Tackle your to-do list with this easy-to-store cart that doubles as a handy workbench. When it's party time, load the foldout wings with food and drinks.
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Cut the MDF top and shelves (C, F) to size. Measure the width and depth of each shelf, add 1/2-in to each dimension, and cut the oversize laminate sheets.
Apply contact cement to the back of the laminate and the tops of the MDF shelves according to the manufacturer's instructions and let stand while the surfaces become tacky. Lay a row of 1/2-in wood dowels about 10-in apart on the MDF and rest the laminate on the dowels while you line it up over the MDF edges. (It doesn't need to be perfect.)
When the laminate overlaps all of the edges, gently remove a middle dowel to allow the laminate to touch the adhesive on the MDF and press down gently to lock the laminate in position. (Contact cement sticks to itself when tacky, but not to the dowels.) Continue removing dowels from the center to one edge, pressing the laminate down with your hands as you go. Repeat in the opposite direction. When all the dowels are removed, use the J-roller to bond the laminate to the MDF.
Using a router with a laminate-trimming bit, trim the laminate flush with the MDF edges. Wrap a wood block with 180-grit sandpaper and lightly sand the MDF and laminate edges. Repeat for the remaining shelves. You can wipe off any excess cement using a cloth moistened with Xylene.
Cut the 3/4-in x 3-1/2-in top ends (B) and the 3/4-in x 2-1/2-in middle and bottom shelf ends (E) to fit the laminated MDF panels (C, F). With the laminate side of the shelf panels facing down, glue and clamp the shelf ends to the three shelf panels (Cart Top and Middle and Bottom Shelf Drawings). After the glue dries, drill countersunk 1/8-in pilot holes and drive 1-1/2-in screws to reinforce the glue joint.
Cut the 3/4-in x 3-1/2-in top shelf sides (A) and middle/bottom shelf sides (D) to length. Turn the middle and bottom shelves right side up and glue the sides to the panels (F) and ends (E) with all the bottom edges flush. After the glue dries, drill countersunk 1/8-in holes and drive screws to reinforce the joint. Repeat for the top shelf (A, B, C). (Note that the top shelf sides are flush with the laminated shelf surface).
You could cut all the shelf sides while you're cutting the ends, but there's always the chance some may be too long or short. By cutting parts to fit the laminated shelf dimensions, you reduce the possibility of gaps.
On the bottom shelf, glue and screw the caster supports (G) to the underside of the panel (F), the shelf ends, (E) and shelf sides (D). (Each support will hold two casters.)
For each fold-down wing (Wing Shelf Drawing), cut the ends (H) to fit the wing panel (J). Glue and clamp the ends to the panel and let dry. Cut the wing sides (I) to size; glue and clamp the sides to the ends and the panel. Drill 1/8-in countersunk pilot holes and drive reinforcing screws.
Cut the wing dowel supports (K) to fit between the wing sides (I). Then drill, glue, and screw the supports to the sides (I). Center a mounting plate on the support and screw it in place. Repeat for the other wing.
Cut six legs (L) to length. Lay the bottom shelf (D-G) on a flat work surface with the laminate side up and clamp two legs in place against the shelf sides (D). Use a carpenter's square to check the legs for plumb and drill countersunk 7/64-in pilot holes. Then glue and screw the legs in place (Serving Cart and Workbench Project Diagram, Assembling Legs). Repeat for the remaining legs.
Why two different pilot hole sizes for the same size screws? You need 1/8-in pilot holes in MDF to keep the screws from splitting the sheets. For the soft pine, though, you can go a bit smaller to give the screw threads a tighter grip on the wood.
Cut four scrapwood spacers 12-in long and rest them against the inside faces of the four corner legs with the bottom ends on the shelf sides (D). Lower the middle shelf onto the spacers and use clamps to hold it in place while you drill countersunk pilot holes. Then glue, clamp, and screw the middle shelf to the six legs.
Note that the middle legs on each side are off-center along the sides of the cart to accommodate the wings you'll install later.
Place the top shelf (A/B/C) upside down on a work surface and drop the legs (L) into the shelf. Clamp one leg to a top shelf side (A) and drill countersunk pilot holes from the inside. (Drill carefully to avoid poking through the outside faces of the shelf sides.) Screw the leg to the shelf side and repeat for the remaining five legs.
Cut the bottom aprons (M) to length, and sand the faces and edges smooth. Mask off the leg (L) locations on the inside faces of the aprons and paint the remaining area on that surface. We used exterior semigloss paint in Twilight Jungle (#3007-9A). Then mask and paint the sections of the legs (K) where the aprons will be installed, along with the outside faces of the bottom shelf sides (D). Drill countersunk pilot holes, then glue and screw the aprons to the legs and let dry.
Cut the dowel legs (N) to length and smooth with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper. Drill one end of each dowel leg (L) to accept a table-leg hanger bolt; drill the other ends for leg leveler T-nuts. Then add the hardware to both dowel legs.
Use wood putty to fill the screw holes and let dry. Sand the shelf sides, ends, and legs with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper; wipe clean with a soft cloth. Mask the laminate surfaces and panel undersides with painter's tape, apply a coat of primer to the pine surfaces. Let dry and lightly sand them smooth. Then apply two coats of paint and let dry overnight.
Cut a 30-in continuous hinge to 24-in long. Center the hinge along an end of one wing (H) and clamp it in position so the round part, or barrel, of the hinge hangs halfway over the edge of the wood. Drill 1/16-in pilot holes and drive the mounting screws that come with the hinge. Then press the end of the wing against the top shelf end and drive screws along the other half of the hinge. Repeat for the other wing.
Place a swivel caster on one end of a caster support (G) and mark the screw locations. Drill pilot holes and screw the caster in place. Repeat for the remaining three casters, pairing the locking swivel casters at one end.