How to Build a Custom Truck-Bed Storage System
Organize the gear in your pick-up, once and for all
Your truck’s bed can do better. No more stomach-sliding acrobatics just to reach gear that’s slid to the front. Be gone those jumbled piles of ratchet straps. End the clutter. And, hey—you can even add a sleeping pad for a comfortable bed on the go.
- Four 4-by-8-foot sheets of ¾-inch plywood
- Construction adhesive
- Two lengths 1-inch square steel tubing
- 40 abec-9 bearings
- 40 T-nuts and bolts
- 80 nuts to match bolts
- 20 angle brackets
- 20 self-tapping screws
- 1 pound 1½-inch deck screws
1. Make the Frame Pieces
Rip two strips of plywood the height of the wheel wells and cut them to the bed length minus 3 inches. Next, rip four strips of plywood 4 inches wide and cut them to the bed width. Some beds are tapered, so measure each piece.
2. Assemble the Frame
Place the two long beams on edge in the bed. Next, lay the support strips flat on top of the frame. One strip should be a foot from the tailgate, another as close to the cab as possible. Distribute the other two equally across the remaining space. Mark each support strip location, and notch the beams so each support strip sits flush at the top. Then reassemble the full frame in the truck bed to verify fit.
3. Make the Drawer
With the frame in place, measure the distance between the support beams and subtract 3 inches. Rip two strips of plywood to the proper height, and cut to the length of the bed minus 2 inches. Then rip two strips for the front and back of the drawer. At this point, you can cut divider strips if you want multiple compartments in the drawer. Assemble with deck screws and construction adhesive.
4. Make it Slide
Attach the square tubing to each side of the drawer using self-tapping screws and adhesive. The drawer should suspend above the bed about an inch. Next, install T-screws and bolts. A row of 20 bearings should be spaced evenly along the length of each support beam with half the bearings resting on the top of the space for the steel tubing and half below it. Each bolt should fit through the center of your bearings. Place a nut between the bearing and the support beam, followed by the bearing and then another nut. Once all bearings are in place, insert the drawer. Finish off the build by cutting a sheet of plywood to cover the top of the assembly, which can be screwed in place if desired. You can even throw a pad or mattress on top for a camp on wheels.