Custom Pickup Bed Sleep System

Hi everyone, recently a friend came to me with the desire to have a sleeping platform/truck bed organizer built for all of her adventures along with a space to sleep when her shift work schedule got crazy. We went back and forth sharing ideas and needs and what follows is what we came up with for the final design.

First of all was measuring the back of the truck for sizes. I could probably get a bit better organized with this, but some chicken scratch in the box of the truck sufficed.

Measuring the truck box and important camping equipment

Next I picked up some cabinet grade plywood and got to work. Because I knew I was going to be working with sheet goods I ended up purchasing a track saw for this job. A track saw makes quick work of breaking down sheet goods and is a lot easier than wrestling full sheets around on a small table saw like i own. The saw i picked up was a relatively cheap Wen model that worked surprisingly well and I’m glad I made the purchase. The accuracy of the cuts was impressive and to simply line up the edge of the track with your marks made it fast and easy to get the job done.

Putting the track saw to work

I used pocket holes and counter sunk screws to put it all together. I didn’t end up gluing anything in case down the road some changes were wanted (discussions of adding a heater or some other details were had).

The kreg pocket hole system makes building incredibly easy.

The bed box came together pretty quickly, I added a small cutout to access in front of the wheel well.

Bed box ready to install. If you look closely in the top corner you can see the cutout.

For the opposite side of the bed I build a vertical cubby box. The customer wanted some storage space with a little table kind of area to store stuff for easy access while inside the camper. Using the track saw and plunge feature I cut out a couple long openings with a a lip on the bottom to help hold things in and another cutout lower down to access in front of the wheel well.

Cubby side cabinet face

I boxed in the upper section but left the bottom free form to maximize the space in behind the divider.

Cubby boxed in and ready to install.

To secure it I found these pre-formed tabs from small barrel locks in my bins of randomness and they worked out perfectly to hook underneath the edge of the truck bed. I also used some small chain and a turn buckle to secure to the tie down point in the truck box.

holding tabs for the top edge of the cubby

The bed box was secured with the chain and turnbuckles as well, one in front and one in back. I angled them slightly to pull against each other which will help things from shifting around.

I build the drawer to fit the length of the bed, its about 26 inches wide and 6 feet long, a bit of a monster! I added some small bits of UHMW plastic on the sides at the back and offset some on the bed box in front to keep the side to side movement tight. I will add some full length strips of the same stuff to the bottom (likely 3 1-1/2″ strips) to cut down on friction and let the drawer move nice and smooth for years to some.

UHMW spacer at the front of the bed box
UHMW spacer at the top rear of the drawer

During the install of the two boxes I scribed and cut small areas to fit around the contours of the bed box. This allowed a more custom fit and kept things tight to the sides for a cleaner look overall.

Getting the boxes fitted in the truck

The final steps were to add the support rail for the bed filler on the cubby side. For this I just used a straight edge across from the bed and marked the other side. I screwed on a narrow strip of plywood from the back and it was ready to go. The filler panel was measured at the front and back as with all trucks the boxes are not totally sqaure and there was about 1 1/4″ difference to account for. Cutting a slight angle like this was no problem with the track saw either.

The completed project. Note you can see the chain and turnbuckle on the left side.

The customer is planning to add their own handles and latch to keep the drawer secure while driving. The option is also there down the road to customize the drawer further with dividers, partial top etc.

I like big drawers and I cannot lie.

Overall this was a super fun project with a couple learning challenges along the way which is never a bad thing! If you have any comments or ideas to improve on this please let me know! Or if you would like something like this built for yourself feel free to send me an email. I hope you enjoyed the build as much as I did!s

Simple Power Tool Work Bench

This blog comes from building the block bots you can find Here: https://coldstreamhobbyist.com/2019/12/16/block-bots-kids-toys/

I had a temporary setup on a table made from my Centipede folding work station and a piece of OSB. It worked but it was clunky and awkward. I needed both the drill press and mounted dual sander for that project back and forth. I had a feeling this will happen again in the future so it was time to give them a permanent home!

The old setup. Not the most efficient.

I started out by removing the stuff I had in place before, a small shelf and parts bin. Then I measured my material and available space. In order to fit the drill press without overhanging I needed 18 inches of depth and it worked out that 48 inches wide was good use of my 3/4 inch OSB.

Bench top framed out

I framed out the OSB with 2×4’s for rigidity and left the front board inset about 2 inches to allow for clamping to the edge. I have always found an overhang on a bench to be beneficial with no real downside thus far. I used 1 1/2 inch screws to put on the top and 3 inch screws for the framing.

Next I measured my height (39 inches in this case) and marked it on the wall. My garage was built by a crew of drunken sailors it seems as it is not level in any direction and the walls are crooked so I have learned to measure off what I have to work with and make it work. 39 inches seemed a good working height for me (I’m 6’2″) without extra bending.

Bench top secured to the wall

I secured the top to the wall with some screws and used a pipe clamp under the front to hold it square to the wall. Then I cut a 2×4 at a 45 degree angle and held it up against the outside to figure out the length I needed. Once the first one was cut and test fit I copied it for the second. I secured these to the underside of the bench and screwed directly into the wall. I have 3/4 inch plywood walls in my garage (highly recommend if you can swing it) but you can cut and add a 2×4 brace between the legs along the wall and screw into that for extra stability if you do not have that luxury.

45 degree braces

The next step was to layout the tools and hope everything would fit nice and tidy. The drill press and sander were priority but I also wanted to be able to bolt up my vise and bench grinder.

Laying out the tools for mounting

The vise and bench grinder are mounted to doubled up 3/4 inch plywood and hang on the wall when not in use. I normally would just clamp them to my bench and use as needed. With this bench I added T-nuts wherever the items will be bolted down. I simply placed the tools where they will be and marked through their mounting holes. next I drilled out 1/2 inch holes to fit the 3/16-16 T nuts. I used a corresponding bolt and large fender washer to pull the nuts into place with a ratchet.

T-Nuts being installed after layout

The T-Nuts allow you a simple secure way to hold your tools down while not needing access to the underside of the bench. Even though I have that access I chose to use them to steer clear of the hassle of threading nuts under the bench and all that.

I installed a board between a couple shelf brackets and mounted an LED strip light over the bench for some extra lighting and she’s done!

Overall I am happy with this bench, it could use some sanding or even some paint but the function is there and brings these very useful tools out from under my main work bench and into the spotlight.

Ford E-350 Tech Mount

Hello everyone! This project is going to cover building a custom technology mounting plate on the dash of my Ford e-350 van. I was inspired to do this as there is no really great place to hold my phone or GPS. It is built from a thin piece of aluminum and screwed into the plastic tabs of the dash. There are two Ram ball mounts and a GoPro mount to film travel clips in the future.

The stock dash tray

The above tray is not terrible but the coin tray is pointless and asking to get broken into if you use it to store money. I have a small LED/Reset button that was installed for my alarm system to contend with, you will probably not.

The tray removed and whats behind it, note the clip placements

There are 6 clips holding the tray in, I used a very small flat head screwdriver to undo these. Be patient and try not to scratch your dash, if you are worried there are specific tools available to undo these clips made of plastic. Behind the tray you’ll find a wiring harness plug in a dummy slot. removed this and stuff it back in the dash.

Fitting the cardboard template

I used the tray to trace out the size on a piece of cardboard. The face is rounded so it is a bit tricky to get a good trace so I ended up cutting it to fit right to the dash after getting close to the size. Using some painters tape on the aluminum sheet to mark the shape from the cardboard template and then cutting it out with a jigsaw.

Marked out and drilling

Using a bench top disc and belt sander I cleaned up the edges and shaped the corners of the plate. Next was to layout the Ram mount plates and GoPro mount, along with the holes for the mount screws and alarm LED.

Test fit after doing all the drilling and shaping

After a test fit it was time to paint it up using some gloss black metal paint. Once that dried I bolted the ram mounts on and stuck on the GoPro mount. I pre-drilled into the plastic mount tabs through the holes and used some small screws to secure it. Adding the ram arms with Quad lock phone mount and GPS and the project is complete!

ready to be mounted

This has streamlined my devices greatly and is completely universal and adjustable in almost endless ways. I highly recommend you give it a try for yourself! Even if you don’t own the same vehicle as me there is likely a way to build something similar for your vehicle.

The finished product
All loaded up

Happy making!

Block Bots Kids Toys

The block bots crew

Hey everyone! With the holidays around the corner I wanted to make some fun gifts for a few friends of mine, some with kids and some adults that are kids at heart. These block bots are made from recycled pallet wood and paracord.

First I began by cutting down and planing the boards to 2″x2″. I ripped the boards using my table saw but a bandsaw could also be used. I also cut down the stock for the arm and leg blocks at this time (about 7/8″ blocks).

Stock ready to be cut to length

I then cut my stock in half and used the table saw to cut the groove for the mouth which is about 1/8th inch deep on one piece. The second piece is left alone as the body has no details.

Setting up the saw to cut the mouth

Next I setup a stop block on my miter saw and cut the stock down to 2 inch blocks creating a 2x2x2″. I found out in short order when cutting such a small piece against a stop block you have to let the saw blade come to a complete stop before lifting or you will kick that block out in a hurry!

Miter saw setup with the stop block

Once I had all my blocks cut I quickly rounded over the corners on the sander and then to the drill press. I selected a bit big enough for the paracord to go through the hole doubled up but not so big a knot would pass through. I setup a fence and used stop blocks in order to drill out the eyes as well as the holes to run the cord through. Using the fence and stop blocks allowed me to keep my drilling uniform and helped control the small pieces.

Drill press setup

In the head I drilled both eyes ~1/8″ deep, through the head for the “ears”, up from below through the “neck” I drilled 3 holes wide into the “ears” hole to give me some extra room to fish the cord through. In the body I drilled two holes through the sides and then connected the top one with 3 wide to match the 3 wide drilled in the head.

to get the cord through these small holes I used a strong thin wire doubled up as a flexible needle to get through the corners. Feeding it through the ear, down, into the body and out the arm on the same side. The cord was tied off and an “arm” block was tied in. This was repeated on the other side and then the legs were simply a cord straight through and tied off with blocks. Trying to keep things tied fairly tight to the blocks in order to make them less floppy was also key.

The wire used to feed the cord through the bodies

The final step was to add a little paint to the eyes and mouth to liven them up! And there you have it, the block bot. These were fun to make and have received positive feedback so far. I would suggest making at least a few at a time to make it worth your while as they are a bit time consuming. Enjoy and I hope you have some fun creating your own bots!

Chillin’ in the shop

Parts Case Freedom

If you’re anything like me you are constantly looking to tweak your work space to be more efficient and organized. For years I have had about 8 parts cases stacked on various shelves around my shop, constantly pulling and lifting to get the case I want because it never seemed to be on the top of the pile. I decided it was time to dedicate some space to these cases and get them floating.

First off I measured my available shelving space and found that I could fit two cases side by side with a support down the middle of my 36 inch cabinet box; this couldn’t have worked out more perfectly and totally by chance. I then cut a piece of particle board to the desired depth and the height of the cabinet on the table saw. I squared this up and pre-drilled it before screwing it in place.

Squaring up the middle divider and securing

Following that I ripped a 1×2 in half and cut a bunch to the length of the center divider. I used 1×2 because they were cheap and I had a couple on hand but you could use any dimensional lumber and cut to the size you require. I pre-drilled all the screw holes at a decent distance from the ends to limit splitting (a few split but not enough to be unusable).

pre-drilled hanging strips

I put the first case on the bottom shelf and shimmed the next one with some 1/8th inch plywood. from there I measured to the small tabs sticking out on the sides of the case and added a 1/4 inch to be safe. This gave me enough room to easily pull out the above case without interfering with the one below.

Shimming and measuring the gap so the cases don’t interfere with each other.

then I marked that height on both sides of the opening and squared the strips using a speed square and secured them with 1 1/4 inch drywall screws. For light duty applications such as this drywall screws work well and are cheap. I continued with the shim measurement system for the next box up until I ran out of vertical space. I then continued to the next side of the shelf.

Installing the strips square to the cabinet
Hanger strips installed on one side

In total I fit 4 short and 3 tall boxes in a 36×15 cabinet and I probably have enough room for another tall box. The ease of removing only the one I need has been well worth the effort and would not hesitate to do it again. This project would cost very little if you can find the right cabinet to work with (my neighbour gave me this one) and will improve your work experience immensely. See below for a list (and some affiliate links) of what I used to make this project happen and let me know if you decide to tackle this for yourself!

The finished product with room for one more tall bin

Heavy Duty 20 Bin Portable Parts (Nuts, Bolts, etc.) Storage Organizer Case with Built-in Carrying Handle

DEWALT DWHT46031 Aluminum 7-inch Premium Rafter Square

SNUG Fasteners (SNG438) 215 Qty 8 x 1-1/4″ Sheetrock Drywall Screws – Phillips Bugle Head with Coarse Thread

Makita CT225R 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Compact Cordless 2-Pc. Combo Kit (2.0Ah)

Counter sink drill bit

OffroadingGear Maxgrips: First impressions

I found these traction pads on Amazon after poking my nose in and out for them for a while. They looked good and the price was right (a third of Maxtrax), lets see what they look like!

They come well packaged in heavy cardboard

They arrived within a few days (thanks to Amazon Prime) and undamaged. They were well packaged aside from the extra lugs and bolts being free in the box, which can easily lead to them getting lost, but the rest was very good. A funny thing to note is the truck featured on their graphics isn’t carrying their brand of traction pad.

Everything unwrapped

having a good look over the contents, the boards seem sturdy and well formed. The carry bag is typical Chinese quality and I would not recommend leaving out in the elements more than you have too. there is a full set of 8 extra lugs and bolts and two 2m (6 foot) recovery straps for when you’re in that extra deep mud. The sticker isn’t great quality, it peeled off after about 10 minutes (the shop was a bit chilly in it’s defense).

Each traction board measures 42″x12″ and a pair stacked is 5 inches high

The boards are quite rigid and rated for 9000Kg (enough for my 7300Kg 4×4 Ford e-350) but it should be noted that the cold rating at -20C is only 5000kg according to the manufacturer. That is still pretty darn good considering what cold does to the pliability of plastic.

Two Maxgrip traction pads stacked

the one thing I was hoping for was a little tighter stacking ability, maybe it’s just the pictures but Matrax seem to nest a lot better, allowing 4 to be stacked relatively thin. These stack at 5 inches tall for 2 and 8 1/4 inches for 4. That is quite the bulky tower of traction hanging off any part of your vehicle.

Don’t get me wrong, I lust for the latest and greatest gear, but sometimes the cost is just to high (remember the rent is too damn high guy?). Maxtrax are the be all end all of traction pads according to Instagram, and I have no doubt they are a fantastic product, The issue is ~$300 CAN a pair for something that is just looking pretty on your roof rack until you are going to be abusing under the wheels of your vehicle. Many will say you get what you pay for but I feel like these are a little more disposable and even the best will get damaged with use. It helps that you can pickup a few sets before you reach Maxtrax price and 4 is better than 2 any day on the trail.

I am looking forward to getting out in some deep snow and giving these a real world test in the coming months so stay tuned! And if you’re interested in a pair or two for yourself you can follow the affiliate link below!

Offroading Gear MaxGrip Tire Traction Pads with Leash and Carrying Bag (2 Recovery Boards) – for Snow/Mud/Ice/Sand

Welcome!

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Calvin de Boer and I reside in beautiful Coldstream British Columbia, Canada. I have lived throughout a few different regions of BC and finally landed in the Okanagan valley, or Canada’s California as it can be called. It is known for amazing lakes and mountains, fishing, skiing and everything in between.

This blog is intended to be an insight into my usual (or unusual) activities and projects I do. I want to share it with everyone as a way to show others that any project is possible with a little ingenuity and knowledge. I hope to share my knowledge (or where I learned it) and help others learn along the way.

I plan to share my adventures of overlanding and travel along with my other hobbies and DIY. I hope you will join me and find this helpful in your own lives!