How to Make a Simple Go Kart

Updated February 21, 2017

Simplified go-karts, at one time known as soapbox racers, were made from common household materials and used the driver's feet as a means of propulsion, a far cry from the motorised karts of today. The practice of making simple go-karts is still an undertaking many people engage in, whether to make a simple racer for some backyard fun or for some friendly competition. Making a simple go-kart can be a fun afternoon project.

Jot some basic ideas for your go-kart. Keeping with the simple theme, draw your go-kart with a rectangular, box-shaped body. Draw the kart from side and overhead angles, and add wheel placement, a hole in the floorboard for your feet and any designs you want to paint onto the body. Write down the scale length, height and width dimensions.

Measure the length of your kart on a sheet of plywood. This will be the floorboard. Saw the wood to length if you are not using pre-cut wood. Measure about a quarter way from one side, and cut out a small rectangular section that measures roughly one-half the width of the board; mark this plywood sheet "floorboard" and set aside.

Measure and cut a sheet the same dimensions as the floorboard. Measure about halfway into the sheet, draw a vertical line that divides the sheet in half, and saw it. Mark one half "top" and the other half "nose". Measure and cut two sheets to be the kart's sides according to your blueprints. Sand all the rough edges from wood components.

Measure about a foot from each end of each side piece, and cut two holes--one near the front and one near the rear--that match the diameter of the wooden rods. Place the floorboard on the ground, and screw each side to the floorboard to make a basic box. Screw on the "nose" to the front of the box, then screw on the "top" over the tops of the front of the side pieces.

Measure and cut a final plywood piece to finish the back of the kart if desired. You now have the finished body. Insert a wooden rod into each hole you cut in the sides to make axles. Measure and cut four plywood circles to be the wheels. Sand the edges of each wheel until it is smooth. Cut a hole in the centre of each wheel, and place the wheels onto the exposed ends of the axles.

Screw two screws completely through each axel on either side of the wheel, one in the front of the wheel and another behind it, to create pins that hold the wheel in place. Paint, stain or clear coat your go-kart, and allow ample time to dry. Place small pillows or couch cushions onto the floorboard to create comfortable seating.


Mission Museum recommends keeping the total weight of the go-kart to 113 Kilogram or less, including the rider's weight, when working with wood materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Scratch paper
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Hand saw
  • Rough grit sandpaper
  • Electric drill/screwdriver
  • Box of wood screws
  • Paint, stain or clear coat
  • Plywood
  • Wooden rods (length depends on size of go-kart)
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