Introduction: Convert Your Pickup Truck to a Flatbed

Picture of Convert Your Pickup Truck to a Flatbed

My Dodge1500 had a rusted bed so I decided it was time to replace it. In searching for a replacement I found it would be cheaper and easier to convert my truck to a simple flat bed. I added temporary lights so that I could continue to drive the truck during the conversion.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

The flat bed I built is 6' x 6' 4" steel frame with a wood deck. This configuration would fit any full size 6' bed truck. You can easily adjust the dimensions to fit your own truck. Finding the raw materials can be tough because you can't get the larger stock metal in most local hardware stores.
I ordered my steel from a local supplier.This cost $249 for 200lbs of steel. The price included cuts making the price about $1.25 US per pound. Don't be intimidated ordering from big industrial suppliers. Many of them will accept cash orders for pick-up. You may be able to get a deal buying what they consider scrap.

Things you will need

TOOLS
- drill and 5/16" drill bit
- welder
- reciprocating saw with metal blades or cutting torch
- metal clamps (I used all the clamps I own)
- tape measure
- soap marker
- circular saw
- grinder with wire wheel (or wire brush)
*optional cutting torch - I used this to expedite removing the old rusted bed

PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
-Welding Gloves
-Welding Hood
-Cotton Clothing or Welding apron or jacket **(Do Not Wear Synthetic Clothing as it will melt)**
-Leather work boots

MATERIALS LIST
6 - treated 2x10x6
1 - treated 2x12x6
24 - carriage bolts 5/16" 2"
24' - 2" x 4" 11 gauge rectangular steel tubing
40' - 2" x 2" angle iron
* optional 6' - steel C channel
1 - trailer light kit
4 - black spray paint

COST
trailer lights - $60
hardware/ paint $30
lumbar - $90
stock metal - $249

Total cost - $329

Step 2: Remove the Old Bed

Picture of Remove the Old Bed

First you will need to remove the tail lights. Since my truck does not have any tail lights present aside from the temporary. I skipped this step.

To remove the bed there are typically 6 bolts holding on a truck bed. Two found near the cab and four found toward the rear of the frame. You will need to use something to help break the rusted bolts free (I used pb blaster). I lost patience very quickly and decided to cut the bed off with a oxy acetylene torch. You could also use the reciprocating saw to cut the bed free from the frame.

Since I opted for the torch. I removed the plastic bed liner and cut through the bed with the torch to expose the bolts. I used the torch to cut the bolts off and now the bed can be removed.

At this point it is a good idea to do some maintenance on the frame while it is exposed. I sprayed it off with a hose to remove the mud them used a wire brush and a chipping hammer to knock off the rust. I then took a break to put a light coat of primer to protect the frame since I was out of time for the day. ( I added a layer of bed liner to the frame after i completed this instructable)

Step 3: Cut and Prep Your Materials

Picture of Cut and Prep Your Materials

Cut List

4 - 6' (2"x4" rectangular tube)
6 - 10" (2" 1/8" angle)
4 - 5' 8" (2" 1/8" angle)

After you have all of the metal cut use a wire wheel or brush to clean off the mill scale at the weld locations. I also used wood clamps and some wood blocks to hold the materials in place for welding.

Step 4: Layout and Welding

Picture of Layout and Welding

The layout for this truck bed is simple the 4 rectangular tubes are tack welded at the corners. Then the angle iron is clamped in place using a scrap piece of wood 2x4 and some miscellaneous clamps then tack welded. Once all the angles are in place horizontally I used wood blocks to level the new bed in place over the frame. I used the wire wheel and grinder to clean the rusty truck frame at the weld location. The 6 pieces of 10" long 2" angle are welded to the frame of the new flat bed and to the frame of the truck. If you plan to do this on your truck make sure you check the distance between the rubber stop that keeps your rear axle from hitting the frame. You want the clearance from the bottom of the new flat bed to be greater than the distance between the stop and the axle. This will help ensure your tires won't ever rub on the new flat bed.

After all the tack welding is completed clean the slag from the welds and then methodically go through and weld each joint with a finish weld. Make sure to do this symmetrically so that the heat does not warp the metal of the new frame.

* side note: Warping will happen when you heat metal the middle it does not have anywhere to expand but when it cools it cools uniformly and contracts pulling and warping the metal towards the weld. You can actually use this to your advantage with a torch and heat bend big metal just by carefully heating specific areas and allowing them to cool creating a curve. you can also help avoid this by minimizing the welds spacing them out evenly and welding on both sides of the stock being welded. There are many resources online for this if you have problems with your welds.

I used C channel and the leftover angle iron to build a frame to protect the cab. 6ft piece of C channel and four 14" pieces of 2" angle.

After you have completed the welds clean off all of the slag and spatter with a grinder or wire wheel. I wiped down the new frame with a little alcohol and now we are ready for paint and the Wood deck.

Step 5: Cutting and Attaching the Lumber

Picture of Cutting and Attaching the Lumber

In this step I measured out all of my lumber and cut each piece down to six feet. I wanted to use standard lumber widths to make it easier to replace the boards if needed. This worked out to six 2x10's and one 2x12 with about a 1/16" on either edge. Then on either end of each board I drilled two 5/16" holes and bolted the wood down with 5/16" carriage bolts.

Step 6: Painting and Finishing the Frame

Picture of Painting and Finishing the Frame

I bought a few cans of black spray paint and painted a few coats just to protect the metal from rusting. Make sure to take the time to clean any surface rust before painting. Then make several thin coats waiting at least 30 mins in between coats.

After the paint drys I will bolt the wood deck back down. I drilled the holes first so that I could get paint into them and hopefully delay rusting.

[Thanks to everyone's comments here I have decided to coat the whole flatbed frame with bedliner. I will add this step to the instructable once I have it completed. Thanks!!]

Step 7: Attach the Tail Lights

Picture of Attach the Tail Lights

I used regular trailer lights and just wired them into the existing trailer light wiring harness. I'm leaving the factory light harness alone.

Drill two holes on the bottom of the 2" x 4" rectangular tube and attach the lights. Then strip and connect the wires to the trailer light harness of the truck. Black to black white to white, yellow to yellow, and green to green. If you do not have a trailer light harness you can always just mount the old tail lights horizontally under the flatbed or install a trailer wiring harness.


I have used the bed several times to pick up large loads of lumber and it has done great. I plan to build a headache rack and possibly some removable sidewalls in the future but for now the truck is ready to go for the summer.

That's it I hope you like this project.

Comments

kz1 (author)2017-05-24

Really nice job. I have an F250 I'm planning on doing the same thing to. The current bed is toast, so it's off to the scrap yard with that and replacing with a flatbed. I really do like that wood look though. I was thinking all steel like chuckE2009 on YouTube but I like your design too. I am adding the stake pockets, bump rail, and a higher headache bar though. Thanks for sharing!

PeterD60 (author)kz12017-05-24

I'm glad you enjoyed it. The only thing I would do different would be to bolt it on in the first place. I ended up having to take the bed off for some suspension repairs and having it bolted on would have made the process much easier. I ended up cutting it off and fabricating brackets and bolted it back on after the repairs.

AcreageL (author)2017-01-04

I made a quick flatbed out of strictly lumber! Using it to haul firewood. TThere is a video below to see how i made it, very simple and fast to make and pretty cheap! I made it with wood I already had. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEldyjErXIw

PeterD60 (author)AcreageL2017-01-11

that's pretty nice

indianaiceman (author)2017-01-11

Question...I'm trying to do a steel deck...what would you recommend?

PeterD60 (author)indianaiceman2017-01-11

If you can get 1/8" diamond plate and just use more lighter angle iron or c channel. what I did to pick my materials was calculate the weight before I decided what I was using because I didn't want to make the new bed heavier than the old one. https://youtu.be/m9varoGW1S8 this guy did an all metal bed that might give you some good ideas his videos series is pretty good.

wes99 (author)2016-11-01

Wow this is awesome and it only costed you Total cost - $329 :) We do flat decks for pickups at our shop here in edmonton and calgary alberta. Although I cant disclose the price we charge, its in the 1000's - that's because we have a big shop to maintain with full time employees etc...but yeah this is cool, i will be sharing it with the boys at our shop ...check out our website / gallery when you have time. I'll post the links here if that's okay .. http://www.expertec.ca/products/flat-decks/

PeterD60 (author)wes992016-11-02

$329 really amounts to a bill of materials I did not factor in labor at all. I looked at the site you posted and I really like the beds if I could afford it I would love a service bed with tool boxes. I have made some modifications since the instructable I raised the bed 2 in for more clearance when the bed is filly loaded and I added stake pockets to the sides. I'm glad you enjoyed the instructable.

Thanks for the comment!

mosmond (author)2016-06-03

Awesome job. I've always wanted a flat deck truck. It's so much more versatile. You mentioned in an earlier comment that you were considering options for load securing (tie-down points, stake slots, etc.). You could go all-out and weld on some heavy duty ratchet-strap hardware like you find on commercial flat decks. I'm sure an industrial supply store would have that sort of thing.

PeterD60 (author)mosmond2016-06-03

I really like that idea thanks for the comment.

BernitaH (author)2016-05-31

Nice job

frofro (author)2016-05-29

You could make some kind of attachment point for sides and a rear wall that you build. that way you have the option to have a flat bed or a contained bed

PeterD60 (author)frofro2016-05-30

I want to but I'm still trying to work out what's the best way to do it would be. I have been thinking of getting some weld on stake pockets. (took me a long time to figure out that's what they are called. Any ideas on a good design?

Pa1963 (author)2016-05-26

I know many guys that just use old motor oil as a sealer. Seems to work pretty well. I knew an old farmer that said they would dip wood posts into use oil before they sunk them into the ground, and the posts would never rot.

PeterD60 (author)Pa19632016-05-26

I have heard that about that with posts and never thought to try it. I think the bed liner looks nice I'll post some photos after I have a chance to do it.

borentpa (author)2016-05-26

Great step by step Instructable. ... Nothing like a pickup. . Thanks

tjdux (author)2016-05-25

around here a lot of farmers spray bedliner on the wood planks of their trailers. it may keep the topside of your bed looking great and not rotting for a long time.

PeterD60 (author)tjdux2016-05-25

That does make sense I'm going to have to try the bed liner on a piece of wood and see what it looks like. Right now I kind of like the look of the wood. I really like getting the feedback. I'm always looking to improve my projects.

tjdux (author)PeterD602016-05-25

I had never seen it until recently and I think you may be surprised how unique it looks on wood. I have only seen end results and I don't know how they were achieved but at the most recent farm auction I visited there were three different trailers all with bed liner sprayed on the wood planks and it gave a gator leather like look to tbe wood. It was interesting and seemingly very practical.

I do get what you're saying about liking the wood look though. I bet your tbe only guy in town with a late model pickup with a retro wood plank bed. Some wood stain and spar urathane or just the spar urathane will add a few years to the treated lumber. Spar urathane is UV and high moisture rated poly urathane made for wooden sail boats. It will give it a wet shine look and may scratch to a degree but for the money it will slow down weathers effects and have a wood finish.

Lorddrake (author)2016-05-25

Awesome job. Did you apply any sort of protective coating to the underside of the flatbed?

PeterD60 (author)Lorddrake2016-05-25

I did apply black bed liner to the frame but I have not applied anything other than spray paint to the underside of the bed. I have enough bed liner left that I could and now that you mentioned it I think I will. I will also be adding some bolt on tie downs and mud flaps.

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Bio: I got started making things as a child in my grandparents basement. I had the opportunity to take things apart and learn more about how ... More »
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