I closed the listing, dismissing it, and kept clicking around, but those carts stuck in my mind. There was something about the shape of them… AND they were dirt cheap. Cheap enough that it was worth the gamble, even if it seemed a little nutty.
I sent the listing along to my dad and he delivered them a couple of weeks ago to my studio. When he drove up with them in the back of the truck, I realized they were much larger than I anticipated. Carts that I thought would be about waist high were almost up to my shoulder!
The gigantic wheels were cool in their own way, but not right for what I had in mind and they made the carts a height that wouldn’t be functional for most people. I was initially thinking kitchen island, garden cart, crafting cart, even a TV stand and those all need to be about counter height.
The problem is that the wheels were soldered on. I was this close to waiving the white flag and listing them back on craigslist, but I decided to push through and follow my initial instincts.
I shared in a different post that the Mustard Seed Studio is located in a small industrial park and the “guys in the back buildings” work with sheet metal. I decided to take a stroll back there to ask if they knew how I could get these wheels off. They referred me to a machine shop that was practically across the street. I could see it from my studio window and I had never noticed it before.
“Alright, Kriste, we’re taking the carts for a walk!”
She raised her eyebrows and questioned in a flat tone, “Really?”
“Yes! Let’s just get this done!!”
So, I made my introverted employee walk down the street with me pushing a large, blue industrial cart to the machine shop.
They removed the wheels for me and a few other random metal bits on the bottom that weren’t going to work with my plans for them. It cost $70 to have the work done to both carts, so $35/each.
As a bonus, now I know where to take metal things that need to be repaired or removed!
My dad added wood boards to the bottom (just cut to size and hammered tightly into place.)
I screwed in some 2″ steel wheels picked up from Lowe’s. These are my favorite inexpensive casters. They roll well and have a great vintage look to them.
And then they needed to be painted. They were once gray (icky industrial gray) and someone painted them with a blue latex paint. My mom pointed out that we should’ve painted them in Flow Blue or something that would’ve covered in one coat, but I really wanted them white. I knew they would be a bear to paint, but I had my heart set!
We painted them in MMS Milk Paint in Farmhouse White, without the Bonding Agent or sanding.
Kriste, Katie, my mom and I all took turns painting them and, after three coats, the coverage was good. They looked a little flat…too perfect, so I hit the edges with some sand paper to chip off some paint and lightly ran a sanding sponge over the flat surfaces to smooth out the paint and knock down any “high points” on the piece. There is some gorgeous crazing in the finish and it turned out better than I expected.
To protect the finish, we sealed both pieces with the new matte Tough Coat.
I really wanted a wood top on them. I felt like the carts needed the warmth of the wood as well as a clean, smooth work surface. The latex paint layer left some crinkles and orange peeling.
With measurements in hand, I poked around our basement workshop to see if we had any wood that would work. I was so excited to see that we had enough of the butcher block remnants from our kitchen counters! They are solid black walnut and will be a perfect finishing touch.
Jeff cut them to size on the table saw for me. They were cut to be an exact fit, so they fit in the metal “fence” nice and snug.
I applied a coat of all-natural food safe Hemp Oil and left the surface wet, so I could “wet sand” it with some fine grit sand paper. This makes surfaces buttery smooth.
I wiped off the excess oil and the carts were done!! I was so excited to see these ugly, blue cleaning carts turned into something I really love.
I brought some pots and pans from home to style the cart as it might be used in a kitchen as an island or just a storage cart. (It would even be great for holding a microwave, as a coffee station, etc.)
The metal brackets that would’ve been used to steady mops, brooms and vacuums or as garbage bag holders, were put to use as a pot rack and dish towel holder.
I brought some copper pots, bowls and bunt pans form home, but I’m hoping to find some to sell at Lucketts for styling the cart.
The surface is food safe, so it really could be used for food prep, which I felt was important to make it truly functional. Even if it’s used in a place other than a kitchen, it’s a nice feature.
The low side shelves are perfect for baskets, stacking trays or mixing bowls, cutting boards, etc. You could even fit a small waste basket there.
Can you just see all of the potential?!
The middle shelf on both the carts is a little bent, but I “fixed” that by using a bread board to level things out. A tray or basket could also work.
The shelves are big and deep, so they could hold a lot of stuff.
Yeah, I had a little love fest with this cart today, if you can’t tell from all of the pictures!
Since these are so versatile, I am going to show the cart staged in a few different ways in the coming weeks, just for fun.
So, if you see a cleaning cart on craigslist for dirt cheap…well, you just might want to pick it up.