How to Build a Pickup Truck Bed Cover from Plywood?

The plywood truck bed cover is now trending. Factory-made tonneau covers are pretty expensive. But we wanted a hard tonneau cover for our truck bed yet not expensive. So we decided to make a wooden truck bed cover on our own with some simple DIY steps. Even if, you have less knowledge of carpentry and construction, you can build a wooden truck bed cover. In a nutshell, it is drilling holes into the metal of the bed itself and installing hinges to attach to a large piece of plywood.

To start with the DIY process you will require below-listed materials. All items are easily available in Amazon. After getting all the items you are good to start.

Items you will need:

  1. Piece of 3/4-inch plywood, 4-by-8 foot
  2. 8-foot pieces of 2-by-4 (3)
  3. Measuring tape
  4. Circular saw
  5. 1/4-inch bolts, 3 inches long (8)
  6. 1 by 4 -inch fender washers (16)
  7. 1/4-inch locking washers (8)
  8. T-hinges (3)
  9. 1-inch wood screws
  10. Drill with the 1/4-inch metal bit
  11. Screwdriver Bit
  12. Skill saw with the metal cutting blade
  13. Pop rivets and rivet gun
  14. Drill and drill bits
  15. Piano hinge
  16. Stapler
  17. Spray glue
  18. Contact glue
  19. Primer color

Step 01. Start the DIY project

Start the DIY project by taking the measurements of the truck bed. You need to build two frames using the plywood.  Fix one frame with the truck bed, and the other one will act as liftable tonneau cover. The get the perfect frame fitting, each frame should sit within the bed with about 1.5 cm of space on each side between the bed and the frame. The frame has a vital role. The frame will give the structural strength to the cover, and used to secure the cover to the truck bed.

Step 02. Figure out the Planning

Using circular cutting saw, cut two pieces of 2 by 4 with equal the length of the bed. cut one piece of 2/4 which equals the width of the bed at the cab. Also, cut one piece of plywood in ¾ inch which is equal to the dimension of the truck bed. Before fixing it to the truck draw a rough sheet and figure out the planning. You have the previously took measurements, use those measurements and draw a pattern on the 4/8 foot plywood. sketch the mark you need to cut and cut along your sketch lines.

Step 03. Draw rough lines

Take a pencil to draw, rough lines on the plywood to get the cutting lines. Measure ¾ inches down from the top of the side edges of the truck bed and draw a line with the pencil. This line will be of 2/4 length pieces. To get the perfect cutting and fitting measure one foot along the line you just made toward the center from both the cab and the gate. Mark one inch apart. For the 2/4 pieces, those marks are the location of the holes you will drill and should be approximately one inch below the line. Mark eight places, two per end on both ends of each side of the bed.

Step 04. Start drilling holes

Make holes with the help of the drilling machine through the side of the bed. And use ¼ inch metal drill right on to the marks you made earlier. Note here, to measure one foot along the four-inch side of each of the side pieces 2/4. Make marks which correspond to the holes you drilled in the truck bed. Also, drill holes through the 2/4 side pieces.

Step 05. Place Everything

Now it’s time to place everything. You will need a fender washer. Attach the side pieces first. Take the side pieces of the truck bed and place 2/4 over the area with the holes. Take fender washers over the holes between the 2/4 and the truck bed. Place the second washer over the hole from the other side of the board. Use a locking washer over the fender washer and place the bolt of 3inch in the 2/4 to attach it to the truck. Do the same bolt fixing with the rest eight holes. Completely fastening the side rails to the truck bed. Note here the rails should sit ¾ of an inch below the top of the bedside.

Step 06. Brace for the cover Piece

After all, work finishes a T shaped frame you can see. Cut a 2/1 notch in both ends of the piece of 2/4 size of the bed width. The T shape will fit on top of the side rails and be even with the top of the bed. The Cover piece is known as a brace.

Step 07. Screw the Side Rails

Now screw the piece to the side rails using a screw-driven through each side of the brace piece and into the side rails.

Step 08. Screw the T hinges

Screw the T hinges into the cover brace. Attach the piece of plywood to the hinges so it creates a bed lid that swings up towards the cab. When closed, the lid should completely cover the bed. The top of it should be even with the top of the bed.

Tips

  • Many trucks have already factory drilled holes in the bed. So, use those holes instead of drilling new holes and attach the side rails on it.
  • Doing additional installation like weatherproofing, or any other coating. It should do according to your choice.

Warning

  • You must take measurements of all four sides of the truck bed. Some truck beds are not a uniform width; and if you only take a length and width measurement, your lid may not fit.

Painting the plywood truck bed cover (optional):

This is completely upon you if you want to paint it or not.

Material Needed:

  1. Primer
  2. Paint Brush
  3. Color paint
  4. Sealer paint

Step 01. Prime the Plywood cover

Before painting prime the wooden bed: it helps paint achieve a uniform and good look. Apply the first coat of primer on the wood. Let it dry completely before applying the next coat. We suggest to use an oil-based primer is it will last long.

Step 02. Painting the plywood cover

To paint you need a good quality paint color and brush. Last, load the paintbrush with paint color and start painting in a manner. In a good interval of time apply three to four coats of the color. Likewise, the color choice is up to you.

Step 03. Sealer Coat

At last, apply up to three coats of sealer or topcoat of polyurethane. It may take some time to dry completely. Repeat the steps until the desired consistency is achieved.

Plywood cover waterproofing:

Plywood is a laminated material that accepts waterproofing easily. When plywood is used in outdoor activities, waterproofing prolongs its life. Plywood is made by gluing layers of wood together and lastly with finishing. And the layers are vulnerable to water damage. If to slowly rot your plywood cover is exposed to excessive rainwater, the glues disintegrate and cause the wood to slowly rot and the layers to peel apart. There is a wide range of waterproofing materials are available, which are easy to apply and dry within a few hours. There are materials available that are transparent in color and do not change the appearance of the product.

To have the best waterproofing, select the waterproofing products which are specially made for plywoods. We used Deck waterproofing. The Deck waterproofing is very convenient easy to apply and it dries quickly. However, this kind of waterproofing needs services on a timely basis, Meaning you need to apply a coat on a particular time interval. Likewise, if you find the surface is for deck, in this case, you need to provide a waterproofing material with an oil base.

Getting it to The Assembly Line

Assemble all the material to complete the procedure. You need to take extra care while applying to waterproof on plywood levels. sawhorse is very much useful and easy. It’s a good practice to apply to the waterproof outside because the fumes evaporate and do not concentrate inside the garage.

You need to apply to waterproof according to the area and size of the container. If the outer part of the plywood containing the container is decorative, and you need to clean the plywood with the help of a cloth and rub it with grit sandpaper to smooth the surface.wait for some time to dry.

Now apply the waterproofing. The material can be linseed oil. However, it will be easy to apply to waterproof with the help of a brush. Apply all the corners, edges, sides of the plywood. It will provide a good look and feel.

Advantages of Plywood.

01. Quality of Plywood

Plywood is made up of a strong material such as strong woods/hardwoods instead of softwoods. There are 3 layers associated with plywood. These are nothing but wood grain patterns. It’s very easy to tear an individual layer and its very difficult to tear the bunch. This is the reason while making the plywood are arranged in this sort of order. They are arranged layer by layer. The grain pattern is placed in alternate layers so that plywood gets stronger material.

02. BWR Grad

Plywoods are the best material for making the truck bed as well as exterior furniture. Furthermore, plywood comes with different quality and different grades such as MR grade which a type of moisture resistance. Its mainly used for interior designing. There is another quality of plywood is available in the market. i.e boiling water resistance grade, in other words, its called as  BWR grade. Secondly, the furniture which gets wet frequently such as in the kitchen or in the garden is mostly used of BWR grade. On the other hand, furniture used in a bedroom or living room is made up of MR grade plywood. Consequently, cheaper plywoods such as particleboards are used for indoor use only.

03. Availability of Sizes

These are plentily available in the market with different sizes with nice looks. Search for a nicely uniformed thickness of 16or 18 mm plywood sheet size varying from 8’x4’ (8 feet x 4 feet).

Because of its size, it becomes popular in the market and industry. In fact, these long and quality engineered plywoods become the most usable product while working for ay interior or exterior design. Plywood is useful in various applications in comparison to solid wood.

04. Economically it’s much Beneficial

Some plywoods are eye-catching for their beauty and they are costly too. The interiors of the plywoods are composed in such a way that they are strong and their outer layer also has a good look and feel. Some plywoods are a mixture of quality and are also a less stronger product compared to other plywoods. These are purely for interior designing purposes.

05. Availability of varieties of Plywoods

Similarly, several kinds of plywoods are available in the market today. It’s known as bendy-ply or in other words, we can say it’s flexible plywood. It can be used in different ways based on the size area of usages, it can roll twist and bend. It’s mainly used for interior design and home decor purposes. It is widely used nowadays all over the world.

06. No wastage of Wood

The plywood making process has less wastage of tree logs. Comparing with the process of acquiring solid wood blocks it is less wastage.there are two types of cut one is rotary cut and another is slice cut. Both methods of making veneers do not produce too much waste. We can utilize more parts of the trees logs.

07. Numbers of Application

It is a versatile material that has numbers of application. So many sectors prefer plywood. In our homes as well as in several industrial and structural applications; like concrete shuttering plywood, marine plywood for boat making, etc.

08. In terms of Durability

Talking about the durability plywood made items made from good quality hardwood like teak or gurjan wood is more durable and lasts for many long years. In comparison to long solid wood pieces, it is much better. Cheaper particleboard items, which eventually need to be replaced.

09. Less costly compared to solid wood

Solid wood is a natural product and better but in terms of money, it is very costly. Whereas the plywood cost is lower in comparison. So, on a reasonable trade-off for most people is to opt for decent quality plywood to meet their requirements.

Disadvantages of plywood:

01. MR grade plywood Disadvantages

Water can damage plywoods badly. Once the plywoods get exposure to water, It starts changing its shapes. This will overcome by using BWR waterproofing.

02. Sagging when Bigger pieces in Use

The plywood can be saggy when it is used in terms of big in size. Hence it’s not considered to use in applications such as the making of front doors, panels, benches, wardrobes, etc. Plywood has a tendency to sag or bend from the middle, to overcome this kind of issue it’s advisable to use block board which is cheaper and is better in these kinds of scenarios.

03. Difficult to analyze the quality of Sheets

It’s very difficult to judge the quality of a plywood sheet whether it’s made up of good grains and it has good layers in it. As a result customer you will face difficulties in terms of choosing the best quality materials, the reason being you can’t identify which wood is used for making the plywood. The outer layer looks beautiful but you can hardly find out the inner layers. In the market all types of plywoods are available. Locally made plywoods are cheaper but it’s your decision to choose the branded items. It’s very important to choose the trusted sites if you are buying it online and make sure you choose the correct ones

04. Requires additional Enhancements

Locally made or low-cost plywoods need additional enhancements. Solid woods has its own look and feel but commercial plywoods need extra care such as lamination or a coat. Coating the plywood with lamination or coating with a laminate sheet it enhances its water-resistance properties.

05. Edges also need extra Care

Laminating the surface would suffice the requirement however .covering the corners and edges also required. You can glue the wooden strips over them so that it would look better.

06. Much costlier compared to particleboard or blackboard

In comparison to blockboards or particle boards plywood is much costlier because it includes both material cost as well as carpentry cost. Those who wonder for short term truck beds solutions they can buy readymade plywood such as particleboard and MDF.

07. Manual  activity and process needs Time

Truck beds should create with the help of plywood. Making a truck bed is not a one-day activity it’s a time-consuming process. If you need to go for a hassle-free installation process and not ready to do manual activities such as creating by your own truck bed. There are a lot of readymade truck beds available in the market you can opt for those.

08. Glues or adhesives can damage the Material

The adhesives used may be ecologically damaging. The important segment of the plywood is to check which type of chemical glue is used to stick with other plywood. You should not use adhesives such as Urea-formaldehyde and phenolic resins. It is polluting the environment The plywood which follows all safety instructions should use and considered.

09.  Not replaceable by solid wood

Plywood has no comparison with solid wood. Solid wood is always dense and heavier in nature whereas plywood not but yes the most plus points is it cost lesser than any other wood.

Safety Measure while working with plywood.

First of all, plywood is a great material because of its size and quality also plays an important role. As well as getting quality plywood also becomes a challenge nowadays. First, you need to find how much weight plywood would be. A full sheet of plywood ideal sized is 10ftx5ft. It’s very difficult to move this amount of plywood. For instance, many adults try to move the plywood with moderate effort. Likewise, the best way of moving the plywood would be teamwork. However many do it by themselves. There are some ideas to move the large-sized plywoods. Below are a few options for you.

  1. Use a rolling cart.
  2. Use ropes to move the plywood sheets

If your requirements don’t demand new big sheets then cut it into smaller pieces to move towards your destinations or shops or homes.

Cutting Risks:

Cutting Plywoods is never a big task, though you can opt for safety measures. Different types of saws are available however its big safety risks. Working with a larger sheet of plywood may increase the risk level. You can always take the help of someone for cutting the material, at least for ripping the large sheet into smaller pieces or blocks. You need to opt for different safety measures such as good saws, goggles, and respirators. Moreover, be sure with the type of saw you are using for cutting purposes. If possible use rotary saw to cut. Use proper safety measures while dealing with the cutting of plywoods. Finally, use tables to cut the plywoods. Put the plywood on top of the table. Next, mark wherever required and with the help of gloves, Saw and goggles you are ready to go for the job.

Dust:

Moreover, most of the carpenters /woodworkers wear goggles that keep their eyes safe from dust and debris. However many don’t seek attention to these kinds of protections. Cutting plywoods creates dust, inhaling which may cause different respiratory problems such as mild throat irritations, asthma, etc. if it continues then it will get worse at a later point of time. As many plywood workers work indoors, dust easily accumulates on surfaces. Then you could use a dust mask to avoid inhaling the dust. It’s available in the market at a low price.

Safety is a Must  for Great Results:

Next, adhering to the safety measures of handling the plywood cutting process will result in a great outcome. Besides doing shortcuts are easy but safety is necessary.

Related Questions:

Can I Do This DIY for Old Trucks?

Yes, you can do this for any truck. Although you can install a wooden truck bed in new trucks as well. As a result, wooden truck beds are more durable and will last longer than you think.

Is Flooring Really Necessary?

To protect the wooden truck, flooring is necessary. It will act like a weatherproof.

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