Want to Make a Kool Kitchen Kart? Then Read On!

wooden kitchen cart
The final kitchen cart

One of the great things about custom woodworking is you can design a piece to fit perfectly in the space available.  In this case we designed a kitchen cart to fit in a small breakfast nook.  The final measurements were 48 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 32 inches high from the floor to the top shelf.  This design is very scalable, though, and the dimensions could easily be modified to fit your space.  In addition, we went with three shelves here, but two or four would work just as well.

metal hand rails
Metal Hand Rails

The metal handrails on the side beg a bit of discussion.  You could easily make a handhold out of wood, or buy a simple handle from a hardware store to go on the side.  In this case, we collaborated with Black Oak Forge in Juneau, Wisconsin which crafted the side rails to meet our specifications.  One of the benefits of this type of rail was that I could raise it up and down to get the client’s feedback on the height then screw it into the frame.  Another benefit was we could specify the exact width and height to meet our needs.  Another is that I’d say it’s much more esthetically pleasing then a hardware store handle.  Lastly, it was fun to work with another small business owner on a project like this.

raw hard maple
The Raw Hard Maple

As far as the wood, you could make a quite nice cart with pine or oak from Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards (our local Wisconsin chain), but we wanted something a little unique and went with hard maple from Kettle Moraine Hardwoods.  They have great selection and the staff was very helpful.  If you’re looking for some advice before hitting the wood dealer, check out the post How to Buy Lumber:  A Trip to the Hardwood Dealer.

Here are a few thoughts to consider in your piece:

The Top.  The top is 1″ thick which sets it apart from your usual store-bought furniture which tends to be 3/4″ think.  Also, I joined two 6″ boards to achieve the 12″ width since flawless 12″ wide boards are difficult to find (and expensive).

The Aprons.  We designed this with somewhat thick aprons (the horizontal supports under the shelves), due to the length of the piece.  A 4 foot long shelf could easily sag in the middle, but with these 3/4″ thick aprons that run 2″ wide, there is plenty of support.

The Legs.  We chose 2″ thick legs so that we could drill long tenons from the aprons into the legs.  Lastly, the bottom shelf is attached to the legs with very thick tenons.

The Edges.  We couldn’t very well leave the sharp edges as they were so I gave each edge five strokes with a piece of sandpaper at varying angles to give them a nice smooth edge.  I had debated routing with a 1/4″ roundover bit as I’ve done a several other pieces, but was inspired by some of the craftsmen I had seen recently in Door County (Wisconsin) who used a more subtle edge.  We may try this approach more in the future.

The Casters.  Be sure the casters are set far enough out to the edge of the piece so that the brakes can easily be engage with a toe.  Also, we added a 3/4″ pad underneath each caster so the screws that attach the casters had enough wood to “grab.”  The casters at the local hardware store will do the trick, but we went upscale and ordered this model from Woodcraft online.

The Finish.  The client was adamant about a matte finish in order to minimize the dusting required, and given that a matte finish is uncommon for an oil finish we tried Minwax Polycrylic water-based matte finish, which was quite easy to apply and dried quickly (2 hours between coats).  Three coats did the trick.

If you have any questions, feel free to fire away at the “comments” link on this page.

To see our daily shenanigans in the wood shop, check out our Instagram posts here.

How to Make a Very Cool and Simple Cutting Board in a Few Hours

Thanks for all the positive feedback on the various Instagram cutting board videos!  So you don’t have to chase them down individually, I consolidated them here in one spot.  Enjoy!

This video clip covers some of the initial design thoughts and what spurred the idea:


This video talks about wood selection:

The glue up:

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Cutting board glue up! #wood #woodworking #cuttingboard

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Finishing #1:

Finishing #2:

The operational cutting board:

For more videos, check out our Instagram site here.


The Cornhole Plan, or How to Jazz up your Next Party

The Cornhole Master!

Want to make your own cornhole set in just a few hours?

Multiple friends have asked for my cornhole plans and the cornhole sets have been flying off the shelves at Traughber Design, so I thought I’d put this how-to guide out for everyone.  If you’re not familiar with cornhole, it is a very simple game that is a great icebreaker for parties.  It’s so popular there is even an American Cornhole Organization (check out the rules here).

Here is what you need (Lowes has all of this):

A 4′ x 8′ sheet of half inch plywood
Three 8′ 2x4s (you may need four if you don’t have any scrap for the legs)
Four 3/8″ diameter 4″ long carriage bolts with wing nuts
Glue or fasteners (more on those later)

Step 1: cut the plywood in half with a circular saw (or Tracksaw for you Festool fans) so you have two 2′ x 4′ pieces of plywood.  This will give you two regulation-sized playing surfaces.

cornhole circle dimensions
Circle Dimensions

Step 2: cut the holes.  This is probably the trickiest part since not too many people have a jigsaw and jigsaw accessory to cut a perfect hole, but there are ways around it.  First of all, your hole needs to be 6 inches in diameter to be “legal” according to the ACO.  Center the hole 9 inches from the top of the sheet of plywood (see picture).

If you are fortunate enough (remember when we talked about investing in tools in blog post #2?) to own a Festool Carvex jigsaw (another option is described below), then drill a 4mm hole at the center of the circle, insert the circle attachment pin, drill a 10mm hole at the edge of the circle to accommodate the jigsaw blade and cut away.

Festool Carvex jigsaw
Festool Carvex Jigsaw with Circle Cutting Attachment

You will probably need to use a wood rasp to even the edges where you originally cut the 10mm hole.  If you don’t have a Carvex, you can still put a nail where the center of the hole goes and tie some string or twine between the nail and your jigsaw.  Make sure you cut a hole on the arc of the circle with a drill bit large enough for the blade of your jigsaw to start in.  After you’ve cut the circle, clean up the edges with a wood rasp.


Titebond III glue
Trusted Glue

Step 3: make the frame.  Cut one of the 8′ 2x4s into four 2′ sections, two for each cornhole frame.  Then cut two 45″ sections from two 8′ 2x4s which gives you two for each frame.  Drill the holes for the carriage bolts with a drill press before joining the boards together so the holes are parallel.  The holes are 3/8″ in diameter and 2 inches from the end of the board.  If you have a Festool Domino, join the two 24″ sections to the two 45″ sections with two tenons at each joint.  I prefer the 10mm by 50mm tenons since the joined boards are 37mm thick (using the 1/3 rule the tenons would be no more than 12mm).  If you don’t have a Domino, you can either screw or nail the boards together.  Make sure you put the holes for the legs opposite each other when you are joining the boards.

clamping cornhold frame
Clamping the Cornhole Frame

Step 4: attach the playing surface to the frame next.  I like to use glue to attach the plywood to the 2x4s since it eliminates ugly metal fasteners which have to be covered with wood filler later.  The glue method will only work if you have a lot of wood clamps, though.  I use over a dozen clamps on each 2′ x 4′ piece of plywood because you want a lot of clamping pressure to ensure the bond stays strong in any weather.  I’ve had good luck with Titebond III glue.  If you don’t have a lot of clamps, I recommend screwing or nailing the plywood to the frame and covering them with wood filler or covering them with paint.  Make sure you align the part of the frame with the leg holes at the same end of the plywood that has the 6″ hole.

cornhole leg dimensions
Cornhole Leg Dimensions

Step 5: make and attach the legs (see picture).  These can easily be cut from some scrap 2x4s.  First drill the holes using a drill press if you have one or a hand drill.  Then cut the 45 degree angles at the top and the 15 degree angle at the bottom.  Attach the legs to the frame and test to make sure the legs swing freely.  If they don’t you may have to trip a bit from the top of the legs.


Step 6: apply finish.  Some people prefer paint and some prefer stain.  If painting, I recommend a latex primer then at least one coat of semi-gloss paint.  For stain, I recommend at least one coat of stain then at least two coats of polyurethane varnish to give the surface enough slickness for the bean bags.  For more information on our finishing process, check out our post on finishing the cherry coat rack commission.

Speaking of bean bags, I tested bags from a local discount store as well as the local sporting goods store and they fell apart during the first game.  I highly recommend the double stitched canvas bags from All-American Tailgate.  We’ve used their bean bags for several parties and they are still going strong.

This project should only take a few hours to make and will give you many hours of cornhole-playing fun.  Enjoy!