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Over the years, I have bought and sold more antique “shoe carts” than I can properly remember.  These antique shelves on wheels are called shoe carts because they were often used in shoe factories to transport shoes around the factory.  I have found carts that are all different shapes and sizes and made in different styles.  Some have spindles making the “shelves” instead of a board (like the first shelf.)  I always preferred the ones that had solid shelves (or could be adapted with boards) so they were more versatile.  I’ve mostly used these antique shoe carts for retail display or storage in my old studio in PA, but I did use one or two in my home over the years in my kitchen and home office.

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

When I was an antique dealer, I bought and sold a lot of ironstone, so these carts were fantastic for displaying stacks of plates and bowls.

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

I also used them for displaying products from the MMS Milk Paint line.  (Do you see how we painted each label in the corresponding paint color?  I always loved putting together little details like that when I styled retail spaces.)

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

But, this antique shoe cart was one of my favorite finds.  Someone had removed the tilted racks which made the piece a little too shoe-specific and replaced them with custom-cut boards painted to match the old cream paint.  The fact that the shelves could be removed made the piece that much more versatile.  Not only could you put the shelves where you wanted them, but you could remove them entirely making the piece lightweight and easy to move.  As someone who moved a lot of furniture, I appreciated those qualities!

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

Despite this being the perfect piece to hold onto, I sold it.  If you followed me during my antique dealer years, you know that I would sell pretty much anything.  I kept a few of my very favorite pieces, but I always reminded myself that I bought pieces to sell.  I might want to hang onto them for a while, style and photograph them, love on them, and then send them along to a new home.

There were times I regretted selling such a versatile piece until I received an e-mail from a woodworking blogger, Jaime of That’s My Letter.  She asked if I could help her with approximate measurements, so she could make plans and build a reproduction of the shoe cart I sold!  It was a welcome e-mail because I had been considering having Jeff build me something similar as a replacement.

Here is the antique shoe cart reproduction she came up with…

You can find the free plans for the reproduction shoe cart HERE.

It worked out great for me because I was able to hand Jeff some details woodworking plans instead of my usual pencil sketch.  So, one afternoon, Jeff (assisted by a friend) built two of them for me.  They were painted in two coats of .  That color is currently out of stock on , but would be a nice substitute.  Since milk paint is so fantastic on raw wood, I didn’t apply a finish.  Milk paint will have a very matte finish if left raw, so you can add a wax, hemp oil, or clear top coat.

If you haven’t used Milk Paint before, you can find writing and video tutorials on painting and finishing with MMS Milk Paint products HERE.

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

The inspiration antique shoe cart was made with mortise and tenon joinery, which would’ve been time-consuming to make, so the reproduction version is constructed with pocket holes and screws using a Kreg Pockethold Jig.  is the jig system we have, but is a simplified and much less expensive Kreg Jig if you only do projects here and there.  Jeff was able to build two of them in just a few hours, but it helped that he had a friend to help as well as a nice woodworking shop set-up.

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

Here is a closer look at the pocket hole construction.  Kreg does have wood plugs to fill the holes, but I wasn’t too worried about hiding the holes for this specific project.

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

To make our reproduction cart mobile, we added that work with the industrial feel of the design.

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

Ober the years, these carts got heavy use for storage in the studio and to be used for retail display at antique markets…

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

antique shoe cart reproduction & inspiration | miss mustard seed

If you’d like to find an antique shoe cart instead of building a reproduction, you can often find them at antique markets and on , , and Facebook Marketplace.

You can find more woodworking tutorials and projects HERE.

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    8 Comments

    1. Janine

      I’m so glad to see you’re calling these shoe carts! I purchased one years ago & that’s what it was called. They said it was used by a cobbler. I have seen them used as display shelves & called baker’s racks! I love my antique shoe cart! Love all that you do.❤️

    2. beverlee

      I love seeing your memories….I remember those days, watching you pull it all together and being successful. You are the lady of a thousand paintbrushes///

    3. Kristine Puzel

      These shoe racks are beautiful…and styled beautifully too. I also remember all the posts about Milk Paint and Lucketts Market. I can see how these shoe racks would literally fit in almost anywhere in a home, bringing a warm, vintage charm to wherever they are placed.

    4. Nan, Odessa, DE

      Very interesting!
      Now, please, post about the handled basket on wheels near your refrigerator.
      Please!!

    5. Kim

      I always loved those rolling carts!

    6. Wendi Unrein

      Marian yet again you nail a great idea!! For an artist it is ideal even more for those attached wheels! I want 3!! My great great grandfather was a NY cobbler and a great uncle was in the shoe business too. This would be a special connection to have! Being in Kansas City this may pose a challenge but will see! Thanks for this friend!!

    7. KathieB

      Loved this post. I’ve never seen an antique shoe cart so that was so interesting as the great granddaughter of a cobbler. I loved the spirit of sharing and creativity too. It’s definitely a positive side of social media. And finally this post is so timely for me in that I have just replaced some old dressers in my walk-in-robe with new flat packs. It hurt my heart to do it as I naturally prefer old over new and definitely prefer wood over flat packs but sometimes newer or reproduction things are just more practical or affordable. I love my organised robe and can appreciate my antiques in the living areas. Thank you for this post.

    8. Jennifer

      Every time I see your collection of ironstone or some in your old pics of markets I’m stunned by how much you are able to find. I live in Texas and it is not so plentiful here and the prices are usually higher. I’m also a collector of ironstone so I’m always on the lookout for new-old pieces that I don’t have. I guess I need to make a trip up your way! Thanks for the inspiration pics.

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    Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

    I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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