Porch Deck and Patio

Patio Prep Cart

Outdoor Projects

Patio Prep Cart

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects

This elegant rolling cook’s cart will take your outdoor cooking to a higher level without breaking your bank account. Whether the point is to impress or simply to make your outdoor entertaining a bit more pleasant, setting up an outdoor kitchen that revolves around this clever cart and an ordinary grill is easy. And, because this cart (and most grills) are on wheels, they’re easy to move as needed and to roll away into storage.

This cart features 8 square feet of countertop space, a storage cabinet with shelves, and a dedicated place for a refrigerator. The sides are made from 1 × 4 cedar or a similar exterior-grade lumber. Use corrosion-resistant screws to assemble this cart. The screws that attach the siding are driven from the outside, leaving the heads exposed to act as a design feature.

This outdoor kitchen cart employs eight 12 × 12" tiles for the countertop, minimizing the joints in the countertop surface. To simplify construction the tiles are set with construction adhesive (instead of thinset mortar) and the joints between the tiles are filled with exterior caulk (instead of tile grout).

cutting list

patio prep cart diagram

How to Build a Patio Prep Cart

  1. HI05711801

    This outdoor kitchen cart is essentially a skeleton of 2 × 4 cedar wrapped in cedar siding and capped off with large tiles. Start by building the skeleton: that is, the frame. Cut the bottom supports, posts, and top rails to length. Cut the bottom panel and center panel to length and width.

    Attach two of the posts to the center panel with 1 1⁄4" screws. Place the center panel and bottom panel on their sides and attach the bottom panel to the posts with 2 1⁄2" screws.

  2. HI05711802

    With the panels on their edges, attach two of the corner posts to the bottom panel. Flip the assembly right-side up and attach one of the top rails to the top of the corner posts and center panel post. Attach the other two corner posts and top rail. Attach the bottom supports to the bottom panel with 1 1⁄4" screws.

  3. HI05711803

    Cut the corner stiles to length and width. Attach the corner stiles to the corner posts with four 1 1⁄4" screws. Drill a countersunk, 1⁄8"-dia. pilot hole and countersunk hole for each screw. Cut the front-bottom rail to length and width and attach it to the front-bottom support with four 1 1⁄4" screws and decorative finish washers. Cut the side siding and back siding pieces to length. Drill two 1⁄8" pilot holes in each end of each siding board. Space the holes 1" in from the ends and 3⁄4" in from the edges.

  4. HI05711804

    Attach the siding boards to the corner posts with 1 1⁄4" screws, spacing the boards 1⁄4" apart. Drill a 1 1⁄4"-dia. hole near the bottom of the back of the refrigerator section for the power cord to fit through.

  5. HI05711805

    Measure and mark the shelf heights on the inside faces of the left side siding and center divider. Here, the shelves are spaced so the lowest shelf opening is 15" high. The middle opening is 10" high and the top opening is 8" high. The shelf supports are sized so the shelves will not interfere with the front corner posts. Attach the shelf supports with 1 1⁄4" screws driven through countersunk pilot holes in the supports and into the cabinet walls. Cut the shelves from 3⁄4"-thick plywood (preferably cedar plywood). Cut 1 1⁄2" × 3 1⁄2" notches in the left corners of each shelf board to fit around the posts. Drive a few brads down through the shelves and into the supports to secure them.

  6. HI05711806

    Cut the door stiles to length. Cut the door siding to length and the top door siding board to length and width. Drill two 1⁄8" pilot holes in each end of each full-width door siding board. Space the holes 1" in from the ends and 3⁄4" in from the edges. Drill one 1⁄8" pilot hole in each end of the top door siding board. Attach the siding boards to the door stiles with 1 1⁄4" screws.

  7. HI05711807

    Tip the cabinet upside down and place one caster in each corner (here, 2 1⁄2" casters are being installed). Mark the caster screw holes and drill 3⁄16" pilot holes for each screw. Fasten the casters with 1⁄4" × 1 1⁄2" hot-dipped lag screws.

  8. HI05711808

    To hang the door, attach zinc-plated or brass hinges (a pair of 3" butt hinges will do) to the door and the left corner post and corner stile. Also add a handle (an aluminum door pull installed vertically is used here) as well as a latch and strikeplate to hold the door closed.

  9. HI05711809

    The top for this cart features a 3⁄4"-thick plywood subbase that supports a cementboard backer for the tiles (here, eight 12 × 12" porcelain tiles). Cut the plywood subbase to size from exterior plywood and attach it to the top rails with 11⁄4" deck screws. Cut a piece of tile backer board (here, 1⁄2" thick cementboard) to 24 × 48". Attach the backer board to the subbase with construction adhesive and 1" screws (make sure the screwheads are recessed below the cementboard surface).

    Attach the tiles to the backer board with construction adhesive.

  10. HI05711810

    Cut the top sides, front and back edging pieces to length from cedar 1 × 2. Drill countersunk, 1⁄8"-dia. pilot holes in the edging pieces and attach them to the subbase edges with construction adhesive and brads. Fill gaps around tile with caulk. Apply a clear, UV-protectant finish to the wood surface and seal the tiles.