The Red Dirt Wranglers

Gardening, Permaculture and Homesteading in the South East

Wheelbarrow Resurrection – Broken to Bomber

We needed  a new wheelbarrow and wanted a big one that could carry big loads of woodchips for mulching.  We typically get entire dumptruck loads of woodchips for free from our local tree guy.  He has to pay to dispose of them and we need them for mulching!  Win-win.   Next time you see a tree crew working in your neighborhood, ask them and they will usually drop them off for free.  We will post more about our excessive use of mulch in future posts.

After you have a 10-15 cubic yards of nice fresh wood chips, you’ll need somewhere to put them and someway to move them around.  We have a side-driveway at the highest elevation on our property, so they are always going down hill.

I had about destroyed a wheelbarrow in 2-years with all the masonry work we were doing building stone walls, pizza ovens and patios.  We must have chopped 1000 batches of mud in this poor wheelbarrow and it was about to give up.  We drove down to our local big-box store and saw that they had these fancy two-wheeled wheelbarrows with giant plastic tubs on them.  I thought about it for a while and I really like the two-wheel axle and the whole undercarriage was sturdy but the plastic tub just looked like it would pop off after a few loads.  We had this darn thing for less than 6-months and indeed, the *reinforced* plastic around the four carriage bolts holding the tub onto the base busted out and set the tub skidding down the driveway.

What to do now?  Go buy another one?  (Nah, it’ll break too) Go get another metal wheelbarrow and throw this thing into the landfill?

This is where one needs to engage their internal “redneck-engineer”.

This is the base sans tub

This is the base sans tub

Starting with the base, we had to cut some wedges out of pressure treated 2x12s to get the platform up above the wheels and lag-bolted them to the wood handles using the same holes where the carriage bolts attached the tub.

Base with wedges attached.

Base with wedges attached.

Then we then built a platform with regular pressure treated 2x4s.


Wedges and platform read to build out the walls.

So far we would have had about $10 into this project but I got the lumber at the depot from the “cull-cart” which meant that it was 70% off retail because it was dirty or slightly warped.  Certainly not a problem for this project.  I wanted the base to be sturdy, so now the walls had to be made of something light or this would be 200 lbs and immovable.  We had recently taken down a horizontal wood slat fence recently and carefully removed the 1/2″x6″ pine slats (nice and light) and had them laying around.   With a skill saw and a bucket of 3″ sheetrock screws, the walls went up and here is the final product:


The new reconstructed wheel barrow.

OK, it’s a bit heavy and slightly resembles Noah’s Arc, but you can move some serious woodchips and firewood around with this thing!  My stepbrother calls it the medeivalbarrow.

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