If you’re the type of person who loves to pick up and go camping at a moment’s notice, this project is for you!
This week, we’re joined in the DIY studio by our friend and Dunn Lumber employee, Max, to build a truck camper bed with storage. Max works in our corporate office and, in his free time, loves exploring the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors, particularly through camping. After getting a new truck a couple of years ago, he got into truck camping—where he heads out somewhere interesting then camps, sleeping in the bed of the truck. While it’s a convenient way to explore, sleeping on the hard, ridged pickup bed surrounded by loose gear wasn’t comfortable. His design for this simple yet highly functional truck bed camper platform makes it easier to contain and organize his gear while providing a more even, comfortable, and surprisingly warmer spot to roll out a sleeping mat.
While we’ve provided a cut list with measurements to work from, every truck model is different, so you can customize the project to fit your truck, space, and preferences.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Measure truck bed
This project is meant to fit your truck so, naturally, the first step is measuring the length (from the front to back of the bed) and width of your truck bed to determine the dimensions of your bed camper. We built the platform to fit in between the wheel wells, so we measured the width from the inside of one wheel well to another.
Also, measure from the truck bed up to your canopy. The top of the truck camper bed with storage opens up, so you want to ensure you have enough space to open the platform doors without hitting your canopy.
Step 2: Cut wood
For this project, we used white wood for the frame and ACX plywood for the doors. We chose ACX ply because it has one rough face and one sanded face, and the sanded face will be less likely to cause rips in sleeping bags and pads.
To cut, clamp the boards in place and use a circular saw. Be sure to use eye and ear protection.
Based on the measurements of Max’s 2018 Ford F150, this is the cut list:
From the 10-foot two-by-twelves:
- 3 pieces to 60"
- 2 pieces to 48"
- 4 pieces to 21.5"
Doors the four-by-eight sheet of plywood:
- 2 pieces to 24" x 63"
Because your vehicle’s measurements may be slightly different than those above, we will reference the piece numbers (A1, A2, B1, etc.) throughout the project for consistency and ease if you want to reproduce the project.
Step 3: Sand cut edges
Use sandpaper to smooth the cut edges of all the pieces. We used 120-grit sandpaper and a sanding block, though you could use a power sander, too.
Step 4: Prepare frame ends
Grab Pieces A1 and A2 (both 48”). Place Piece A1 face down on your workspace. Measure ½” in from each end and draw straight lines from edge to edge. Mark four points at equal intervals along the lines for pilot holes.
Then, find the center of Piece A1 (at 24”), draw a line from edge to edge, and mark four points at equal intervals along the line. Repeat for Piece A2.
Drill pilot holes through all marked points on Pieces A1 and A2 with a 7/64” drill bit, and set them aside. Be sure not to drill into your work surface. You can use clamps if need be.
Step 5: Prepare frame sides and center
Grab Pieces B1, B2, and B3 (all 60”). Place Piece B1 face down on your workspace. Measure and make marks along the long edge at 20” and 40”, and then draw straight lines from edge to edge at each mark.
Line up a 2 x 4 bracket on one line, flush with the edge of the board. Make two marks where the screw holes are, remove the bracket, and drill pilot holes with a 1/16” drill bit partway through the wood (don’t drill all the way through!). Repeat for the other line, and then repeat for Piece B2.
Place Piece B3 face down on your workspace. Again, measure and make marks along the long edge at 20” and 40”and then draw straight lines from edge to edge at each mark. Line up a 2 x 4 bracket on one line, flush with the edge of the board. Mark the screw holes and then drill pilot holes completely through the width of the board with your 1/16” drill bit, creating pilot holes on both sides of the board. Repeat for the other line.
Note: In order to not drill all the way through the first two boards (B1 and B2), we used masking tape on our drill bit as a makeshift depth stop or drill stop. See how we did it in the photos below.
Step 6: Fasten brackets
Line up your brackets with the pilot holes on Pieces B1 and B2 and fasten them with ¾” screws.
For Piece B3, line up your brackets with the pilot holes and fasten them with ¾” screws. Flip Piece B3 over and fasten the remaining brackets with ¾” screws. Because there are brackets on the other side of Piece B3, you may need to hang part of the board off your workstation and clamp it down.
Step 7: Assemble frame
Lay Piece A1 (48”) on its edge with drawn lines facing towards the inside. Lay Pieces B1, B2, and B3 on their edges perpendicular to Piece A1—you’ll want the edges with brackets down on the ground and the board with double-sided brackets (B3) in the middle (see diagram below).
Line up the edge of Piece B1 with the pilot holes on Piece A1 and fasten together with four 3” screws. Use a speed square in the corners to make sure they’re square. Repeat with Pieces B2 and B3.
Take Piece A2 and line it up on the opposite end of the frame with drawn lines facing towards the inside. Fasten to Pieces B1, B2, and B3 with 3” screws.
Now you have your frame!
Step 8: Fasten hinges to plywood
Grab your plywood. Lay Piece D1 sanded face down on the newly created frame. Measure 6” from each end and place a T-Hinge. Find the center and place a T-Hinge there as well. Make marks for pilot holes, then repeat for Piece D2.
Use a 1/16” drill bit to drill pilot holes for the hinges in Pieces D1 and D2. Only drill partway through the wood, using a depth stop if needed.
Leaving Pieces D1 and D2 sanded face down, fasten hinges to the rough face of the plywood using ¾” screws.
Step 9: Fasten plywood to frame
Flip Pieces D1 and D2 over so the sanded faces point up. Take Piece D1 and line up the edge with hinges to the long edge of the frame and fasten with ¾” screws.
Take piece D2 and line up the edge with the hinges on the opposite long edge of the frame and fasten with ¾” screws.
You now have working doors.
Step 10: Insert dividers
Drop Pieces C1-C4 (all 21.5” divider boards) into the brackets to create separate storage areas.
Step 11: Add door pulls
To create a way to open the doors without difficulty, drill two thumb holes into one end of each door with a spade bit or tri-flute bit. We used a 1" tri-flute bit.
Sand the drilled holes so you don’t give yourself a splinter! You can also add a piece of rope knotted on either side of the holes to create a door pull.
Step 12: Load the platform, and head out into the wilderness!
You’re all set—your DIY truck camper bed with storage is finished. Lift the platform into the bed of your truck with the swing doors facing up. Load in your gear and go out on an adventure.
We love camping here at Dunn DIY and have a variety of other camping DIY projects in our archives. Looking for more storage options? Check out how to make a super-useful camp kitchen box or simple camping storage crate. Take pride in your camp setup? Build your own folding camping table and matching folding camping stools.