Modern pickups don't seem to be designed for pets to ride as passengers. This Tacoma truck has what they call "jump seats" behind the driver's and passenger's seats. They aren't big enough for my dog to perch on, and even with these seats folded up, there really isn't any way for an old dog to get comfortable behind the front seats. I made a simple plywood shelf that sits on top of the jump seats, and attaches to existing brackets to provide a place where my old dog can ride more comfortably.
For this instructable, I used:
1 24- by 48-inch piece of half-inch plywood. This one came pre-cut.
1 6-inch Zinc Plated Mending plate (it's just a strip of metal about 3/4-inches wide by six inches long)
4 1/4-inch by 1- inch bolts with locking nuts and washers
4-1/2-foot Length of indoor/outdoor carpet runner
1 Yoga mat for padding (any foam would do, I had this unused yoga pad, 24-inches by six feet long)
Vise and large hammer
Files or Dremmel tool or sand paper
Drill with 1/4-inch diameter drill bit
Heavy-duty stapler and mallet
Scissors and knife
Step 1: Make a Template
There are several nice "U" shaped brackets at the back of the seats that make nice anchoring points for the bench. I used a piece of cardboard to make a template for the bench. First, cut the cardboard down to a size that will fit into the area where the bench will rest. Mark out where the cardboard needs to be cut away to fit around the hinges and brackets. This is a trial and error thing. It doesn't have to be perfect, you just need to make cut-outs in the template so it will fit around any protrusions.
Mark the locations where you'll be bolting on hooks to catch under the "U" brackets. Take note of how far the hooks need to extend beyond the edge of the plywood to catch on the "U" brackets. Remember to account for the added thickness of the carpet on the final shelf.
Note that I needed to cut out some slots in the plywood to fit up against another set of "U" brackets so I could slide the plywood in far enough for the hooks to engage the other brackets. You can see these extra cutouts in the next set of pictures.
Step 2: Cut the Plywood to Make the Shelf
Lay the finished template against the plywood and mark the cuts. Use the jigsaw with a thin narrow blade to cut away the places you marked. I'm going to be covering the plywood with carpet, so I don't need to sand any of the edges.
I didn't get pictures of the plywood before cutting, but you can see the cut-outs in these pictures.
If you need to cut a long straight line with a jigsaw, just clamp a straightedge (a board would do) to the work and follow along that edge with the jigsaw.
Step 3: Make Hooks
I didn't take a picture of the mending plate before I cut it in half, but you can visualize the thing in one piece. I cut the mending plate in half, and clamped each piece it in the vise so I could heat the end with a propane torch (not shown) and peen it over with the hammer. If you have a big hammer and a good vise, you may not need to heat the metal. I thought about buying "L" brackets and cutting them down, but this seemed easier. I think there are probably other off-the-shelf things you could use, but I got tired of looking. The hook part only needs to be long enough to hook around the 1/4-inch diameter "U" brackets. After cutting and beating the parts into a suitable hook shape, file or use a Dremel tool, or sand paper to clean up the hooks. Finally, the mending plate came with pre-punched holes, but the one at the hook end was too close to the hook. I drilled an extra 1/4-inch diameter hole in each hook for mounting the hook to the underside of the plywood.
Step 4: Mark, Drill, and Mount the Hooks
Mark the locations where the hooks will attach to the plywood. Be sure the hooks extend far enough from the edge of the plywood to hook under the brackets. I could have used a bit more room here to account for the carpet that wraps around the edge of the board, but these work alright.
Use the lock-nuts and washers to cinch the hooks down good and tight. If your bolt-heads get burrs from tightening them down, put a piece of duct tape or something over them to protect the seats.
Step 5: Cut the Pad Material and Staple the Cover Material
Cutting the pad to fit the shelf is pretty straight forward. I pieced some of this together to double up the padding because my dog is getting old and achy. Lay out the cover material (I used 26-inch wide carpet runner material), face down, assemble the padding on top of the upside down carpet, and place the plywood upside-down on top of the padding. The hooks attached to the underside of the plywood will be on top, with the hooks facing downward.
Fold the cover material over the plywood and begin tacking the material in place. Use the stapler to tack the center of each side into position. Make sure you get the material tight. Work your way from the center toward the corners, keeping the material tight. Cut slits for the hooks and for the notches that go around the seat hinges. Work slowly, holding the stapler with one hand and whacking it with a mallet in the other hand. If your aim is exceptional, you don't need the mallet, but I found this worked fine. At the corners, make a few slits and staple each strip down tight before trimming off the excess. You can go around the edges later and flatten any staples that didn't go in all the way with a hammer.
Step 6: Finished
That's it, you're done. It may be a bit tight getting the hooks to catch the brackets until everything seats in place. Just check to be sure the hooks are catching on the brackets every time you put the shelf in.
The finished bench is light and can just be tossed in the back when not in use.
Stay tuned for next project: old-dog stairs, to make it easier for my boy to climb in the truck.
Runner Up in the