As the name suggests, a studio cart (a.k.a video cart or tethering cart) is a cart for your studio. Duh. As your studio grows and you need to move things around, a studio cart can really help your workflow. Obviously, it can help when you move things around. But there are more benefits. For example, you can mount a laptop, a camera, or a monitor on the cart, making it a portable shooting setup.
The only issue is that those film carts don’t come cheap. Even the most basic cart from brands like Inovativ or Proaim can set you back a good amount. And to be honest, those are incredible carts with lots of features. For example, they fold down for travel and have a massive set of wheels. But for studio use, where you don’t really need to break anything down or have massive wheels, you can save quite a bit, while having a super-sturdy, super-functional cart.
DIY studio cart – our approach
I wanted my cart to serve several functions. First, the obvious, it needs to be on wheels and move my gear from one spot to another. But this is not all. I also wanted it to:
- Have its power socket, so there is only one cable going out
- Have a laptop mount for tethering or for when I need a laptop
- Have all the cables and accessories I need easily accessible
- And most importantly, it needs a cup holder.
And as with many things, we headed to IKEA to see what they had in store. We found a cart that is perfect for our needs – the Bror. First, it has wheels. It is also a metal construction rather than aluminum, which makes it more sturdy (albeit a bit heavier. We don’t care bout weight, though). It has a “standard” working size of 33.5x 21.625 inches (85×55 cm) with a wooden top. Lastly, it has two shelves that I can use for putting things on. It’s a perfect choice.
To get access to all my cables, utilities, and doodads, I added a Skadis pegboard. I thought I could use those to secure cables, power options, drives, and more. All and all, I like this system. It was built as a wall storage system, so it has some cable management options, many attachment points, and a ton of accessories.
The final touch was adding a Tether Tools Aero table for a laptop. I’ll talk about mounting it and powering the laptop in a bit.
DIY studio cart: The build and accessories
Building a video cart depends on your needs, so this is tailored to my needs. Of course, your cart may share the same (or different) basis, but you can gear it toward your specific workflow. I also learned that building a cart that fits my needs is more of a process than a touch-and-go. I can already see how the cart is (and will) evolve for the next version. But even this basic version is more than enough for my day-to-day use. I would love to hear in the comments if you have some ideas or a cart you built.
We chose the IKEA Bror for several reasons. Firstly, it had wheels and shelves, but also, unlike many other carts, it has a solid steel build. According to IKEA, it can handle loads of up to 70 kg per shelve. Good enough for us. The Bror is designed as an indoor cart, which is ok for me, as it will only be traveling between rooms.
The only caveat was the wooden color of the top. But this was rectified quickly with two coats of black paint. That gave me one worktop plus two bottom shelves 85×55 cm each—more than enough for any gear I need.
Mounting a laptop
The next step was to mount a laptop table. I opted for the Tether Tools Aero table for the design and low profile. Sadly, being an IKEA cart and not a film cart, I did not have any mounting points. That was fixed by drilling another hole in the Bror’s frame, and using cable fasteners to mount a core of a light stand. Then the light stand went on the top of the stand. There is a knob to remove the table, and I can always store it on one of the shelves or the pegboard.
Accessories, mountability, access
Since the cart will be moving, I wanted to have most of the things I use easily accessible. The easiest way I found was to use a Skadis pegboard. This is a system from IKEA that has many IKEA accessories available. Specifically, they have cable management solutions and many ways to attach anything you need to the pegboard. Specifically, I used the Skadis connectors to mount the pegboard on the cart (I may move to zip ties later), the Elastic Cords for mounting things like the power bank, and UPPSPEL kit for cable management. Lastly, I used some hooks for good measures.
This pegboard is quickly becoming my favorite feature of the cart. It keeps any cable or accessory I may need right there on my side.
Both the elastic cables and the UPPSPEL kit are great for securing things of irregular shapes. I used them to secure the power bank, cords, power strips, and many other things.
The hooks are good for things like headphones. I will also pick up a few of these hooks on my next trip to IKEA.
The last feature of the cart is to be as power-independent as possible. Any appliance on the cart can get its power from a power strip at the bottom of the cart. This means that there is only one cable going out. But many times, I don’t even want that single cable. This is why I power my laptop with a Tether Tools 100W PD bank. I use my Delta Ecoflow big bad battery if I need even more power. Though, to be honest, if I need that much power, I will usually go to the wall socket.
All and all I am very happy with this studio cart. If you are thinking of anything that can make a shooter’s life easier, let me know if the comments. With that, stay tuned, as we will probably have a V2 coming at a point.