How I Create Art - The Build ProcessMetal WorkingWoodshop NewsWoodworking

Building A Bar Cart For a Mining Engineer

Building A Bar Cart For a Mining Engineer

This was a fun little project I built for a client who is a mining engineer and a wine connoisseur. The overall design of the cart was taken from a miner’s dump cart. There is a mining museum here in Colorado that I visited to get reference material for the design. I found that real mining carts are awkward and ugly in proportions, basically designed to fit as much dirt in them and still be manageable. So I took some liberties with the authenticity in the design to make it look sexy. The wood portions: top, inner arch, and wine rack I made from ebonized oak. The rest was fabricated from mild steel stock. The base is 3” channel, the bent arch is 2” flat bar, and the frame around the top was fabricated from angle iron.


For more Project photos of the Miners Bar Cart 

This project was a combination of Woodworking and metalworking. The Ice bucket is made from white oak that I burned the wood to create an old-world look. The wine rack top is also white oak that I did an ebonizing finish on, resolving steel wool in vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, to turn it black. The inner arch is a bent lamination of 1/8” strips of white oak with the same ebonizing treatment.

The out arch is mild steel bent around the same form, with holes in to accept the rivets to give it a riveted together look, adding to its old-world charm. The top frame has the same rivets and is made out of angle iron so hold the wood top.

The chassis is some steel channel with some cartwheel welded to it along with a customized D ring and hook to complete the look.

This was one of the most labor-intensive builds ever, especially in the metalworking areas since I have limited metalworking tools compared to my woodworking tools.


List of specialty tools and materials in this build

Forrest Woodworker II

Incra Miter Gauge


Video Transcript

Today I’m building a Bar Cart for Miners. It’s equipped with everything a miner needs to stay properly hydrated with a little class while working in the mine. We have our glasses, Ice bucket, and wine storage, all on a cart ready to travel down the tracks.
The first step I needed to build a bending form to do a bent lamination to create the arches for the ends.

To make sure I had a good square surface to clamp to, I used the table saw to plunge cut a straight line in the center of my template. We will come back to the inner cut in a minute.

I cut the initial shape out at the band saw and faired the curve with a little hand sanding.

Once I was satisfied with the curve, I went back to the band saw to cut out the center, being sure that I cut a series of flat spots on the inner edge for the clamps.

To create the offset for the outer clamping blocks, I used a router bit close to the same thickness as the finished arch.

I cut the outer ring into segments, glued and screwed plywood layers to build up the thickness I need, and routed them to shape with a pattern bit.

I resawed some oak down to about 1/8” thick and prepped it for glue-up to create the bent laminations.

I used a plastic resin glue that dries hard with very little spring back for this glue-up. This type comes as a powder and has to be mixed with water.

When I cut the strips, I ensured that I kept track of the order they were cut in. This helps disguise the cut lines as the grain will still flow looks as it flows together from one strip to the next.

Once I got all the pieces stacked up, I screwed my form down to the table to prevent it from moving. This kind of glue up will require some force to get it to bend around the form.

Then I just worked my way from the center to each edge, clamping out all the gaps, so it was a tight fit all the way around.

I needed two of them, and each one had to sit in the clamps for a full day, so while the glue was curing on those, I went to work on the cart’s frame.

For the cart, I used some 3” channel and cut out the frame’s basic parts.
I’m working mainly in a woodshop, so I hung some fire resistant blankets to contain the grinder’s sparks and cleaned off the mill scale.

To add some additional details to the cart, I traced the channel’s shape onto some flat bar and cut it out.
I then welded it in place to create an endcap. Once its ground smoothes, it will look monolithic.

Before welding the cap on, I drilled some holes on the frame’s ends and in the caps themselves.
The frame will be welded together; however, you know a little artistic depth to give it a steampunk vibe. I’m going to add some large rivets in these holes.
To give it a look and feel that it was built using rivets.

I welded the caps on, ground them flush, and then welded up the frame.

I welded up some angle iron to create a frame to hold the wood bar top.

I laid out for more rivets, propped the angle iron upon an old 2×4, and drilled out the holes.
Then to install the rivets, I just tack welded them in place from behind.
From there, I Clamped up the frame, checked it for square, and welded it up.

I picked up some hooks from the tractor supply store to modify, so they looked like they were custom made for the cart.

They came galvanized and painted, so I had this jar of a custom blend of acid laying around and soaked them for about 10 minutes in the jar to remove the galvanizing and paint. It was also strong enough to etch into the metal to give it kind of an old-timey look.

I cut the rings for the cotter pin off, then cut a strip of metal to mount it to. I drilled a couple of holes in the side of the strip that I will later weld in some rivets to give the allusion that this plate was attached to the cart with Rivets. I think these little details give the piece more depth and visual interest.
I moved on to making a custom mount for the hook. I split the end of the Channel in half, creating 2 L pieces that I welded together. Once I ground the weld flush, it looked like it was one piece.
I drilled a hole for the hook’s cotter pin to go through and welded it to its mount with the same holes in it for the rivets.
These Clips I’m welding on are what the wood brace will attach to hold up the top.
I know, I know, it would be cool if the cart rolled around on the wheels, but I don’t think it would be cool after it scratched the client’s hardwood floors, So I welded the wheels in place, and before I deliver it to the client, I will make some custom pads to go under the steel.

Back to the bent lamination rings, I wanted to add a metal band around them, tight to the wood like a wagon wheel. I had this plan that I would also build a forge to heat the metal and bend it around the wood template, we’d have some flames and smoke, and I would have some really dramatic video to show you, but as the delivery date for this project loomed, I didn’t have enough time to build one, and the cost of buying a forge wasn’t in the cards. So I decided to cold bend it in a less dramatic way.

So I bent it around the form to get the bend started and then went back and for the between my bender and the form to take the spring back out of it.
This banding is going to have decorative rivets installed into it as well, so I drilled some holes in it to accept the rivets. These will also be just tack welded from behind.
Once I was satisfied with the bend and rivet placement, I paid my attention to cleaning up the bent lamination’s wooden portion.
I jointed one edge to clean it up. Then I added an auxiliary fence that was a little taller than my normal fence to give me a little bit more support and cut them to width.
And finally, I cut the hoops to length.

I milled up some stock for cross braces. The thick cross brace is going to attach the bar to the cart, and the thinner piece will be the end caps for the wine bottle holders.

I clamped the top piece in position; to be sure my arched piece was in the right shape and traced the arch onto my end caps.

I cut the curve out on the bandsaw, being sure to leave the line.
Then I finessed the curve with my disc sand, slowly sneaking up to my line.
A little back and forth to check the fit as I went until I got a perfect fit.

I milled up some lumber to create the upper and lower panels for the wine rack.
The wine rack is basically little cubbies for the bottles to slide into.

I cut a dado down the center of the bottom board for the cubbies and then made a jig to help ensure each cubbie was spaced the same distance apart and that the corresponding dado’s in the top lined up exactly the ones in the bottom.
The jig is basically a plywood strip cut to the width of the cubby plus the width of the diver, then a strip of wood the same width as the dado glued to the edge.
This strip drops in the 1st dado cut, giving the router a ride against locating and cutting the next dado.
I worked my way from the center out and then did the same thing on the top; the only difference is that the top ones are stopped dados.
I squared up the dados with a mallet and chisel and moved on to cutting and fitting the cubby dividers.
I didn’t want the cubby dividers to have square ends, so I used the old paste wax can trick to draw in a radius.

I cut it at the bandsaw and cleaned it up with the spindle sander. I used the first one as a template to trace out the rest and repented the fabrication process.

I Cut some slots for floating tenons to be used to attach the end caps to the wine cubbies.

Before I did the final assembly, I prefinished all the parts using an ebonizing treatment to turn the wood black; the solution was a mixture of steel wool, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. Usually, it takes a few minutes to turn the wood black. However, this solution was leftover from a project I did last year, so fermenting it for a year seems to have made it especially potent. It almost immediately blackened the wood.

While that was drying, I moved on to making the supports for the bar top. They are going to be decorative curves. So I printed out a template of the curves and laid them out on the wood, being sure I lined the grain up the best I could so I would have any week where the templates curved.
I rough-cut the parts out at the band saw,
Then I jointed the edge where the two halves come together with floating tenons.
After the glue dried, I made a plywood template and pattern routed the final shape.
I also picked up the largest bolt the tractor supply store had in stock to attach the bar top to the frame. Also, it added a nice industrial mining look to the cart.

Now that the finish is dry on the wine cubbies, I did a little pre-assembly for this section. Once the glue dries, I’ll clean up the glue, squeeze it out and finish ebonizing the rest of the case.

Before attaching the arches to the wine cubby, I ran a dado down the center; This will give the parts of the rivets that stick out the back of the metal banding a place to go since I want the metal banding flush to the wood.
This was kind of an awkward glue-up. There weren’t a lot of places to reference a square level line from, and my test fit revealed that the top panel was a little wide at the top, so I needed to scribe it in, which meant several more test fits as I dialed in the fit.

Now that I had the base dialed in, I didn’t want to risk tweaking the arches out of shape by doing the floating tenons the traditional way, So I set my mortise cutter to plunge as deep of a mortise as I could through the arch side and into the cross support.

While the glue was drying, I sandblasted the steel frame to clean off all the mill scale and sprayed it down with a blackening agent to turn the steel a dark rusty black color. To give it an aged greasy well used, just rolled out of the mine look.

We are down to the final assembly of the pieces. To be sure the steel band stayed tight to the wood, I used a high strength epoxy to glue the wood to the steel band. With the steel being etched with the blackening agent, the epoxy held really well.
Next up was to attach the support piece to the frame. I dipped some bolts in the acid solution to remove the chrome before using them to bolt the frame to the support piece.
I dropped the arches and wine cubby assembly into the base and drilled the holes to attach them to the support pieces.
Then I tack Welded the frame that is going to hold the bar top in place.
I did the final milling for the bar top and got it all glued up. Once it was dry, I cut a dado around the perimeter so it would clear the back of the rivets I had welded to the frame earlier.
I measured the base of several different wine glasses, and of course, I got some weird looks in the store that there is a guy with an angle finder and tape measure sitting in the middle of the aisle surrounded by glasses, but hey, you do what you got to do.
Once I knew what angle would accommodate the largest variety of wine glasses, I tipped the table saw blade to that angle and ripped some support strips.
I ebonize and prefinished those parts, and when dry, I used a few wine glasses to be sure I had the proper spacing and screwed them to the underside of the top.
These little plastic spacers are to prevent someone from putting too many glasses in one slot and pushing one out the back.
The final thing to do was to stage it for some photos.

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: