How to Turn a Utility Cart Into a Patio Grill Station

Learn how to trick out a metal cart with a wood top, magnetic hooks and baskets so it can be used as a portable outdoor kitchen island or bar.

DIY Portable Grill Station
Loading Video...

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Tools and Materials

  • metal utility cart
  • (2) 1x6 x 8' redwood or cedar for the tabletop
  • (1) 1x2 x 8' redwood or cedar for underside of the tabletop lip
  • magnetic hooks
  • magnetic towel bar
  • metal hanging basket
  • polyurethane
  • paintbrush
  • (2) 2" gate hinges
  • drill
  • nail gun
  • 1" finish nails
  • circular saw
  • measuring tape
  • speed square
  • sanding block
  • optional: shelf liner

Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Time: 1/2 day
Estimated Cost: $200

Step 1: Measure for Tabletop

Determine the size of the cart’s wood top. For our tabletop, we cut 1x6s into four 32-1/4” pieces. This length will overlap the top of the cart on three sides; we don’t want an overhang on the side of the cart with the handle.

Step 2: Lay Out Lip Pieces

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Add a lip made of 1x2s to the underside of the 1x6s to secure them together, and to hold the tabletop in place when it sits on the cart. To ensure the lip boards are in the right place, use a speed square to line up the 1x6s and make a mark on the underside 1-1/4” from the edge on three sides. (The handle side will be addressed later in this step.) This lip will sit on the outside edge of the cart wall. The two 1x2 pieces for the longer sides will measure 31”. The two end pieces will measure 16-1/8” and 12-3/8”. The shorter board is the handle side of the cart and will fit inside the edge of the cart wall. This board will be inset from the edge 1/2”. In the center of the top, add a 1x6 across the boards leaving a small gap for the cart edge to clear.

Step 3: Fasten Lip Pieces to Tabletop

Secure the 1x2s to the 1x6s using 1” finish nails. Make sure not to put nails in the center because you will be cutting the tabletop in half. Mark the center point of the short side of the tabletop on the lip pieces. Set up the tabletop so it is raised and then use a circular saw to cut the top in half.

Step 4: Sand and Apply a Sealer

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Use a sanding block to smooth any rough edges. Apply exterior-grade urethane to seal the tabletop. Be sure to seal all sides of the wood to help prevent the wood from warping. Let dry.

Step 5: Attach Hinges

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Add two hinges to the outside top edges. The hinges will allow access for additional storage underneath the work surface.

Step 6: Place Tabletop

After hinges are in place, set the top onto the cart.

Step 7: Accessorize

Photo by: Gary Payne

Gary Payne

Attach magnetic hooks, magnetic towel bar(s) and baskets for additional storage of grill tools, towels and condiments. Optionally, you can lay a liner on the shelves of the cart.

Next Up

How to Refurbish a Charcoal Grill

Your charcoal grill takes a beating from the elements and from the ash and grease that build up over time. If your grill (or the one your neighbor threw away) has seen better days, learn how to clean and recondition it so you can get barbecuing again.

How to Budget for an Outdoor Kitchen

Creating a complete outdoor cooking space can be expensive, but you can still put together a great outdoor kitchen without spending a fortune. Learn how to find a balance between what you want and what you can afford.

How to Use a Dishwasher

Get tips for loading dishes and flatware, choosing the right detergent and selecting the best wash cycle.

The Best Grilling Accessories and Tools for Outdoor Barbecues

Be the grill master you were meant to be with these barbecuing essentials, from handy multi-tools to burger-perfecting grill presses.

How to Remove a Dishwasher

Removing your dishwasher doesn't need to be left to the pros. Follow our steps to get the dishwasher out yourself in no time.

How to Remove a Garbage Disposal

Removing a garbage disposal may seem intimidating, but it's a deceptively easy DIY job.

How to Clean an Air Fryer

Maintain your small kitchen appliance easily with these tips for removing baked-on food and residual grease.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker With Vinegar

Follow these simple steps for cleaning an auto-drip coffee maker with vinegar for a germ-free home brewer and a fresh tasting cup of joe.

How to Plan and Build an Outdoor Kitchen

Aesthetics are important but when it comes to building an outdoor kitchen, functionality and durability reign supreme. Read our professional tips to budget, plan and design an outdoor kitchen that will add value to your home and lifestyle.

How to Build a Grilling Island

Create an outdoor kitchen by nestling a gas grill into a custom-built, granite-topped island.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.