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Picture of Cargo Container for a 2011 FORD Expedition
With my employer going on a two month road trip around America with his family this summer he wanted a system to keep clothes and personal items in order during the duration of their trip. The result was this cargo container which uses preexisting elements of the SUV to fit snugly and securely in the back. The design layer out maxamizes the available space in the trunk while still leaving some room for random items to be placed on top. 

What you will need:

3 4x8 Sheets of 3/4 in MDF.
1 1/4 in sheet of masonite
52 x 26 in of Carpet ( color and style is up to you)

Access to a Shopbot or any CNC router
1/4 in router bit
1/8 in router bit

Drill
1/16 in drill bit 
square drill bit
6 x 1 5/8 square bit trim screws
Staple gun
wood glue
palm sander
3M 74 Spray adhesive
Industrial Velcro
" shit house" latches or swivel latches ( the guy at the hardware used the first name, amazing) 
Two 6 x 5/8 in hex head bolts.







 
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Step 1: Measurements

Picture of Measurements
DSCN1504.JPG
In this case the measurements have already been done for you and incorporated into the attached cut files. 
What I did was take the width height and depth measurement taking into account the angle of the back row of seats to see what the maximum space was we could get out of the container.

One thing to note is that in the new expeditions the rear door has an automated pneumatic arm which travels about 3/4 on an inch to the right as it shuts. The files I have layer out here account for that travel, but should you decide to change or adapt the designs, keep that in mind. 

The final dimensions were 49w x 18 3/4h x by 23 3/4 deep. This maximized the bed space while still allowing for items to be placed on top. 

The next step was to remove the two plastic brackets bolted to the sidewalls. These are in place to hold the fold out shelf built into the base of the trunk. Make sure to save the parts should you decide to remove the container in the future, but for now you won't need them. These holes will serve as our anchor points for the container in the final steps.

Step 2: Develop cut files

Picture of develop cut files
Vcarve screen shot.jpg
Again, this part of the process has already been done for you.

With the measurements taken I then went to Adobe Illustrator to design it. Why Illustrator you may ask, cause it is simple and it works. You are more than welcome to use a CAD program but at times I have had difficulty transferring those files out to cut programs and considering this file is simple rectangles ( some indicating profile cuts and some pockets) I saw no harm in using good old Illustrator which can export the image out as either a AI file ( vector) or DXF. 

This is all matter of preference. 

Once the Ai file was done I brought it into V carve pro, a pathing program for the Shopbot ( CNC router.) This program allowed me to designate profile cuts and the pockets cuts ( shallow recesses which allow for interlocking parts) 

Again, V carve was the program which I used, there are others. With the Ai file attached you should be able to path these cut files in any program you like. 

From here we go to the Shopbot, yehawwwwwwwww!


Step 3: Running the cut files

Picture of running the cut files
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Here is where you will need not only the cut files but also your wood and router bits ( also safety glasses, earplugs, and a solid knowledge of the basics of CNC routing) 

Lay the appropriate wood on the bed which correlates to cut file you are running. 

There is only one bit change and that is for the drawers. The slots for the bottoms of the drawers require a 1/8 in end mill to cut the groove. I would recommend running these pockets first so the pieces don't shift when you are cutting these precision pockets. 

**A Note: I am running the files at 13,000 rpm and 2.5 ups in three passes ( one through the masonite) You are free to run these files at different feeds and speeds but these are what worked for me**
 
Once you are done collecting all of you parts and you have a good idea of which is which I would recommend taking the palm sander and finishing off all of the edges where the abs held your parts in place ( tabs can be seen in the cut file, they prevent parts from shifting during the cutting process) 

You may also way to take a bastard file and clean up the pocket ( grove) cuts so the parts fit together better. 

once everything is sanded you are ready to piece everything together. 


Step 4: Putting all the parts together.

Picture of Putting all the parts together.
Here is where you want your wood glue, screws, drill, etc. 

** A note: The images here differ slightly from the cut files I have presented. A delightful hard drive crash allowed me to re do these cut files and thus simplify and make more economical. In these images the center of the shelf and the braces are individual pieces. In the NEW files the center of the shelf and the vertical braces are three simple pieces which simply slot together and then lock in to the pockets on the top, bottom, and sides.**

With all of the attachments you make in this process it is HIGHLY recommended that you apply a thin bead of wood glue to both sides and pre drill all of your holes. This will not only ensure a stronger final product but not splits or fractures when you drill everything together.

For the new file I would attach the sides to the bottom of the shelf. Make sure that when you attach them that so that they will sit in-between the top and bottom and NOT butted up against the outside edge. If it helps the total height should be 18 3/4 and the side walls are 17 1/4. With the sides IN BETWEEN ( yet flush to the outside edge) the top and bottom ( both 3/4 in MDF) the total height will be 18 3/4.  I apologize for any confusion. 

Once you have that done, flip it over and attach the bottom. With a complete rectangle attach the back
which, unlike the sides, butt's flush up against the back of the rectangle you have just made. 
 
Next slide the center piece horizontally into the grooves on the sides and then slide the vertical braces into their corresponding slots. 

once all off the parts are put together and held together with a few anchor screws go through and fill out any gaps with a few more screw to really anchor it together.

It sounds like a lot but when you look at the pieces I have presented it will be VERY clear. 

With all of these parts done you are ready for the drawers!




Step 5: Drawers

Picture of Drawers
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With all of your parts at the ready attach the two side walls to the front face of the drawer. 

Take your masonite bottoms ( the fourth cut file is for the 1/4 in masonite)  and slide it into the grooves in the sides and feed it through until it sits flush in the grove on in the front face

With that in place, attach the back of the drawer to the side walls, drew it up and move on to the next. With these done, slide them in and make sure the fit properly, do any additional sanding if nessecary. 

With all of the drawers in place, screw you " shit house latches" or swivel latches at the center point of the vertical brace between ear set of drawers ( both top and bottom) when vertical these latches will allow the drawers to slid in and out, when horizontal either side of the latch will hold a a portion of the drawer in place. 

The next step is to attach the carpet to the top. The carpet allows on to stack things on top of the container with out fear of it slipping around and hitting the windows. 

Take the carpet you have bought and cut it done so you have an inch of excess on all four sides. Center the carpet on the top of the container, start gluing with the 3M 74 moving from on side towards the other, making sure it stays centered. 
fold the carpet edges down and glue to the edge and finish anchoring them with the staple gun.

The final step is the velcro. 

You want to take the male end of the Velcro and put it on the bottom of the container. This male portion links into the carpet already in the SUV and helps prevent additional sliding around. 

Glue these pieces on with the same 3M 74, it won't go anywhere!

Get a friend, load the Cargo container in the trunk of the Expedition and push it all the way back. 
Take a tape measure and measure the distance of the bolt hole in the side wall from the front of the container as well as the top. Pull the container out, drill the holes, countersink a hole for the hex head ( so the head doesn't interfere with the drawer sliding in and out.) put her back in and thread the 6 x 5/8 screws through the side and into the car itself with a socket wrench and you are good to go.

with this step done you are now ready to load here up and drive around and enjoy the newly organized trunk space!






l8nite2 years ago
It's a great project but I don't think you need "Access to a Shopbot or any CNC router" although it would make cutting it out easier/faster, simple power tools or hand tools could be used. Hopefully it doesn't have to be moved in and out very often because with 3 sheets of 3/4 mdf that thing has to be heavy! I'm not disparaging your great project just the wording of the "ible" Thank you for sharing