Wheelbarrow Project

We have both wanted an old wooden wheelbarrow for a yard ornament, but could not find one anywhere. So we decided it would be necessary to build one. We purchased a steel wheel from a junk dealer while in South Dakota, he told it was from a wood wheel barrow. Not knowing what one actually looked like we began our search for examples to copy. Naturally when we need information we turned to the Internet to find pictures and plans for this item. You know how they always say that you can find anything on the Internet? Well, NOT SO."

We searched high and low and found thousands of hits on the term wheelbarrow, but not a single page gave plans or specifications for what we wanted. Sandy did have several gardening books with illustrations of authentic as well reproduction wheelbarrows. But no plans or dimensions and the pictures lacked a lot of detail. We did get a chance to see an authentic wood wheelbarrow in a gift show so Dan took a few minutes to note the construction details and then it was off to the shop.

The image above shows our version of a wood wheelbarrow. Dan made all the frame components from oak dunnage, which are rough cut oak 4 X 4's that come with conduit shipments at Crescent Electric. The oak was jointed smooth and squared up and then ripped to size. Most of the pieces had been lying around for at least a year so they had seasoned enough to make machining possible.

The floor and sides are made from pine sheathing removed from the old house during the remodel. This sheathing is about 70 years old and no attempts were made to cover the nail holes or blemishes. All the edges of the wood were rounded and then roughed up a bit to make the final product looked used and worn. All the screws were plain steel saved from years ago.

The front of the box portion consists of an oak frame with a pine panel set in a dado. Note the tongue joint above, the original we looked at had a round mortise and tenon joint. This joint was easier to produce with the poor quality oak used in the construction. The sides are removable and are fit into slots on the front and bottom.

The image above shows the detail of the front support rods that were manufactured using soft steel rod stock, heated in the wood stove, and hammered to shape on an old section of rail road track. The final images shows the detail of the hand carved handles, which match the one we saw in the gift shop. The pictures we have seen show these as simple round handles on a rectangular frame member, but we thought this was more stylish.