I wanted to be able to slide out the "bed" of my cargo area in my Chevy Tahoe. I primarily wanted a work surface (leaning over the bumper was killing my back), but this should make it easier to access items stored in the cargo area as well. There are really nice products made that will do this, but they're quite expensive and the majority of them are not made for anything smaller than a Suburban. I didn't want to spend $1000; I wanted to spend less than $150 (and I was successful).
I have a '99 Chevy Tahoe, and those are the measurements I'll give. This concept should be easily adaptable to any SUV, maybe a station wagon, possibly even a pickup truck but the platform would have to be much longer and well-secured.
Step 1: Supplies
- 2 x 3/4" plywood sheet, 48" (width) by 48" (depth) -- I was able to buy one 4' by 8' sheet and cut it in half.
- 4 x 48" (depth) 2.25"x1.5" slotted angle iron
- 2 x sets of "Appliance Rollers"
- 30 x #8 x 5/8" screws -- you may need more or fewer depending on the length of your cargo area
- 10 x washers to fit the #8 screws -- you may need more or fewer
- 10 x 1/2" long bolts, with rounded heads, not hex, each with washer and lock nut -- you may need more or fewer
- 1 2" long bolt; 1/4" or 3/8" diameter
- Eye protection and gloves, sensible clothing
- Pencil for marking measurements and screw hole locations
- Measuring tape
- Philips head screwdriver
- Socket wrench with socket to fit the lock nuts
- Circular saw, table saw, or other wood saw with a blade to cut plywood
- Drill with 1/2" bit for "stop" hole, 5/64" bit for screw pilot hole, and Phillips screwdriver bit
- Metal cutting saw, hacksaw -- possibly optional
- Angle grinder -- possibly optional, but I strongly recommend it
- A pair of clamps if you're going to be using an angle grinder or if you're going to be making any precise circular saw cuts, or for many other uses.
- Router if you've got access to one (lucky you)
Step 2: Build the Base
1) Make sure you use eye protection. Cut your plywood so you have two pieces, each the size of your "bed."
This is a good place to stop and make sure that you have the measurements correct. Try to slide the board into your "bed," oriented properly, and make sure it goes in without a fight. When you're finished, the whole thing will be just a touch wider than the base.
Put one board (the top board) to the side. You'll only be working on the base at first.
2) On the base plywood board, measure 3 straight lines from forward to backward, making sure you're orienting it as it will be in the "bed." Take several measurements from the side of the board, at each end, in the middle, etc, so that you know you have a very straight line. Use a line 4" over from each side and at the center line. Trace these straight lines--I used the angle iron because it was handy.
3) Attaching the rollers:
Take out your "appliance rollers" and unscrew the screw/wing nut that holds the two pieces together. You now have 8 individual rollers, each with a long tail. You will put these in place by lining up the tail with the line you have drawn. Line up the tail, and put a mark for a screwhole at each extreme end of the slots (one at the close end of the close slot, one at the far end of the far slot), and a mark at the middle of the middle slot.
Mark screwholes to put one roller in each corner, and three rollers along the center line (that's a total of 7). Alternatively, you could put rollers in each corner, and in a diamond shape in the center of the base; this will require more elaborate measurements.
Once you have carefully marked the screwholes, (use eye protection) carefully drill a pilot hole at each mark.
Now line your appliance rollers back up in their places, and use a screw per pilot hole. Your rollers are in place.
Step 3: Put in the Retaining Angle Irons on Each Side
1) Make sure you use eye protection, and for power tools on metal protect your hands (gloves), arms (long durable sleeves), legs (long pants), surrounding area, etc from flying sparks. Make sure you securely clamp anything you will grind.
Cut your angle iron so that it is the length of your "bed" (angle grinder, hacksaw, other metal saw); you may also want to round the edges with an angle grinder or other metal saw. I certainly did; I know I'll scrape myself on the edges if they're left sharp.
2) Fit one slotted angle iron up against the each side (left and right) of the plywood base, with the short side of the angle iron up against the bottom of the base. Clamp the iron in place, and use a screw with a washer about every foot to screw it down. Your base now has vertical edges.
3) Again on each side (left and right), fit a second slotted angle iron up against the first; bolt them together such that the vertical side is about 3" tall. Use your short hex bolts, a washer, and a lock nut about every foot. I put the top angle iron on the inside on each side, as I ended up sanding/rounding the top board such that it is slightly more narrow than the bottom board.
Step 4: Finish the Top Board
Next I rounded the front and side edges of my top board and sanded the top surface. I abused my angle iron to get the rounded edges, but a router would do that much more easily, and it's also possible to do by sanding it down (lots of work).
I'll probably leave it bare wood, but I may try to find a scrape-resistant finish (looking around, seems like my best choice is penetrating resin). You may wish to sand yours very smooth or leave it rough, paint it or stain it or leave it unfinished. Do whatever suits your use.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
- Making a "stop":
Slide the board out to a few convenient lengths, and mark the top board under the first circular hole for each one.
Pull your top board back out and drill a 1/2" hole at each mark.
Slide the top board back in all the way, and drop the 2" bolt through the first round hole into the 1/2" hole underneath. It's finished!
If you can manage to align the drilled holes, the "stop" will be even more secure if it goes through the base as well as the top board. You'll want a 2 1/2" or 3" bolt. Be careful not to drill all the way through the base and into the angle iron, as the drill may kickback and injure you.
- "Installing" it in your vehicle:
- Bolting it down:
So far, for my use, the bottom board is quite heavy enough to keep the whole from tipping.
- Automatic stop: