How to build a wooden go-cart

Written by isobel washington
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Go-karts are loads of fun for kids (and even adults!), and a simple wooden go-kart isn't too difficult to assemble once you've acquired the right materials. Finding the wheels and axles is the most challenging step, as the search requires some creativity. Look for old prams or tricycles, or search online. Once the wheels and axles are obtained, learn how to build a wooden go-kart by following the steps below.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Two fixed axles with wheels attached
  • Wooden plank, 3/4-inch pine
  • Axle wood--length will depend on your axles. This example uses a 3 1/2-inch x 1 1/2- inch plank
  • Rope for the handle
  • Two eye screws to attach the rope
  • Four electrician's metal "saddles" (see explanation in Step 3)
  • Paint or varnish
  • 1 1/2-inch screws
  • Two steering bolts (see explanation in Step 5)

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    Steps for Building a Wooden Go-Cart

  1. 1

    Cut wood for the axles and the central plank. The lengths will vary by project, but in this example the cut is 17 inches for the axle wood, and 3 feet 9 inches for the long central plank.

  2. 2

    Sand and paint or varnish the wood pieces. This part can be creative and fun! Allow the wood to dry.

  3. 3

    Attach each axle to the shorter plank. Electrical saddles are small U-shaped devices sold for less than a dollar in any electrical shop. Use two or three for each axle, depending on size and weight. Screw them in with the 1 1/2-inch screws.

  4. 4

    Attach the long plank on both ends to the two axles. Make sure the overhang on each side is exactly the same. Use a clamp to hold the pieces together.

  5. 5

    Add the steering mechanism. It is important to find a bolt that is only partially threaded, so that a nut can be tightened on the bolt yet the bolt can still turn freely in the hole. Ask anyone in a hardware store, describing the purpose, and you'll easily acquire the necessary bolts. Measure distance so that the bolt is centred both on the front and rear, so that the go-kart doesn't pivot toward one side or another on its own. Secure the rope to both ends of the front axle using a bowline knot on each end. (The great thing about this design is that the feet are placed on the steering bar, and the ropes are held, making the go-kart manoeuvrable.)

  6. 6

    Go, go, go! With the basic go-kart structure complete, you're free to embellish it. Add a seat using foam, vinyl, and upholstery tacks. Use acrylic paint to add illustrations or patterns on the main plank.

    How to build a wooden go-cart

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure there is enough space to place your feet between the long plank and the wheels, since this is part of the steering mechanism.
  • Thriftshops, recycling centres, dumps, and junkyards are great places to find useful items for go-kart building, like wheels and axles from old bikes and prams. You can also look in these places for a steering wheel to add to your simple wooden go-kart later.
  • Carpet stores often will give you extra carpet pieces and vinyl samples for free.

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