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sasquatch55's picture


A couple of years ago, I designed the perfect system for hyper-extending finger and thumb digits.

I set aside about half the width and depth of my long-bed pickup and installed an 8' long, by 22" wide, by 10" tall, slide-out drawer: then put in adjustable compartments, and loaded it down with tools. The completion of this project occasioned much celebration, a glow of self-satisfaction, and phone calls to nearby neighbors.

I was almost smug, in fact, because I imagined that I'd saved myself a lot of cash. A chunk of propellant tank foam hit the leading edge of my ego, however, when I tried to pull the drawer out. It wouldn't budge. I mean, it might just as well have been screwed to the bed with Tapcons.

SO... After the neighbors left (and a couple of Budweisers later -- Bud's being the second cousin to invention...), I decided to install waxed, 3/8" skids on the bottom of my drawer. This proved to be a master-stroke, as I could now pull the drawer out by hooking my thumb in the 1/2" cargo ring, howbeit with enormous effort.

That was several years ago, and my bed drawer has returned, repeatedly, to its former state of sullen immovable stasis. The usual progression is for me to remove all the tools, pull the drawer out (it's heavy as hell by itself) re-wax the runners, reinstall, reload, and repeat.

I can usually last about six weeks between rewaxings. The thumb-in-ring-pull procedure is replaced about midway through the process by the claw-of-hammer-in-ring procedure, and that's followed, almost immediately, by the grudging rewax procedure.

Please install propeller beanies and help me out.

I can't find a source for drawer hardware that will handle this drawer. Nothing's long enough, or heavy-duty enough. I've thought about installing some sort of ball-bearing assembly that allows the entire drawer to glide on the floor of its enclosure. Does anyone know of a source for continuous ball-bearing assemblies (6' or longer) that I could mount on the floor of the drawer-box enclosure? Of course, the other option would be to install such hardware on the bottom of the drawer, itself (I'm way smarter than I look).

I've tried, at various times, installing things like furniture glides on the bottom of the drawer (those little neoprene jobbies that allow you to push heavy stuff around), and that hasn't worked. What happens, instead -- as the drawer is pulled out (even with the glides on 4" centers) -- is that you experience the equivalent of driving an empty pickup over a washboard road. This solution is also wildly amusing to assembled neighbors, but highly unsatisfactory.

I would appreciate any helpful (or amusing) thoughts you may have.

The alternative, at this point, is to throw in the towel and bite the after-market bullet. I need a bed drawer to store my tools, and the metal, diamond-plate-constructed equivalents are out there to be had (for multiple-thousands of dollars).

If I adopt your solution, I will give you all the credit the next time I buy a keg and assemble my buddies. (as far as you know)

colebearanimals's picture

(post #85019, reply #1 of 20)

Hi sasquatch55,

I made one of these myself once when I was doing finish carpentry. Put rollers on the bottom. They made it roll easier but it was also uncontrollable, especially when it was full of tools. If you are using this for work on a daily basis, do yourself a favor and buy one already made ( and it will fit your truck exactly ). I didn't but wish I had . Check a current issue of Fine Homebuilding. Seems to me that's where I saw an ad for this type of thing ( sometime ago ). Would probably pay for itself in less than a year.


sasquatch55's picture

(post #85019, reply #2 of 20)

What type of rollers did you use?

The issue with the rollers that I've looked at is that they don't provide continuous support for the drawer as it's extended.

I guess -- if your could install enough rollers on close enough centers -- that they would allow you to pull the drawer out, successfully.

What's happened to me, when experimenting with rollers, is that (as the drawer levers outward, and mass/weight shifts more and more to the front) the drawer's glides, rollers, (etc., etc) tend to get hung-up on the leading edge of the drawer's enclosure. This is especially true at the drawer reaches the very end of its travel limits: It's trying, for all its worth, to flop down, and it puts tremendous compressive force on the foot or so of the drawer-box remaining in the enclosure.

I hear what you're saying about buying one, instead of continuing this futile search for a solution; I'm leaning more and more in that direction.

colebearanimals's picture

(post #85019, reply #3 of 20)

That's exactly what happened to me. I just used fixed casters, 4-5 pair. But when      the  tray gets too far out it wanted to tip. To solve       that problem I attached a set of folding legs  that could be dropped down to support the end.  Worked fine until it was on a  slight, very slight, incline. Then fully loaded with tools,it came crashing out.  That was enough of that. An even more expensive solution would be to buy an enclosed trailer and outfit the interior to fit your needs.  Good luck   


ps    I   could have figured out a stop system to keep it from coming too far out, but the thing was to darn heavy anyway, so, I gave up. Didn't really need it by then anyway because I was opening up a cabinet shop and wasn't doing much field work.

Edited 2/27/2007 1:27 pm ET by colebearanimals

sasquatch55's picture

(post #85019, reply #4 of 20)

Yup, been there/done that, too. (enclosed trailer)

Problem is -- around here, anyway -- (working in Aspen, CO) the town has passed ordinances forbidding the parking of construction trailers. You can make deliveries, but you can't park a trailer and leave it at the jobsite overnight, or even during the day.

Your truck has to contain every conceivable fastener, tool, adhesive, spare part, etc., or you spend your time, during the middle of the day, fighting traffic and standing next to some lady in-line at the local Ace Hardware.

No thanks.

It's gotta be on-board, and usually it is.

There's no perfect construction vehicle that is also a terrific, easily-accessible delivery and hauling vehicle. Vans are nice, but they don't provide for easy palate-loading at the lumber yard, and they're engines are a nightmare to work on or even access. Pickups expose your tools to theft/weather, so you install a utility/camper shell, and then they're hard to load, and the contents of the bed are difficult to access. So, you install a bed drawer, and then...
(blah, blah, blah...)

nikkiwood's picture

(post #85019, reply #7 of 20)

You might look around these sites, but I doubt you are going to find anything you can retrofit on your existing drawers:

"It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts."

John Wooden 1910-

Edited 2/27/2007 5:47 pm by nikkiwood

*** "It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts." John Wooden ,1910-2010

2x4's picture

(post #85019, reply #8 of 20)

I had intended to build a tray similiar to what is available commercially as a roll out bed. I found a set of bearings designed for this purpose and they will support several thousand pounds. The base is angle iron with 3 bearings on each side. One set at the rear , one set at the front and the 3 rd set 3/4 of the way back . The bearings face towards the inside of the PU bolted to Angle iron sitting of flat bar steel with corner bracing to the angle iron where the bearings are located. This will prevent the angle iron from flexing when the bed is loaded. The  mobile bed sits on channel steel that slides back and forth on the bearings. This system will only open about 3/4 of the way out of the P/U bed as it relys on the bearing 3/4 of the way back to keep it from tilting. The bearings have to be mounted to the angle iron so that the top of the bearing is above the  angle iron. This allows the plywood attached  to the channel to extend over the top of the angle iron. I had never got to the point of figuring out a latch but it would be very important as I loose enough tools without spilling them on the road. Never did build one as I bought an enclosed trailer. Anybody got any hints on how to keep the inside of a trailer organized. Somedays I think I should have built the sliding bed. If interested in the bearing # I still have them somewhere


Jigs-n-fixtures's picture

(post #85019, reply #9 of 20)

What comes to mind, and I have only seen one, is a flat bed truck, with side pull drawers sandwiched between the bed and a top bed where you can carry a load.  Kind of a shorty utility bed. 

knotty1's picture

(post #85019, reply #10 of 20)

Sasquatch,  I'm not sure how long slides are but you can check out Camping  I know they make slides for the storage under the big RV's - maybe they would have your size.  I know a friend of mine had them installed in his Class A motorhome and boy could he store heavy equipment!  Good luck


Elcoholic's picture

(post #85019, reply #5 of 20)

There are sidemount style drawer slides out there.  I've seen them.  A freind used them for a monster expanding dinning room table that sat up to 14.  I'll drop him a line and get back to you.  Failing that install full length UHMD PE runners.

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking

The more things change ...

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking

The more things change ...

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

colebearanimals's picture

(post #85019, reply #6 of 20)

Yes, there are. I just wonder what the load capacity for those slides are? I know the drawer I made got REALLY heavy loaded with tools and such.


milanuk's picture

(post #85019, reply #11 of 20)

Well, I don't know if this will work or not, but it's what I have in mind for the next truck (selling ye ole' F250 extended cab 4x4 long bed w/ noisy diesel engine and getting an extended cab small 4x4 w/ canopy... no longer need the towing capacity). Try putting some sort of smooth/slick material on the bottom of the tray/box (laminate might work well, or some thin polished aluminum), and make some runners mounted to the bed out of UHMW. I'd probably try some 2x2's w/ strips of UHMW screwed down every so far... I'm guessing they wouldn't have to be 'continuous. The smooth surface should slide pretty easily on the UHMW, shouldn't need lubed, shouldn't attract dirt/grit, and the individual sections should be replaceable if they do eventually wear.

One person mentioned drawers sliding *too* easily and coming out entirely. A suggestion might be to fashion some sort of inside lip on the frame surrounding the drawer, and have some flip-up stops that you can flip down to removed the drawer, or leave up to keep it from exiting unintentionally. Definitely want to 'overbuild' this part, because if it gets a full head of steam w/ a load of tools in it, it could rip the stop right off otherwise.

Just tossing out some ideas, hope they help.


sasquatch55's picture

(post #85019, reply #12 of 20)

I think you've arrived at the best solution, overall.

I just can't bring myself to shell out $1500 for one of those heavy-guage, diamond plate, bed drawers.

They're slick as heck, but serious overkill from my point of view.

My setup is also complicated by the fact that I installed a slide-out bed extension, first, and then installed the bed drawer on top of that. I did the same thing a previous poster related that he had done, too: I installed a folding center leg that drops down and supports the drawer when it's extended beyond 42" (the distance between grade and the bottom of the drawer when set up on level ground). On the job site, I pull out the steel "extendo-bed" (it slides out over the tail-gate and locks into place), and that gives me both easy access to the cargo area, and also a great on-site workbench. I have a portable vise that clamps to the back of the extended bed. When the bed is pulled out it projects about 6' behind the truck, and I can then extend the bed drawer. The combination of the two extensions creates a long, stable work-bench, and all tools are readily accessible.

My current bed drawer set up is ideal in a lot of ways, because the drawer only occupies one half of the total width of my bed, I have the full height (from floor of extendo-bed to roof of utility shell) to transport other large cargo items.

The problem with commercially available bed drawers (at least the ones I've been able to source...) is that they are all 4' wide, and are designed to in-fill the area between the wheel wells, completely, and flush-out with the top of the wheel wells. The manufacturers tout this as a "plus!" suggesting that a purchaser of their drawer system will have "enhanced storage capacity," because he can now haul things wider than 48" (nominal distance between wheel wells).

'Course the down-side of this "enhanced capacity" is that your cargo is being transported at nearly the same elevation as the top of your truck's tailgate, so you've gotta figure on strapping everything down, securely, for fear that your cargo (in a heavy wind, or with an emergency maneuver...) will remodel somebody's windshield.

So here's my solution (owing to y'all's great input): I've just ordered 54' of 1.5" wide, 11 mil thick, 3M "Specialty Tape" (3M UHMW Film Tape 5423, 1 1/2 In x 18 Yard) The tape isn't cheap ($68 plus shipping), but it's supposed to be bullet-proof and designed for my application.

It's super-low-coefficient-of-friction and "self-lubricating," and it's designed to be used in high-wear applications. I'm going to line the bottom of my drawer runners (1 1/2" wide skids) with this tape, and also line the bottom of the drawer enclosure with it. So, two mating layers of the tape will be sliding ("gliding," I hope) atop one another.

Should do a great job in this application.

Thanks, all, for your help and ideas.

fourquarter's picture

(post #85019, reply #13 of 20)

A buddy of mine made his runners out of some scrap pieces of Trex. It seems pretty smooth, but not too slick.

Good luck

kenshep's picture

(post #85019, reply #14 of 20)

Why not use these?  Ball bearing rollers.  You can recess them into the drawer bottom or into the bottom of your cabinet.  Optimally I would probably have put them in the base, but as an after production step you may have to put them on the bottom of the drawers.  You might have to shorten your drawer height to make them fit

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jeff100's picture

(post #85019, reply #15 of 20)

Let us know how the UHMW works out, that was gonna be my suggestion but somebody beat me to it....I'm planning to make one of these bed drawers myself, so I have a real interest in this....


Ryan1's picture

(post #85019, reply #16 of 20)

The drawer is on top of the box in this photo.   UHMW.

Life is short, go square drive.

Ryan1's picture

(post #85019, reply #17 of 20)

The drawer is on top of the box in this photo.   UHMW.


Edited 3/1/2007 1:17 pm ET by Ryan1

Life is short, go square drive.

suv_drawer_system_1.jpg55.06 KB
scruff's picture

(post #85019, reply #18 of 20)

Purchase a pair of used roller blades at a second hand store and bolt the wheels to the tops and bottoms of the back of the drawer. Put a couple more under the drawer near the front. You'll likely have to put a catch on the drawer, it'll work so good.

I recently purchased some 48" long heavy duty ball-bearing slides from Lee Valley tools. They work great in my van. One drawer out the back and one drawer out the side door.

Regarding the keg, I can get thirsty


c3inspector's picture

Pickup truck pull out drawer/floor. (post #85019, reply #19 of 20)

Years ago I made a Drawer open at the rear with garage door rollers and tracks bolted to the floor for it to move in and out.  I think it was like 4" off the original floor plus the thickness of the 3/4" plywood I used for the floor.  You don't have to bolt it to the floor if you don't want to drill holes in your bed floor.  You can put support at an angle from the sides of the tracks up to the under neath side of your bed sides or in some cases like my Colorado - it has tie down loops that you could attach it to. If you don't bolt it to the floor the two tracks need to be attached to each other to make a square frame.   It actually works pretty good but it will not support the 2000# the the commercial outfits can.  I did have several hundred pounds on it and never had a problem moving it.  YOu have to spray some garage door lubricant on the rollers once in awhile.

marking's picture

And the answer is... (post #85019, reply #20 of 20)

I've tried to make a drawer like this and had similar issues.  Could never figure it out.

Finally, I saw a guy's truck who had really figured it out.

He used garage door hardware.  The tracks are mounted stationary and the rollers go on your drawer.  I think I remember he mounted the tracks on the inside of a bigger box that your drawer fits in.  But it might make sense to attach the tracks directly to the truck bed, thereby eliminating the extra weight of second box.

Check your local garage door installers.  They often don't reuse the old hardware, but rather use all new.  They probably throw out several sets per week.  Or most hardware stores sell garage door parts

Good luck !