So I was talking with my Dad the other day about building out a bed and gear storage in my truck bed for camping and I couldn’t stop thinking about it - so I did it. Here’s what I did:
1. Start // Here’s the truck bed when I got started. Empty and boring.
2. Frame // I built a simple frame that slides easily in and out (in case I ever need to take it out to haul stuff). The sides are 1 x 10s (6 feet long, which is the length of the bed). There are five braces built from 2 x 4s. Four on the top (spaced equally from the ends) and one on the bottom in the back (near the cab) to keep the sides from buckling in at the bottom. I cut the braces long enough so that the whole frame fit in between the wheel wells nicely, and the 1 x 10s rest in the tracks of the bedliner, keeping it all in one place. I screwed this all together with 3 inch deck screws.
3. Deck // The deck is built from two pieces of plywood. The one in the back is 3 feet 6 inches long by 4 feet wide. The sides of the back piece overhang the edges of the wood frame, but rest on the wheel wells, adding extra support and width. Also, in the back two corners, I have some cubby holes to stash stuff in while I’m camping. The front piece of decking is 2 feet 6 inches long by however wide the wood frame is. I didn’t want the front piece to overhang the edges of the wood frame because I didn’t have the added support of the wheel wells and I wanted to save space on each side for my water jug on the left and anything else on the right (shoes, clothes, etc.). I screwed the decking to the frame with 1 and 1/8th inch drywall screws because that’s what I had. Note: I had to add another 2 x 4 brace to the top of the frame where the two plywood pieces came together to screw to and add extra support on the plywood joint.
4. Drawer // After the decking was complete, I built a 4 foot long drawer out of 1/2 inch plywood to hold all my camping gear. I cut the sides and back pieces at 7 inches tall to allow it to slide easily after the plywood bottom was installed. Then I cut the bottom piece at 4 feet long and the width to match the width of the frame, with about a half inch of wiggle room on each side so it would slide easily. Then I cut the front piece to match the size of the end of the frame, all the way to the edges so it looked finished. I screwed the whole thing together with the same 1 and 1/8th inch drywall screws that I used on the decking. After the face of the drawer was installed I drilled two half inch holes and made a rope handle to pull the drawer with. The whole thing slides really nicely on the bedliner without any drawer guides or anything, even full of gear.
5. Carpet // I called a buddy of mine in the construction business and asked him to call some of his carpet suppliers to see if they had a free scrap of commercial grade carpet I could have for free. He called me back 10 minutes later and gave me an address. I picked it up, took it home, vacuumed it, and threw it in the truck. I was going to staple it down but our staple gun only had two staples in it. So I found some old roofing nails in my basement and used those, then I cut the excess off with a razor knife.
6. Lock // Now that I have basically all my camping gear in the truck at all times, I felt like I needed a little extra security. To lock the drawer, I cut a slot out of the top of the face panel on the drawer and put an eye-bolt on a washer in the 2 x 4 on the front of the frame so that the head of the eye-bolt fits into the slot when the drawer is closed, then I slapped a lock on it (see above and below). Obviously, this will not deter the most heinous of criminals, but it will keep an honest man honest.
I should note that so far I’ve spent a grand total of $1.03 on this project. I had all the wood in my basement except the two 1 x 10s, which a buddy of mine picked up for me at Lowe’s and said he had drank more than enough of my beers in the past year to make up for the cost (they would have run me $7 each). The carpet was free. I already had the nails, screws, and rope. I spent 65 cents on the eye-bolt and 30 cents on the washer (plus tax).
The next step is to try to find a 4 inch slab of foam at an upholstery shop to use as a mattress. Hopefully I can talk my wife into sewing a fabric cover for it to finish it all out.