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Ideas and Methods for DIY Truck Topper Answered

So in 5 months starting February I'll be getting my first vehicle. If I do get a truck, I'll be making my own topper out of wood. Now I have a reference picture but I want it out of wood just because it's more secure and looks pretty. Also because I will be making a door on the back that stands tall but can also be walked through. The first two photos is how I want to make the topper but I need methods and advice to do so. The third picture is how I want the door.

I'll try to answer any question when you have them but keep in mind I don't currently own a truck, this is for 6 months down the road.

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Ecospirit

3 months ago

Hey JLowery5 I'm sorry the Instructables community was not more supportive of your quest for some DIY truck cap ideas.

I am going to build something for my truck which led me to the google search that led to this post. Once I build something I'll post an instructable. In the meanwhile... some ideas.

1. The first photo is strong and simple. Straight lines using straight boards and plywood. It will be strong and likely the heaviest of all the options.

2. For rounded shapes photo 2 looks like a strip built and fibreglassed creation similar to building a strip canoe. Strip building is beautiful and time consuming. Another method for getting rounded shapes is kerf cutting plywood. See this video.

2b. Another idea is to use stitch and glue construction like they do for this boat. If you think of your truck topper as an upside down boat you get the idea.

3. Fancy rear door.... this one looks complicated, I will go with a simpler hinged top half solution but if you wanted to build a custom mold out of foam in the shape of the door you wanted to build and then create a custom door out of fibreglass... check this video out.
I havn't decided on a method yet but winter is approaching and Ill be working outside so fibreglassing season is coming to an end so I am probably looking at a framed skeleton with plywood covering.

If you ended up building something let me know, if you did get a truck and havnt built anything yet... think about getting back into it.

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milton45

1 year ago

I was checking those newest tonneau covers at 4WheelOnline until I saw this cool customized camper, way cooler being made from wood.

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Downunder35m

2 years ago

I would check first if you are allowed to do it.
When it comes to cars most countries have quite strict rules for "homemade additions".
There is a reason for it...
If you can still continue check the weight of everything first.
Wood can be heavier than you think, especially with hundreds of screws in it and several thick coats of varnish.
A very neat way to cut the weight down and get best stability would be to make the ouside from sheets of chipboard or wood laminate, whatever is cheaper to obtain.
A frame, some boiling water or steam and glue is all you need.
There are several Ibles about bending wood and making furniture, check a few ;)

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jlowery5Downunder35m

Reply 2 years ago

And what searches would one use to find that out?

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Downunder35mjlowery5

Reply 2 years ago

I hope you have more luck with your searches for other parts of your project, seems Google is not yet your friend.
Try this for example, includes links to Instructables as well.
Not really that hard is it? ;)

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jlowery5Downunder35m

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks for the sarcasm but I'm set on it not looking terrible and being secure enough to protect the contents of the truck from theft. Let me ask the question a little more clear. Do you know what I would look for to find the legality of "homemade additions" being added to my vehicle?

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Downunder35mjlowery5

Reply 2 years ago

No sarcasm here...
The fact is that in most modern countries anything you add to your car must comply with certain design criteria and be legal to use in terms of being safe in an accident.
Let's face it: The last thing you want is your wooden top to desintegrate in an accident and injuring people nearby.
And again without any sarcasm: The best place to ask is quite obvious:
The place that gives the registration to your vehicle or the one required to inspect a used car so the ownership can be transfered for road use.
Basically the same as building your own trailer from scratch.
In a lot of cases a certain size does not even require own numberplates.
But if it does it will be checked for compliance with road safety and structural safety.
I know in certain parts of the US it does not matter what you do to your car in terms of canopies or truck tops but that does not mean every design someone created in his backyard is actuall safe on the road.
Can you imagine why they abondoned wooden exteriors for cars and most trailer ages ago?
Your design might certainly look great when finnished but unless you happen to be a structural engeneer I still advise t double check the legal side first and than go for a design with as much "solid" wood as possible.
Panel designs with hundreds of screws are a thing I would not want to have permanently connected to my car.

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Downunder35mDownunder35m

Reply 2 years ago

Forgot to mention:
Using single sheets that are not laminated is the best option.
Multilayers thicker than 3mm can be a real pain to bend.
The single ones often only need a good soak in warm water to make them flexible enough to go around bends like you would have.
If there is any furniture makin store near you or your hardware store is well stocked you can use something more special than birch or pine for the last layer.
Or just use a nice stain if you want to stay on a budget.
Make sure to create enough layers to get proper stability.
8-10mm are usually sufficient unless you want the final piece without any internal support frames on the wood.
For a clean inside look with enough strength and thickness to use proper screws I recommend going to 12 or up to 15mm.
You won't get a better look than something that looks like one solid piece of wood ;)
If you get big enough sheets you can even cut the door walls so they would would match the grain of the last sheet used for the outside - makes it look like you carved it out of wood (if you are no expert).