Build a Firewood Caddy

Create a no-fuss, no-mess way to transport logs from woodpile to hearth.

When it comes to creating a warm, romantic atmosphere in your home, nothing can match a crackling fire. Unfortunately, that ambience also entails a lot of work and mess. The romance may be over by the time you haul the logs in from the woodpile and clean up the debris that you dropped along the way.

That’s where this simple-to-build log caddy saves the day. It lets you easily transport more than enough firewood for an entire evening and prevents dirt and bark from falling on the floor. Best of all, it looks great sitting next to any style of fireplace. For about $40 in metal, $30 in hardware and eight hours worth of effort, you can create an eye-catching and functional addition to your hearth that will spark envy in everyone who gathers ’round the fire.

Cutting and milling
Start by cutting the 1-in.-sq. hollow tube it to length as specified in the cutting list (below). A metal cutoff saw, an angle grinder outfitted with a cutoff wheel, a jigsaw equipped with a metal-cutting blade or even a hacksaw will work, but I opted to use a metal-cutting plunge saw (photo 1) because it creates no flying sparks and leaves the cuts ready for welding. (Note: The drawing above indicates where you’ll need to cut the tube ends to 45 degrees to produce miter joints.)


Cut the metal to length as indicated in the cutting list. Depending on the device you use, carefully consider where sparks could fly (and potentially start a fire) during the cutting process.

Drill holes into (but not through) the square tube for the placement of the 5/16-in.-dia. solid rod. The side base members (A) will each need two holes centered and equally spaced through their inside faces (see drawing). For both of the rear uprights (D), drill holes located 28 in. up from their mitered ends, and for the front uprights (C), locate the holes 16 in. up from the mitered ends.

Lastly, drill a centered 1/2-in.-dia. hole, 1 in. from the top ends, through both the rear and front uprights for later mounting of the 7/8-in.-dia. dowel handles. If you use a hand drill rather than a drill press for this process, mark and drill the opposing faces of each upright separately to ensure that the holes are perpendicular to the stock.

To make the base-support rods (F), the front-support rod (G) and the rear-support rod (H), cut three 18-in. lengths and one 24-in. length of 5/16-in.-dia. solid rod. The longer section will become the curved rear-support rod, and the extra length will make it easier to bend.

To create the curve in the rear-support rod, start by marking its center; then find a solid, stable post (such as a fence post or some other large, round upright) that will function as a bending form. Center the support rod on the bending form, grasp it firmly in both hands and gently pull until you’ve created a mild curve in the rod (photo 2). The exact radius of the curve isn’t important – just don’t make it too sharp or exaggerated. Then, starting at the center point of the curved rod, measure 9 in. to each side (photo 3) and cut away the excess so that you’re left with an overall length of 18 in.


Use a solid, stable large-diameter post to act as a form while you bend the rear-support rod to shape. I used the upright on my floor-mounted drill press, but any stable round post will work.


Measure 9 in. to each side of the rear-support rod’s center point. Cut away any excess length.

Next, make the axle-support gussets (I). Securely clamp the 2-in.-wide flat stock to a stable work surface and use a jigsaw outfitted with a metal-cutting blade to cut it to length. I found it easier to first trim the gussets to length and then miter the ends 45 degrees rather than trying to perform both steps in one cut.

You’ll create the curved front skids (E) using the same method as for the rear-support rod. Cut the 1-in. flat stock to a workable length (allowing for extra to use during the bending process) and mark the center point. Gently bend the stock around a curved form until the stock ends are no more than 6 in. apart (photo 4); then measure 6 in. from the center point and cut off the excess.


When forming the curved front skids, it’s important to bend the flat stock so that the sides are no more than 8 in. apart.

Welding
To prepare the sides for welding, first lay them out on a flat surface. Use a square to ensure that the handle uprights, the base sections and the front uprights are properly aligned; then weld them in place (photo 5). Because you’ll need smooth, flat work surfaces on which to weld the base members, use an angle grinder to smooth the welds.


On a flat surface, lay out the three parts that make up each of the sides and weld them together. Use a layout square to make sure that the parts are aligned properly.

Next, position and weld the two axle-support gussets and the two curved front skids. Be certain the gussets are flush with the outer faces of their respective sides – otherwise the wheels will not turn properly. Then drill a centered 1/2-in.dia. hole through each gusset for the axle bolts (photo 6).


After welding the axle support gussets in place, drill the 1/4-in.-dia. holes for the axle bolts. A step drill bit will allow you to slowly increase the size of the hole without having to repeatedly change bits.

Use a layout square to check the position of the two end base members; then weld them to the inside face of one of the completed sides (photo 7). Insert the two solid support rods into the holes of the base on the side you’ve been working with, position the other completed side so that it mates flush with the assembly and clamp it in place (photo 8). Once it is secure, check again for square and weld the assembly together.


Use a steel carpenter's square to accurately position the end base members onto one of the completed sides; then weld them in place.


Insert the support rods into one side, align the opposite side and clamp everything together. Check for square and to make sure that racking has not occurred; the weld the two halves of the assembly together.

Use an angle grinder to smooth all of the remaining welds; then fit the front- and rear-support rods into their holes, you’ll need to gently pull apart the sides to allow clearance for the rods to slip into place.

Final assembly
Wipe down the metal framework with mineral spirits to remove any dirt and oil; then coat the framework with your choice of paint; I used Rust-Oleum’s hammered green. In addition, paint the lag screws’ heads the same color as the framework, and if necessary, paint the wheel rims and spokes flat black. Because the wheels I used were plastic, I needed to use a paint that was specially formulated to adhere to plastic – in this case, Krylon Fusion flat black.

Cut the dowel handles, plywood base and plywood back to size as indicated in the cutting list. You’ll need to notch the base to fit around the four corners and around the axle-support gussets (see drawing). When cutting the back, use the curve of the rear-support rod as a template to create a matching curve (photo 9). For durability, I used a clear gloss polyurethane finish on the handles and the plywood sections.


Temporarily clamp the plywood back to the handles, and use the curved rear-support rod as a template to create a matching curve for the back piece.

Once the paint and polyurethane are dry, insert the plastic end caps and bolt and screw the parts together. Drill pilot holes in the dowel handles to make it easier to drive the lag screws. Use panhead sheet-metal screws to fasten the plywood sections to the metal framework and 1/2-in.-dia. x 3-1/2-in. hex-head shoulder bolts to serve as axles.

Because the wheels I used have inner sleeve bearings that stand proud of the wheel hub, I didn’t need any additional washers – just nylon lock nuts to secure the wheels onto the axle bolts. If the wheels you choose don’t have such bearings, use 1/2-in. cut washers to keep the wheels from rubbing and binding against the sides of the cart. All that’s left is to load up the cart with seasoned firewood, light the fire and relax as you enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Materials and Cutting List
Key, No., Description, Size
A, 2, Side base members, 1 x 1 x 24 in.
B, 2, End base members, 1 x 1 x 16 in.
C, 2, Front uprights, 1 x 1 x 22 in.
D, 2, Rear uprights, 1 x 1 x 40 in.
E, 2, Skids, 1-in. flat stock x 20 in.*
F, 2, Base-support rods, 5/16 in. dia. x 18 in.
G, 1, Front-support rod, 5/16 in. dia. x 18 in.
H, 1, Rear-support rod, 5/16 in. dia. x 24 in.*
I, 2, Axle-support gussets, 1-in. flat stock x 9 in.
J, 2, Handles, dowels, 7/8 in. dia. x 16 in.
K, 1, Base, plywood, 3/8 x 18 x 24 in.
L, 1, Back, plywood, 3/8 x 18 x 18 in.
*Approximate; trim to final length after forming

Shopping List
18 lineal feet of 1-in.-sq. hollow tube
2 lineal feet of 2-in. x 1/8-in. flat stock
4 lineal feet of 1-in. x 1/8-in. flat stock
7 lineal feet of 5/16-in.-dia. solid rod
3 lineal feet of 7/8-in.-dia. dowel rod
4x4 sheet of 1/2-in. plywood (1)
1-in. plastic end caps (4)
1/2-in.-dia. x 3-1/2-in. bolts (2)
1/2-in. nylon lock nuts (2)
1/4-in.-dia. x 2-1/2-in. lag screws (4)
No. 10 x 1-in. oval-head Phillips screws (8)
No. 10 finishing washers (8)
20-in.-dia. pneumatic wheels (2)
Rust-Oleum hammered-finish spray paint
Spray paint
Clear gloss polyurethane

Bonus Video: