Building an SUV bed platform with no woodworking experience

30 day challenge Sep 26, 2021

Recently, my YouTube feed has been filled with sprinter van/SUV conversions. After watching those videos, I started imagining what I could do with a bed platform in my vehicle. This would make car camping and road-tripping so nice. I could pull up to any spot, pull out my gear, and then climb into my bed inside my vehicle at night. And so, I began the design process and sketched out my ideas.

Sketch of my initial design
I wanted the platform to fit into my trunk when collapsed

Diving in with no experience

The sketching part was fun. I like drawing and thinking through how I could create this idea. However, I was a little nervous about moving forward and actually building the platform. I have never built anything on my own unless you count the wooden car back in 5th grade. Even that was heavily supervised by our woodworking teacher.  All I had was a toolbox, an electric drill, and no experience. I was wondering how the hell I was going to pull this off.

So, I turned to my resident design and building expert, my mom. A little background first. My childhood home is basically a living Pinterest board because of every unique piece she has added. From the magnetic shelves that hold the spice jars to the photo holders made from pallet boards, I am constantly amazed by her creations. She even built a teardrop camper from scratch! I knew I could lean on her expertise. Check out this pool stick and ball holder she made for our friends' bar.

I walked through my design over the phone with her, and we made a few small adjustments here and there. Having someone to ask questions and bounce ideas off was so helpful in planning this out and making me more comfortable in my ability to build this.

My mom's design of my sketch with a few alterations

The journey begins

Designing and planning done. Now it was time to begin building. I remeasured my car to be safe and made a list of supplies I needed. Then, I was off to Home Depot to gather materials. One super cool perk about buying plywood from Home Depot is that they will cut it for you. This was a HUGE plus considering I do not have a saw and am building this platform out of my apartment.

Fast forward, I am now about 2/3 of the way done and could not be happier with how the build is going. Here are a few learnings/mistakes that might entertain you.

  • Make sure you know what you need when going to a hardware store. I had my measurements right, but I told the employee I needed my plywood cut to 32 inches when it was supposed to be 30... Luckily I went back and they cut it again for me.
  • Pilot holes make drilling in screws soooo much easier.
  • Wood glue is not fun to get out of the carpet. Should have put something down.
  • 2x4 boards are not actually 2 inches by 4 inches! What the hell is up with that?!?  
  • Metal carpenter's square > plastic one. Spend the extra money because a hand saw will shave off plastic but not metal...

Final thoughts

Even though I had no experience at the beginning of this project, I have had a lot of fun along the way. This is usually not like me because I like to research and plan and figure everything out before. Sometimes though, jumping right in and getting your hands dirty is the best way to learn. Also, just like I asked my mom, don't be afraid to ask those around you for help! Admitting you don't know how to do something isn't always the easiest, but you may be surprised with what you will gain from doing so.

Currently, 2/3 of the pieces are together and I just attached the hinge

I will be sure to be checking in with updates on how the build is going. Make sure to subscribe to me on YouTube too because I will be posting a video recapping the entire process once I am finished!


Interested in following along with my journey more or connecting with me? Make sure to follow me on my socials!

Until next time!

-Hawkin

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Hawkin Saeger

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