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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > How-To Articles > Building a Portable Serving Cart

Building a Portable Serving Cart

Using the same design as our children's lemonade stand but painted in a more subtle colour-scheme, a serving cart is the perfect piece for adult outdoor entertaining. Both designs include wheels for easy mobility, an umbrella to provide shade from the summer sun, and storage for extra entertaining goodies. Guests will be impressed with your handiwork when you serve from this versatile cart. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Tools & Materials


  •   • Circular saw
  •   • Drill/driver with bits
  •   • Hammer
  •   • Tape measure
  •   • Dust mask
  •   • Goggles
  •   • Hearing Protection
  •   • Unfinished oak two-door wall cabinet - 30 x 30 x 12 inches
  •   • 2 unfinished oak cabinet skins
  •   • 1/2-inch-thick plywood
  •   • 16 (1 3/4-inch) galvanized carriage bolts


  •   • 1 quart paint (Laura Ashley Home, Taupe 3 #609, high gloss)
  •   • 21/2-inch wood screws
  •   • 2 white metal hooks
  •   • 2 (2-inch) wood ball knobs
  •   • 8-foot, 2-inch wood market umbrella
  •   • pole anchor
  •   • 2 (20- to 40-pound) bags sand
  •   • 4 swivel industrial casters
  •   • 16 locker washers
  •   • 16 hex nuts
  •   • 1 quart primer
  •   • Black spray paint
  •   • Polyurethane


Step 1A: Apply wood glue to the outer sides of the cabinet.

Step 1B: Attach the unfinished cabinet skins to the outer sides of the wall cabinet using wood glue. Allow to dry. Place bricks or other heavy objects on top to hold panels in position until glue sets, approximately 30 minutes.

Step 2: Cut paint-grade 1/2-inch-thick plywood to 30 x 30 inches, and attach to back of cabinet with wood glue and finishing nails. This adds support for balance to the cabinet.

Step 3: Turn cabinet upside down, and glue four corner blocks, cut from a 1 x 6, to fill the lip and to create a base for casters.

Step 4: To find centre of cabinet top, place an "X" from corner to corner. Drill a 1 1/2-inch-diameter hole. (Note: Umbrellas poles may vary in diameter, so check yours, and drill holes accordingly.) To find the centre of the tabletop, place it on top of the cabinet. With your measuring tape, balance the space at an equal distance, and trace the rectangle onto the tabletop. Use the "X" method again to find the approximate centre of the tabletop. Drill hole in tabletop.

Step 5: Drill pilot holes in corner blocks through cabinet base for casters. Using 1 3/4-inch galvanized carriage bolts, affix casters to cabinet base from the outside. Secure casters with locker washers and hex nuts on the inside.

Step 6: Prime all pieces of the cabinet and tabletop.

Step 7: Paint the tabletop and cabinet inside and out. Let dry completely.

Step 8: Using 2 1/2-inch wood screws, attach the tabletop from the inside of the cabinet.

Step 9: Add painted decorative touches to the front of cabinet and tabletop as you wish. Your choice of umbrella may help you determine what to paint.

Step 10: Apply a clear polyurethane sealer to the whole piece to protect the finish.

Step 11: Spray paint two wooden knobs and the hooks; attach to cabinet when dry.

Step 12: Using a saw, remove up to 6 inches from the bottom of your umbrella pole to balance the weight of the umbrella and cabinet.

Step 13: Attach a pole anchor to inside base of the cabinet to hold umbrella in place. Poles and pole anchors vary in size, so check your umbrella. Place two 20- to 40-pound bags of sand in the bottom of cabinet for stability.

Originally published in Lowe's Creative Ideas for Home and Garden July/August 2000. ©SPC Custom Publishing

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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