit into the notches on the sides. You’ll make all three of these parts now, but the bottom gets installed a little later.
TWIN TENONS. To make the tenons on the end of the shelves, you’ll stand the workpiece on end and use a dado blade to cut away the waste between them. However, the tenons are exposed through the sides, so you’ll want a snug, clean fit. To achieve this, start removing the waste from the center of the shelf. As you get towards the tenon edge, set the rip fence as a stop. Then, you can make a pass with each edge against the rip fence (Figure 1) and test the fit. Then, it’s just a matter of sneaking up on the perfect, gap-free fit.
STAINLESS STEEL RODS. Before slapping glue on the tenons and getting the shelves glued into the sides, you’ll want to have the stainless steel rods ready. These can be cut to length with a hacksaw in a vise (Figure 2).
A SMALL ASSEMBLY. With the bottom set aside for now, you can assemble the two center shelves and the sides. Apply glue to the dadoes and inside of the tenons, and insert the shelves into one side. Make sure to get the stainless steel rods in place as well (even the ones for the bottom shelf). Then, apply glue to the other side and get it in place. The dadoes and notches should be pretty self-squaring, but it never hurts to check the assembly while the glue is wet and make any necessary adjustments. Now it’s onto making the top and installing the bottom.