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A hand cart, sometimes spelled handcart, is defined in the fourth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary as, "A small, usually two-wheeled cart pulled or pushed by hand." This could apply both to tools commonly referred to as dollies or hand trucks, as well as mail carts and even tiered carts. While at first it may seem confusing, given all the types of hand cars available, choosing the best hand cart depends mainly on its typical use.
One of the most common hand cart varieties is the dolly or hand truck. These tools stand vertically with two wheels on each side at the bottom. A lip on the front side goes under the item to be transported. Then the hand truck and the item are gently leaned back onto the wheels and moved. A variation of this is the drum truck, which instead of having a front lip, has two prongs on each side and a movable clip near the top of the truck. The prongs are worked under the drum and the clip placed on top of it. It is then moved like any other item would be.
Another common type of hand truck is the appliance truck. These are generally somewhat wider and sturdier than typical hand trucks. They will typically have a strap as well, which goes around the appliance and helps to lean it back onto the cart. In some cases, especially for those who are not used to dealing with a hand cart, it may take two people to move an appliance, one operating the cart and the other steadying and helping to support the appliance.
Some hand trucks are convertible, coming with four wheels to give the option of two-wheeled, or four-wheeled use. The handle comes out and the hand truck is then laid down on four wheels. When all four wheels are on the ground, it looks like a normal, albeit slender, hand cart. This may be the best hand cart choice for those who may need one for a wide variety of purposes.
Some hand carts that normally use four wheels include mail carts, computer carts and various types of platform carts. Even the common grocery cart is a type of four-wheeled hand cart. Some, with multiple tiers, have special uses and allow for storage of many different things. For example, the bottom tier of a computer cart may house the CPU, while the upper tier may support the monitor.
In most cases, the varieties of hand carts mentioned will come in industrial strength options as well. This option, while more expensive, should be chosen for those who plan to move heavy pieces or who will be doing a lot of work with the tool. Also, pay attention to the weight ratings for a hand cart. While it may be possible for one to handle more than the weight they are rated for, this is not recommended and would likely void any warranties.