So for this build I will be making a draw system. I will be making my draw system out of aluminium and connector pieces. The other options would have with aluminium sheet metal for the draw bottom and sides plywood for the top and front faces and covering all marine grade carpet that they use on boats.
I have researched a few different methods and this seems to the way to go. Some other options would have been:
- make all out of plywood (strong, heavy, cheap).
- make out of steel tubing welded (very strong, heavy and expensive).
- Aluminium and connectors (lightweight, strong, and expensive).
Step 1: Planned Features
some of my planned features:
- 2x draws and like in the photo side compartments.
- Top bench will be on another pair of draw slides and will pull out.
- Flush handles for draws that also open and lock draws system.
- Flush tie down points.
Down the track planned features:
- inverter system for power management.
- 12 volt plugs built into draw system.
- air compressor built into side compartment for when 4WD.
Step 2: The Purchase (OMG, Good Bye Money!)
The bill of purchase:
(All from Bunnings-Australian hardware store)
Connectors x 60 $143.52
Aluminium tubing 12x 3m $341.87
2x pair Draw slides 1219mm (217kg weight rated) $389.98
2x U channel 2mm gal $270
4x eye plate $51.08
high tensile nuts & bolts 6x25mm (90) $38.79
liquid nails (3pk) $5.68
never wet spray $31.90
2x drop T handles $72.63
2x L bracket $5.56
4x tie down points (1000kg rated SS) $89.08
Top 800mm draw slide $80.15
3m x 2m marine carpet $104.70
2x structural grade plywood $90.00
4x oval quick links (rated 230kg) $17.48
100x washers $7.54
Rivets approx. $40-$50
steel lengths $20
high tensile nuts & Bolts 25x 50mm $82.5
Sub Total= $1898.96
Ozito drop saw (metal and wood blades + stand) - $100
3x Hardened drill bit $34.92
drill bit sharpener $39.97
loc tite $13.35
rivet gun with drill combo $295.00
Sub Total 583.24
Grand Total= $2482.20 Ouch
Step 3: Planning
I found this stage really helpful, grabbing all connector pieces and laying them out as if they were connected. I discovered two important things:
- I was missing some vital connectors that I just didn't add up correctly.
- I had 12 extra connectors of the incorrect type. (Which I could return, but will use them for another project down the line).
Step 4: Making Space for the Cage
I am going to call the outside support of the draw system the cage, so If I refer to the cage you will know what I mean.
First job I realised today I that I will not be able to fit everything in unless I cut everything shorter or get rid of the ute liner. This took some contemplating as I think they are a couple of hundred dollars. It takes up a lot of extra room that I could be using, so decision made "tray get out of my 4WD!!!". I used my trusty Dremel (Love the Dremel, so many uses) with wood cutting tool and this worked perfectly. I may still use the upper sides of the liner but for the time been, they are out.
Step 5: Sizing and Cutting the Cage
Planning is half the battle. I would writing down the size and measurements for every single piece that you have. Quite a few times I would measure and then think "Oh no I have to subtract the size of the connector.
Measuring the width was done by pushing the end lengths hard up against the wheel arch we will call it (A), then subtract the middle support width (b), and then divide by two to get the two equal widths. A - b/ 2 = equal widths.
Now because I am currently in a rental property I do not have a shed or workshop, I found the I didn't really need one. I discovered a very cool trick, usually for making multiple cuts for anything you would make up a jig. I found that if you clamp your aluminium in the exact place you want to cut the use the wall as your jig this works really well. The drop saw is so heavy I did not move once in in place and all cuts were the exactly the same.
Step 6: Adding the Height Supports and Top of Cage
Measure, Cut, cut, cut etc...put together with rubber mallet.
I found the these Australian "Connect it" pieces did not like coming back off at times and tended to break, so make sure you have a few extra of all pieces, it will save you yet another trip to the hardware store. Lucky for me I had plenty extra. I would say the connectors have a high load strength but not very much movement strength, so when this is all connected the next job will be to rivet everything.
Step 7: Damn, Damn.......Redo
Ok, I got greedy and paid the price of an extra few hours work. I made the height to tall and didn't notice at the back of the ute that the top of the ute tray pushes forward making the whole cage sit to close to the tail gait as shown. This is too close as I will need room for the front of the draw which will like be made of plywood and marine carpet. I am guessing the plywood would be approx. 12mm plus carpet may take it up to 15mm total. So all I need to do is shorten all the height supports.
Easy enough task just take the top cage off as one piece, then remove all the height supports and cut to desired length. I did manage to brake 3-4 connectors in this process.
I hope everyone doesn't mind me showing the parts where I have hit road blocks. I just want to show that it never game over, just needs to be worked around and change your plans.
Step 8: Compl ...ete..... Wait......Redo.
In a lot of the draw systems I researched, the ends are secured by D-shackle and some tightening contraption (I don't know it's name, obviously). My initial plan has been to have the wings all the way at the back over the wheel arches because that is the way everyone else did it. I didn't find that this made sense, as it made it more difficult to hide the D-shackle tightening thingy. So I have moved the wings to the middle, this will make more sense for supporting the side/top plywood panels. All will make sense further down the track..... hopefully!
Step 9: Time to Rivet
Now, I felt just to give the cage the extra stability and strength I would rivet all the aluminium tubes and connectors together. This will require a lot of rivets, having done a lot of riveting in the past I found it wise to buy a rivet gun. It will save your arms dropping off at the end of the day. Yes, it is an expensive tool but well worth it.
Make sure everything is snug before riveting and I decided not to rivet one side of the wings so I could work on the cage out of the car and slot it in later on.
Step 10: Heavy Gauge Sides to Attach Runners
I wont be able to secure the draw runners to the aluminium tubing because all those nuts and bots will just get in the way. I will need to put a heavy gauge galvanised sheeting on the his can be purchased to size from a metal sheeting company which is what I did (This was an expensive option). Down the street from the metal sheeting shop was a budget home disposals, I love these shops as they have cheaper resources.
Step 11: Making the Draws
It is important to remember when sizing to up the width of the draws, to leave room for the extra width of the door skin (as I am calling it).Dry fit to make sure everything works well together then rivet all the aluminium pieces together.
Step 12: Secure Your Load
In order to secure this to the vehicle I used eyelet plates with twisty things (unsure of actual name), with screw shackle. I also made sure to used some thick steel on the opposite side eyelet plate to make sure pressure would be spread out over a greater distance. You will need a hardened drill bit for this part and it will take a long time to drill each hole (15mins). I did not have a drill press, only cordless drills. This was an unpleasant and boring experience to say the least.
This step can be done at any stage, I felt the need to connect them now as the draw was becoming heavy and it was going to be difficult to do once the draws where connected.
Step 13: Making the Table Top
First, make a plan do it to scale then add that scaled drawing to your real size plywood. My plans for the plywood top are to have multiple sections that are individually covered with the marine carpet. This ensures that if a section is damaged or worn out it can easily be replaced.
Step 14: Cutting the Plywood to Exact Contour of the Ute
To do this I used cardboard bent and cut to the exact contour of the ute tray. I then use the cardboard as a template on the plywood.
Step 15: Adding Supports If You Want Top Sliding Table
I needed to add some supports for the top draw runners to lay on, this is because the pre drilled holes did not match up with the aluminium supports. I could have drilled a few more in the draw slider but didn't really want to do that.
Now that I have added extra height to the sliding table, I needed to add some extra height to the rest of the top of the aluminium to make the whole top flush with each other. It was convenient
Step 16: Cut Out Sections for Tie Down Points
Use the tie down points as a template, trace the shape of the hole you need onto the plywood.
Drill a large hole into where your hole will be.
Insert jig saw blade into drilled hole and cut out hole from the inside.
Step 17: Cut Out Handles for Side Removable Section
For this I just used an offcut of aluminium and a socket bit for the template. It didn't need to be exact as it needs to be sanded and will be covered in carpet. Make sure to leave enough room for the carpet as the carpet takes up 5mm on each side.
Step 18: Adding L Bracket Support for Removable Side Section
I used an angled support bracket for this although I wish I didn't as I realised too late that I could not fit the drill in the back of the ute to secure it properly. Instead I used liquid nails to secure it, this worked but is not very strong. Maybe try doing this earlier.
Step 19: Waterproofing Wood
A mate of mine from work suggested waterproofing the wood before gluing on the carpet so that it doesn't warp or rot the wood. After completing the project I don't think this was necessary as the glue used to secure the carpet to the plywood will waterproof it anyway! Not to worry, it will be extra water proof.
Step 20: Sizing Up the Carpet to Wrap Around the Top Peices
Use the cut out pieces of plywood as your template and add whatever your side measurements are, mine was an extra 15mm around the sides.
Make sure you have dry fitted the wood in the back of the vehicle before gluing, as once it is glued they will not be able to be removed with ease.Make sure to leave gaps (loose fit) for the carpet when dry fitting.
Step 21: Gluing Carpet
I used a horizontal (comes in horizontal and vertical) contact glue, the basically used for gluing carpet and vinyl to floors. Easy to use, put even amounts to both surfaces and allow to dry for 20-40 mins. Once touch dry line both sides up and stick together. Makes sure to get all creases and bubbles areas out before it dries completely.
Step 22: Draw Skin
I had the draw skins manufactured for me out of 2mm galvanised sheets. This was a very expensive option $270 for them both. I had these cut and bent to size into a "U channel" this was so they would have maximum strength. These skins added a lot of weight, I did see on you tube using aluminium sheets but I did not think this would be strong enough (I could be wrong, but the aluminium is a soft-ish metal and all the weight in the draws could pull the bolts through).
Not a good time to stuff up measurements. My measurements had to fit the external measurement of the draw sliders and external measurement of the draw skeleton (aluminium tubes). I managed to get it just right. I was too tight initially, then I realised I had rivets in the way adding and extra 1-2mm. removing the rivets meant the draw could then slide in and out with ease.
Step 23: Adding in the Tie Dow Eyelets
The holes for the eyelets in the wood should be cut out already and covered with carpet. Find the hole and with a sharp razor or knife cut away the carpet covering the hole. Place tie down point in hole and secure with screws and glue if you want (I didn't use glue, but may add it later on once I am sure everything is in the right place).
Step 24: The Front of Draws
now that you have the top on You should now be able to get your measurements for the front of the draws. One thing to note, (which I didn't think of when doing this) make sure you have enough of a gap for getting over the tail gate when pulling draw out. I did not initially leave enough room and the draw would get struck on the tail gate. The picture above show how much I had to remove. Remove a bit extra for the carpet when you put it on.
I used the high tensile bolts and nuts, made them flush so when the carpet goes over you will not see them. I screwed them into the aluminium frame.
Step 25: Fitting the Front Side Panels
Fitting these side panels was a bit tricky and needed a bit of trial and error. Not only did I need to cut out a notch for the metal protrusion that the draw is secure to but I also has to put a bevelled edge on one of the sides. This allowed the wood to sit in as far as it could go and you wont see any gaps on the sides.
#Make sure to leave room for the carpet
Step 26: Time to Get a Handle on Things
Time for some draw handles, I bought 2x "lockable drop T handles". There were a few different designs and I think I purchased the weaker of the designs. One I installed them, it was noticeable how easy it would be to just give a big pull and pull the lock straight. I might go back and see what else they have later.
These handles came with a rubber gasket which I used as my cutting template. Cut the hole as described earlier and secure with high tensile bolts and nuts.
Step 27: Carpeting the Draw Fronts
As described previously, glue both sides, wait 20mins, stick together. I did need to cut out a bit extra carpet because my bolt was just a little too short.
This completes the draw and you are at the end!! Go have a beer and pat yourself on the back, well Done!