Gear Trucks

Build Your Own Truck Box

Here's a waterproof container that fits any pickup bed.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

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This truck box is designed for hauling camp gear, tools and guns in an open pickup truck bed. It is four feet long and will fit in even the smallest truck beds. For additional security the box can also be bolted or chained to the truck bed. It’s built to be waterproof; the box uses the same materials I use on boats and is designed to withstand exposure to the elements.

The lid is reinforced to support weight when opened, and in camp the box can be used as a table or workspace for food preparation. Two cleats on the bottom of the box elevate it slightly off the ground to keep it dry on wet and muddy surfaces.

The design is very flexible. The interior can be compartmentalized for specific items; guns can be further protected by installing gun hooks along the interior sides of the box to accommodate soft cases. The box is built of 3/8-inch-thick AA marine-grade plywood, but almost any grade of plywood can be used. You can use screws to construct the box, but it is simpler to use the epoxy method because it doesn’t require corner cleats or fastenings.

All plywood surfaces are sealed with two coats of epoxy. The interior corners are reinforced with a bead or fillet of thickened epoxy while the exterior corners are rounded and covered with 2-inch-wide fiberglass tape.

[pagebreak] Custom Cut to Fit
As when building any box, do not cut all the plywood panels from a cutting list. Thickness of different materials will change measurements and cause errors to accumulate. Instead, start by cutting the bottom panel first, then cut each successive piece to fit, measuring as you go. A framing square and ballpoint pen are best for marking.

**Glue it Up **
Cut out and glue the sides to the bottom. If you want a wider or longer box, adjust the bottom size accordingly.

Apply epoxy to all mating surfaces. Fit them in place and leave them overnight to cure. Sliding clamps come in handy to hold pieces in place for the glue-up. Weights can also be used, since epoxy requires only minimal clamping pressure. Self-tapping drywall screws also work well. (Remove the screws once the epoxy cures.)

Before you add the top panel, apply a small bead of epoxy to the inside of all corners to reinforce the box.

[pagebreak] Attach the Top
Glue 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch cleats around the top inside perimeter of the box to provide additional gluing surface for the top panel.

Glue on the top, then place weights atop the panel and let it stand overnight. After the epoxy cures, trim the edges and round the box corners.

Apply 2-inch-wide fiberglass tape to all corners. For a tougher box, you can apply fiberglass cloth to all exterior surfaces.

Cut the door opening in the top and glue 3/4- by 3/4-inch cleats around the perimeter, under the plywood top.

Apply coamings around the perimeter. Add a small bead of thickened epoxy around the coamings to ensure that they’re watertight.

**Add the Door **
Make a starter hole with your drill, then use a jigsaw to rough-cut the plywood door panel. Be sure to allow at least 1 inch of overhang all the way around the door coamings.

Glue on the door edges, leaving at least 1/16-inch clearance all the way around so the door will not rub when opened. Round the edges with a file and sand them smooth. Finally, seal the inside and outside surfaces of the door with epoxy.

install the Hardware Apply a spacer cleat and install the brass piano hinge. Attach optional lock hasps and lifting handles to the sides. Add internal compartment dividers or gun holders as needed. Note: You can attach 20-inch lengths of 3/4- by 2-inch cleats to the bottom of the box to elevate it slightly.

**Finishing touches **
Sand and file off rough selvage edges of fiberglass tape. Wash the box with soap and water, then scrub the outtside surfaces with a dry dish scrubber. Paint or varnish to suit.

For detailed building plans for previous boat projects, go to butler or contact Paul Butler, P.O. Box 1917, Port Angeles, WA 98362;