SUV Trunk Shelf

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About: Still learning about everything. I have a long way to go.

With a baby in the family, we found ourselves having a hard time trying to fit the stroller, emergency kit, groceries, and everything else you put/store in the trunk of a vehicle. We looked online and found shelf options for our vehicle, but they ranged in price from $300 to $375 (USD). Pricing out the materials, I was able to construct a two-piece shelf for approx. $90.


Materials Used:

  • Cardboard large enough to cut a template
  • 2'x4', 0.5" thick plywood, qty 2
  • 1"x3" pine board, 8' length
  • 1.25" construction screws
  • Wood glue
  • 5' length of outdoor carpet, 6' width
  • 3/8" T50 staples
  • Exterior paint


Tools Used:

  • Skill saw
  • Straight edge
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Heavy Duty (T50) Stapler
  • Driver

Step 1: Template

Using a large piece of cardboard, create a template for the location where you shelf will sit. If you're lucky, the space will have mostly straight edges. In my case, the area had a lot of curves. This meant I had to create reference points all along the way in order to properly account for the shape.


You want the template to be exact as possible, while accounting for a 1/8" gap all along the edge. This gap will be needed for folding the carpet over the edge of the shelf. You want the carpet folded over the edge to reduce any rattling or scratching of wood against plastic.

Step 2: Trace and Cut

Instead of one large shelf, we chose to do two pieces. This gives us options for having one or both pieces. You can also add a hinge between your pieces.

Leave a 1/8" gap between the two pieces of wood to allow space for the carpet. Trace your template onto the wood. You may want to mark reference points on the wood to ensure your template is mirrored on both sides as exact as possible.

Using a skill saw, cut each piece. Be as exact as possible. Test fit each piece in the vehicle and make minor adjustments where needed.

Remember, you can also make more cuts! Be conservative when making adjustments so you don't remove too much and end up with an unusable piece of wood.

Step 3: Remove Notches

The location for our shelf had notches for other accessories. For me it was easier to remove these after cutting the general shape. For you, it may be easier to mark their locations on your template.

These were easily marked from below. I then used a jigsaw to remove the sections.

After cutting the notches on each piece I did a test fit before continuing.

Step 4: Support

To prevent bowing, and allow you to place heavier items on your shelf, you'll want to put a cross support on each piece.

Cut a 1"x3" beam to the necessary length for each piece. Then attach using wood glue and construction screws of the appropriate length.

Step 5: Paint

While these will be covered in carpet, I didn't want to worry about the wood getting damage over time if they get wet from rain blowing in or something spilling on them.

Each piece was given two layers of the exterior paint. I chose a color that closely resembled the carpet color.

In addition, if you aren't planning on carpeting both sides of the shelf, the painted finish gives them a nicer look if you can seen them from below.

Step 6: Attach Carpet

For the carpet, I chose an indoor/outdoor option from the local hardware store. It can handle what we plan to put on it, and isn't too expensive.

Lay your piece(s) on the carpet and cut out the necessary shape using a utility knife or scissors.

Make sure you leave 3-4 inches of extra carpet on all sides for wrapping the edges.

I recommend a heavy duty stapler for this part. This is a stapler that takes T50 staples.

Attach with staples every four inches, or less. I recommend attaching one long edge first, pull the carpet tight, then both sides, and finishing with the opposing long edge. You may have to get creative with how you deal with all the odd shapes and corners.

Step 7: Load It Up!

Place your finish pieces in the back of your vehicle and load it up!

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    20 Discussions

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    vivienevolves

    Tip 6 days ago

    I did this years ago in a couple of mini-vans. Plywood dividers cut to divide the cargo space into three long sections accessible from the rear hatch. Notched in 2x3 cross supports spanning the top width and fitting snug. Carpeted plywood topped it all off. Parents in front, kids in the middle, two large dogs on top in the back on comfy beds where they could look out even while laying down, and all the luggage under the platform. Coast to coast several times. No screws, just disassemble and stow flat.

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    willnels3

    16 days ago on Introduction

    Great idea to add extra storage space in the cargo area using two levels! Nice job too!

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    miterbox

    17 days ago

    Wondering if this might work in my van. There is so much wasted open space using only the floor space. You did a great job. Thanks for sharing. Your idea has set my brain to planning!!!

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    hashish16

    18 days ago

    I recognize that trunk, that's a CRV. But didn't it already come with a shelf? The included shelf is rather weak, and this upgraded one looks real nice. Thanks for sharing.

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    jpmarthhashish16

    Reply 18 days ago

    It is a CRV. Unfortunately ours did not include a shelf.

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    redbadger95

    18 days ago

    Well done on the instructions very clear, I would have had the carpet across both boards as a hinge so you can fold the front section back then. Definitely looks professional though

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    jpmarthredbadger95

    Reply 18 days ago

    Had originally planned to use a piano hinge. But wanted the option of having only one or both in, as needed.

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    Mimikry

    20 days ago

    good project!
    I guess glueing/ taping the carpet would look "cleaner" but as you don't see the shelves from below it doesn't matter :)

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    RobW136Mimikry

    Reply 18 days ago

    Great Instructable, you did not show us the underside - I would have glued a piece of carpet on the underside to hide the joins/staples and you wont catch your fingers on them lifting it up but great job. :)

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    jpmarthMimikry

    Reply 20 days ago

    I considered glueing it when my original thought was to carpet both side and hinge the two pieces. Once I chose to not do the hinge, glueing became unnecessary. The staples hold it tight enough you don’t know the difference on top.

    Fantastic instructable! Meets so many of the ideals of the best instructables: looks good, performs a real function, is achievable by others using the guide you created, and costs less than a commercial equivalent. Wow!

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    PatrickGSR94

    18 days ago

    Reminds me of when I made a replacement spare tire cover for my car, using a large piece of 1/4" plywood, cut into 2 pieces with a piano hinge. It allows me to access the spare tire storage area under the floor without having to remove the subwoofer box. :-)

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    jpmarthPatrickGSR94

    Reply 18 days ago

    I considered a piano hinge, and even bought one with the intent of doing what you described. Changed my mind part through the build since it will be easier for us to have the option of only one or both shelves.

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    DavidF14

    18 days ago

    Looking at the cargo area of your SUV it appears that there is an OEM shelf that is supposed to fit there? Good job on making your own, looks like it came from the factory that way!

    1 reply
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    jpmarthDavidF14

    Reply 18 days ago

    A shelf from the manufacturer is an option, but didn’t come standard, unfortunately.

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    hallcp

    18 days ago

    Nice job. Looks OEM. But are you saying the car did not have a shelf there to begin with? That seems odd. I like the trend towards simple, loose-fitting shelves like yours. Put'em in, take'em out!

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    jpmarthhallcp

    Reply 18 days ago

    There are connect points for a shelf, but it’s an option you have to purchase. This was far cheaper than buying a manufacturer or OEM item.

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    yrralguthrie

    18 days ago on Step 7

    The screws into the reinforcement should be driven through the plywood into the bottom board. Much stronger. The screws into the plywood from below will soon fail.
    Good job otherwise.