The MFSC or “multi function shop cart”, is a cart that performs several functions and which is designed to assist woodworkers all along the construction of a piece of furniture, from the first to the last step.
The MFSC in “wheel cart” mode
While working in my workshop I encountered several problems that were slowing me down or causing frustrations, such as the need for a cart to move around parts from tool to tool, the need for a height adjustable assembly table, the occasional need for additional work benches or the need for drying racks. For most of these problems there are commercial solutions, but these are costly and would have filled my work shop while only being used periodically.
The MFSC can still be used as a traditional multi-function work bench
So about 3 years ago in 2014 I had the idea to design a single cart that would solve as much of these problems as possible, it had to be a work bench, a wheel cart, a rack and adjustable in height. As soon as I started drawing a prototype, it became clear that combining these apparent simple functions in a solid and reliable manner, would be extremely complicated as nobody had ever done this. I went through numerous different designs and approaches, but always encountered technical problems or unacceptable compromises.
Showing the different clamping options
This project stayed in the back of my head for years, and I noted down and tested each new idea that came up, but it was only in the summer of 2017 that I found a way to solve a major issue that was blocking all progress, mainly the side arm design.
From then on things speeded up, I built a prototype before having finished the design of the lift mechanism. Many other problems showed up, mainly finding a way to operate the lift mechanism easily, and taking away play. This took a few more weeks to solve, but eventually every problem was solved and I built 2 final models straight away in august 2017 for myself, and have been using them since.
Showing the MFSC used as a cart to move work pieces from tool to tool around the shop
Before having the MFSC I used some kind of shopping cart with paint buckets on it and a plywood panel to move around parts in my shop, which can be seen in my previous videos. I could have obviously built a dedicated cart for this, but also drying racks, additional work tables, an adjustable assembly table or a panel cart. All these designs exist and can be made/bought. But in my production oriented shop I would have needed two of each to be really useful, that would have cost a fortune and I didn’t have the room any way because then we’re talking about at least 10 different carts/workbenches.
I drew in sketchup all the other tools this replaces, my shop is generously dimensioned but there is no way I could afford to lose this amount of space, especially knowing that I have two of each in my MFSC’s.
But as you never really need all these functions simultaneously I thought of designing a single cart that would assist me all along the production of furniture, from ripping the rough parts to the application of the finish. Transforming along the way to adapt to the different needs.
MFSC in panel cart mode
Above you can see the MFSC used to hold panels at the table saw, previously I had nothing for this purpose and in my previous videos you can see how I would basically throw all the parts flat on the floor as I was cutting them. That was far from ideal as it could damage the parts, throw up dust and then had to be picked up again and carried around by hand.
Above you can see the MFSC used to transport parts from the saw to the shaper, no time is lost with doing several trips and trying to balance them against a wall next to the shaper.
MFSC in lowered work bench mode
Above you can see it being used as a adjustable height work bench, so that I can work at a comfortable height. In the past I would do this either high up on my assembly table, or on the floor. It can be lifted from 62cm to 90cm height in increments of 30mm. (24,4 inches to 35,4)
The MFSC being used as an assembly table
One of the major features for me is the ability to do assembly work on it at an adjustable height, gone the days of working on your knees. This was really missing from my work shop as I either had the floor or the top of my assembly table, nothing in between. But again an adjustable assembly table is something all woodworkers need, but only during a specific stage of the fabrication. Most of the time it would just sit in the way.
MFSC used as a clamping/gluing table
The MFSC was a great opportunity to incorporate a feature I thought of when using my Bessey KRV clamps with the little support blocs that hold them upright. I thought of building a table with similar notches that would hold the clamps, but again, a table that does only that would be a waste of space most of the time. Here I decided to incorporate this into the flip side of the MFSC, up to then I would like most woodworkers do my clamping work on top of my main work bench. This creates several problems, the first is that it renders the work bench useless as long as the glue hasn’t dried, and second, the glue would drip on my work bench and create a mess.
Doing this on the flip side of my MFSC’s solves this, I can do twice as many glue ups and still keep my main work bench free, I can roll them away and let it dry much longer while keeping the work space free. Also glue drippings don’t matter any more as they fall on the under side of the work top.
MFSC used as (drying) racks
Initially I wanted to insert sticks directly into the table to use use it as a rack, but that would have made it too limited in capacity, so I designed these perforated stiles that lock onto the table and can be spaced randomly, they also store inside the MFSC along with the sticks.
Again this is something every woodworker needs at a particular moment during the fabrication, before I had these I would just place all these parts on all my worktops and on the floor. I would plan these operations for the end of the day because the work shop couldn’t be used for at least 10 hours after. I could have bought/made similar racks but just look at the space they take.
How it works
Below you can see the internals, I had to design this mechanism from scratch so that it was fully automatic, simple and reliable. First prototypes required strings or intricate levers to make this work, but they just weren’t practical or reliable. Coming up with this wasn’t easy, but I’m very happy with the result, I have been using my two MFSC’s daily for 3 months now and there was not a single hiccup.
I built my MFSC’s for my needs, but the concept can easily be adapted to different needs, one side of the table could be a cutting table, sanding table, down draft table, saw/router table, welding table,etc… the possibilities are virtually endless. The bottom could even be adapted to house drawers instead of the panel cart function.
Below you can see how I used my MFSC carts when I was building two pieces of furniture.
Here is a list of tools that I used to build this project, some are required (R) and other are optional (O) you need the Required tools but you can build it without the Optional tools, they just make it easier.
- router R
- table saw or circular saw R
- drill R
- jig saw R
- domino (700 and 500) O
- X-carve CNC O
- shaper O
- drill press O
- jointer planer O
I made plans of this project so that anyone can build them, plans are available in English metric, English USA*, French metric (Français) and German metric (Deutsch).
For the US market I made an English version where I used imperial sheet goods, note however that the plan is still in metric dimensions, but made with sheet goods in imperial thickness.
The plans contain a 30+ page long manual with pictures of every step, a material list, a cut list, the 3d sketchup model and print out templates.
It’s thanks to the support of people buying my previous plans that I was able to spend time and money to develop such a complex project.
I used a thread cutting jig to make the knobs, these knobs are solid and have thick threads, meaning that they require fewer turns to be tightened. However I still added instructions on how to make these with standard steel wood-bolts.