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Wooden truck bed tool box

TXJon's picture

I have been considering building a wooden truck bed toolbox.

Does anyone have any experience with this?

I was thinking 3/4" plywood panels, 6/4 solid corners, T&G or biscuit joinery, nice brass hardware, marine varnish for UV protection.

I have also considered fiberglassing thinner solid stock (thin strip built boats).  Maybe I should fiberglass it regardless?

I would appreciate stock and joinery suggestions, as well as any real experience anyone has.

Any thoughts?


mango's picture

(post #80290, reply #1 of 5)

doing something with 1/2 strips alternating light and dark wood and fiberglassing would look preety neat

look in some boat building magizines and books for techniques  look for strip plank

Having done some boat building the biggest problem I see is a waterproof lid so pay particular attention toboat hatch construction.


  sounds like a fun project ...good luck with it


Sprucegum's picture

(post #80290, reply #2 of 5)

I have been trying to design a wooden headache rack for my truck and what a headache it is!

I planned to use solid wood laminated with West System epoxy as the glue and as the sealant. But I am still concerned about the wood movement as no sealant is perfect over time.

A free standing toolbox should work quite well,though, and look awesome. You will need a lot of UV protection on the sunny side up portions. The covers or lids will need substantial thickness or bracing to avoid warpage.

Good luck

It's not what you chew, it's how you chew it


hmltnalan's picture

(post #80290, reply #3 of 5)


Where were you when I was selling plans for wood tonneau covers and toolboxes?

The tonneau covers were made from 1/4" plywood; for looks and strength the exterior was covered with either a thick veneer or 1/8" (1mm?) luan ply, or any hardwood ply for that matter.  For strength the tonneau cover had a frame made from 1x6 fir.  The tool box was made from 3/8" ply with a similar exterior treatment.  The tool box didn't need an internal frame.

Both were made using wood/epoxy methods (not WEST necessarily; there are cheaper manufacturers).  All surfaces had at least three coats of epoxy, and the exteriors were fiberglassed with (IIRC) 2oz. fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin; the interior of the tool box, for obvious reasons, was also fiberglassed.

If you are very careful to completely encapsulate every inch of the wood and fiberglass high wear areas, so the capsule won't wear through, so that not even the smallest bit of wood is exposed to the environment, you will have no trouble with moisture or wood movement.  IME epoxy does fully prevent the migration of water in or out.

Finally, I put several coats of spar varnish on the exteriors for both looks and UV protection.

This all sounds very much like your project, huh?  If you want to read up on wood/epoxy construction I wholeheartedly recommend The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction.  It's much more than just boat building:  it's a valuable resource for wood/epoxy.


TXJon's picture

(post #80290, reply #4 of 5)

Thanks very much for the information.  It's nice to hear from someone who has actually done this.

I have some experience with epoxy/fiberglass (strip canoe) as well as some leftovers.

What kind of hardware did you use?  Should I go through marine suppliers for silicone bronze, or do you think brass would be sufficient?

Was the weight of the top enough that I will need gas filled struts?

Did you have any luck selling these?

Sorry for all the questions!


hmltnalan's picture

(post #80290, reply #5 of 5)


If you've made a canoe you should have no difficulty.  The only hard part is getting all the engineering and dimensions correct.

On the tonneau cover I used ordinary hardware store lift handles and a locking device I got at a RV supply store.  They were galvanized steel where it didn't show, and chrome plated where it did; it worked and lasted.  Brass looks great--for a while.  Brass usually requires routine maintenance; but I seem to remember reading there's a new coating for brass that eliminates tarnishing.  Silicon bronze, of course, is great stuff; but it, too, requires maintenance (unless there's a similar coating for it).  On covers I made for others, IIRC they all went with the steel.

The tonneau cover was heavy, so I used gas-filled struts.  Otherwise it was very difficult to lift.  With the struts it was virtually weightless.  (The weight, however, was a good thing.  Several large people could stand in the middle of it with no ill effects.)

Yes, I sold quite a few sets of plans.  I even made a few bucks.  I resisted making the things for others, but I was talked into it a few times.  Making one was fun; even making two or three was fun; but after too many it got to be like work.