Simple Lathe Tool Cart

I’m at the beginning of a project that has turning work out the wazoo. Eight legs that are turned, with stop-flutes, too. My lathe and its tools were my Dad’s at one time. His lathe tools hung on a wall behind the lathe – he had easy access. Where the lathe is in my shop, there are no accessible walls close by. In fact for the past five or more years, the lathe tools sat on the floor in the wall mount from my Dad’s shop.

Things needed to change, so I designed and built this simple lathe tool cart our of scrap pieces of 3/4″ plywood and a few lengths of 1-1/2″-diameter schedule 40 PVC. And I attached the box to a cheap furniture dolly to make it mobile. The best part is that the assembly is all pocket screws, and when you purchase additional tools, the rack area is easily expanded.

Here are the incredibly simple directions.

TIP: My pocket screw jig is forever set for 3/4″-thick material. Instead of adjusting the setup, pull the end of your jig back slightly to keep the screws from poking through.


Assemble one side and the back using pocket screws.
Slip the bottom into place and attach it to the side and back. Use a square to get the bottom set level in your box.
Drill screw pockets into the two parts that make up the L-shaped section, which are the angled back and tube support. (I placed my pockets out of the way for a cleaner look, but getting to the screws was a bit difficult.) Assemble the two parts with a few screws through the edge of the back into the support then attach the assembly to your side. The angle of tilt is your call. I have mine set at about 25°.
Slip the second side into position and drive screws to hold the parts tight. With 12″ of space and a long driver for my pocket screws, a regular drill couldn’t fit into the area. This is the place for a right-angle drill/driver. It’s also an excuse to purchase another tool. I used Ridgid’s 12-Volt, Lithium-Ion, 1/4″ Cordless Palm Impact Screwdriver. (More about this tool is below.)
Attach your box to the dolly. I drove two screws per side and one in the back to keep everything secure.
Cut and fit the PVC pipes then snug your tube squeeze tight against the top of your pipes. This is where the setup becomes expandable. Remove the squeeze, add more pipes then lock it tight again.
With your pipes removed, flip the unit upside down on your top and drive a few screws into your pockets. I repeated my screw placement from the base – two on each side and one in the middle of the back.

As I moved my cart around the shop, I wondered if it would be top heavy. But if it turns out to be, I’ll drop a small weight into its bottom. (Right now I have a pre-cutter that’s part of my T-124 copy lathe.) I also have considered adding a second shelf if storage becomes important.

About That Ridgid Palm Driver

When I first used the #R8224K palm driver, I was disappointed. It wouldn’t drive a drywall screw. The more I pushed, the less work was done. It was then that I realized that you don’t need to push. (Yea, I know!) All you need to do is apply enough pressure to turn on the light and follow the screw. This tool is lightweight and easy to use. At $99 for the kit (charger and 1.5 Amp-hour battery) you may think it’s expensive, but when you need a small driver to get into tight spaces, it’s money well spent. Plus, it works great in wide-open spaces, too. Get more information here.

— Glen D. Huey has other articles on shop-made carts and shop-made jigs. It’s all available when you become a Fanatic. It will be the best $36 you’ve spent to build your woodworking skills. Go here to join.

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One thought on “Simple Lathe Tool Cart

  1. This is a nice project for those who need to store their lathe tools somewhere handy.
    Simple to build and mobile.
    I’ve used those furniture dollies under some of my tool cabinets and they work fine.
    Also, for projects like this, pocket hole joinery is perfect.
    Thanks Glen.

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