Wooden Stake Sides, Ford Super Duty
I own a 2005 Super Duty super cab long bed, and it gets used for a diversity of purposes. I have a cap that I take on and off depending on what I'm doing, and a cool Rhino Rack for the cap that I can remove. I have often thought that it would be quite useful to utilize the already existing stake pockets in the bed rails to build up the sides for certain purposes like hauling wood, trash, mulch, or anything else I don't want spilling onto these pot-holed Pennsylvania roads.
I have been searching the web far and wide to find plans for pickup truck stake sides. There really is no such thing. Then I tried searching for just photos. There is a lot of stuff for 1940s truck sides, and plywood "Sandford and Sons" contraptions, but I wanted something that was useful and also complemented the look of my truck, not make it look like a scrapper's truck!
I'm not really a wood worker, but after lots of thinking, measurements, and some sketches, I bought the lumber and the hardware and made some sides for my Super Duty.
Here was my idea and my process:
1. Sides need to look good but be functional
2. I wanted them to fit the style of the truck
3. I didn't want them sticking out past the cab or above it. No "boxy" look!
4. I wanted a good, sturdy, tight fit.
5. Easily removable.
6. Weather resistant
Here is how I made them:
Step 1: Make the "stakes" to Fit Into the Stake Pockets
Because I did not want these sides to stick up past the truck cab and completely destroy the styling of the truck, my sideboards could be no taller than 15" above the bed rails. I used pressure treated 2x4s for the 6 stakes that support the sideboards and cut them to the appropriate length; depth of pocket plus 15" (except for the rear ones which are shorter because of how I chose to style the rear of the sideboards).
The stake pockets on Ford trucks are not large enough to fit a 2x4, I had to rip my 2x4s down to fit. Also, the pockets have rounded corners, so the corners of my now slimmer 2x4s also had to come off.
To secure the stakes in the pockets, I drilled holes through the 2x4s from the factory holes that exist in the bed into the pockets. I put 1/4-20 T-nuts on the outside of the stakes so that I could drive a 1/4-20 screw through the factory holes in the bed and draw in the bottom of the stake to keep the sides sturdy and secure. This also keeps them from rattling down these pot-holed Pennsylvania roads!
Step 2: Cut and Bolt on Sideboards
For the sideboards, I bought 10 ft-long pressure treated 1x6s. Since my boards could be no higher than 15", I actually trimmed the 1x6s down to just under 5" wide so that I could stay beneath my 15" rule. All 1-bys got their edges routed with a 1/4" round-over bit.
Because I wanted these sides to look good, I scribed the leading edge of the side rails to match the slight curve the back of the cab has. On the trailing edge I tried to select an angle that complemented the shape of the truck.
Also, stake sides, such as these, should have the vertical "stakes" on the outside of the sideboards! I see them done the other way (stakes on the inside) all the time, and I presume it's for a "cleaner" look, but I think it just looks weird. My reasons for doing it this way are:
- It's the way it's done on commercial trucks and trailers,
- It looks better by breaking up those 8ft long boards,
- the inside of your cargo box is smooth; no vertical stakes to catch your load or reduce your space,
- the Ford Super Duty, at least, is designed so that when you put a 1x board on the inside of your stake, your sideboards will line up perfectly with the bed rail below!
I pre-drilled all of the holes and used 3/8" carriage bolts (I think) with a flat washer, lock washer, and nut to tie everything together.
Step 3: Headache Rack
This is all about protecting that rear window! As a bonus, it adds rigidity to your sideboards.
I built slots on the inside of the sideboards out of the scrap I ripped off my1x6s for the headache rack to slide into. Then I used the same size board (the bottom one is slightly larger because the front of the bed is slightly lower than the sides) for the headache rack as I did on the sides and trimmed the top board to curve with the cab because I didn't want it sticking out, of course!
I added some "L" brackets to reinforce the whole system. They are permanently screwed into the sideboards, but the headache rack has 2 1/4-20 T-nuts so that the rack can be removed when I take the boards off.
There are also 2 vertical 1x6s on the other side of the headache rack that act as the "stakes" on the sideboards do. They aren't in any pockets, but are just there to hold the 4 boards together.
You could cut some sort of window with wire mesh in the rack for rear visibility, but I chose to leave it solid. I was sure to leave the high-mount brake light visible, however.
Step 4: Enjoy Your Added Cargo Capacity!
Load it up (safely)! On my Ford 8ft bed, I calculated that the sides increased my cargo volume by about 75%!
By backing out the screws in each of the stakes and the two on the headache rack, my sides come off in 3 pieces and can be stored taking up very little space. I let them dry out for a year and then put some sealer on them to protect them and preserve the color that I thought went with my blue truck pretty well.
I'm sure this design could be used and slightly modified to fit other brand trucks, though I am not familiar with their stake pocket designs like I am with Ford.
Feel free to ask if you need further clarification or more photos on anything.