Wooden Flatbed Truck Conversion


This pickup truck to flatbed conversion is very impressive. [Caswell_Etheredge] says he was channeling his inner redneck. That must mean rednecks in his area are craftsmen of the highest caliber.

He wanted a bit more flexibility on the size and shape of the cargo he was able to haul. Just six lag bolts held the original stamped steel bed on the truck. A bit of work with a pipe and a breaker bar did the trick. A mess of packed on mud and grime was there to greet him. After chipping, vacuuming, and power washing the underbody he gave it a fresh paint job using an undercoating product.

From there the wood flatbed build starts, and he’s not messing around with scrap wood. What you can see of the bed is fashioned from cedar and ipe. The underpinnings which fasten to the frame with those same six lag bolts are pressure treated 2×4 boards. The 4×6 bumper includes the license plate and lights for it. Brake and turn signals are built into the bed along with cleats for easy fastening of a tarp or to secure the cargo.

[via Reddit]

55 thoughts on “Wooden Flatbed Truck Conversion

      1. I think it was a compliment.

        Anyway, might want to patch that split in the fuel filler hose with a ton of silicone while you can still get to it, if you have to go in there again. It will eventually split to the point that it becomes hard to fill up at the pump. It’s a $200 part, new, and junkyard parts won’t help because this is a very common failure.

        Nice job, though. I bet it rides better with the extra weight.

          1. That what I was thinking, just get the proper fill hose, the money saved with a hacked repair may end up costing much more than doing a proper repair. Not mention that Gasoline & RTV don’t get along very well together. Increasing the chance that a failure of the hacked repair will go unnoticed until debris that enters to tank kills the fuel pump.

        1. Ooooh… I get it. As a maker, I’m used to hearing “it looks handmade” as a criticism (in the cases of some products, such criticism is very, very warranter, but certainly not all). I’ll go forward with the assumption that Louis was giving a compliment… something about always assuming the best comes to mind. My apologies!

    1. It’s behind the cab so it makes literally no difference, this is the same chassis and cab as a ford ranger, I put a 302ci and swapped ranger parts on one about this year once in my late teens(10+ years ago).

      This looks like stained 2x or hardwood. I’ve seen wood beds with almost flawless woodburn art and a lot of functionality before. I don’t know if it’s DOT approved though. If you poly hardwood or use composites they last decades..

      I never quite understood why you would want a flat bed unless it’s a car hauler, you’re sacrificing storage and hauling capabilities.. I can kind of see it for horse people and farmers hauling round and square bells in the field or slide loading tanks. You haul something on the road with one it’s asking for a ticket or an accident..

      1. The most popular form of vehicle for transport of large items* are flatbeds. The reason for this is because it is incredibly easy to strap stuff down on flatbeds.

        Another way to think of it is this: when you are traveling behind a flatbed those straps over the load are expected to hold the load onto the bed in-case of a partial rollover accident. Trucks that have ‘traditional’ pickup beds have nothing stopping the load from being ejected except gravity. Finally, box trucks or ‘vans’ may or may not have much of anything except their incredibly weak walls securing the load within. They usually are supposed to, but how can anyone tell?

        So the idea that someone operating a flatbed is asking for a ticket or accident is as silly as saying passengers not using their seat-belts are safer than ones riding in a convertible but are using seat-belts.

        *large as defined by taking up most or all of the space available on the transport.

        1. “Another way to think of it is this: when you are traveling behind a flatbed those straps over the load are expected to hold the load onto the bed in-case of a partial rollover accident.”

          I think the greater concern is things sliding off while the truck is moving normally. It wouldn’t be hard to carelessly strap down a load such that it seems secure, but actually some items aren’t.

          1. You do realize that many commercial outfits convert trucks to flatbeds for fleet lines all the time right? you are arguing a moot point about loads on a flat bed.

          2. If straps aren’t enough, add a bit of hardware and make it a stake truck. Sides could be fence-like or low profile and solid, maybe made from 2 x 12’s. That’s belt and suspenders. I’m getting ready to convert my 2001 F-150 to get the increased cargo capacity and lose the rusty rear body panels. I’m also going to build a removable box that locks down to the bed for things that don’t get along well with inclement weather. Not full size, just 3 or 4 by 5 maybe. For anything bigger, there’s tarps, but three pieces of 8 foot 1-by-something would be easy enough to screw together for a long-stock cover. That all should be flexible enough for my needs.

      2. Flatbeds are great if you are hauling lumber. You can put it on and take it off with a forklift very quick and easy. (being mindful of weight limits naturally!) Also pallets of pellets or machinery or about a hundred other items come to mind…..

  1. Redneck engineering with class, nice! I saw something similar on the road a long time ago, the “Toyoaka” painted on the back gave me a laugh.

    I wonder though if it’s street legal to have a wooden bumper, or one covered with wood.

    1. I would say covered yes, made of no. Generally speaking (since I only know local laws..) you aren’t allowed to modify any piece of safety equipment on a vehicle. Since the “bumper” on most cars is actually under a plastic cover, re-covering with wood probably makes no difference.

      1. As long as it meets the DOT and state requirements for collision requirements it’s legal. You can certainly get aftermarket bumpers, bodies, etc, or replace any part as long as it meets legal requirements.

  2. not that the bumper doesn’t look great, but why not use the original one? not sure how the laws are in NC but in Illinois you almost have to use a railroad tie as a bumper to allow for a wooden one. Funny story, how i know that. Once knew a guy who used a 2×6 for a bumper, cop told him he couldn’t wasn’t strong enough to withstand a front end collision. Said friend took it off and bolted on a railroad tie that was laying in his back yard. Lulz ensued when the cop pulled him over again. Cop said that’s not what he meant, and expected a new bumper on the front of the truck. My friend told him he couldn’t afford one. Cop told him he wouldn’t pull him over for it anymore, but couldn’t promise outside of town. mfw we went through ESTL with country blaring too loud.

  3. Personal preferences aside, it is a nice job. Knowing rednecks, I’m guessing the old bed is now a trailer. Just one issue I see…if he is really looking to use it for cargo, it seems like a bit of a waste to scratch up that pretty wood.

    1. “very lame.”

      Your opinion, nothing wrong with that.

      “and not a hack.”

      Well let’s see…he wanted a flatbed for his truck and couldn’t find/couldn’t afford a commercial solution, so he hacked together his own. The vast majority of posts on this site are by people who wanted something they couldn’t find or afford commercially so they hacked together a solution.

      But hey, it doesn’t have an Arduino/RPi/LED so it’s not a hack, right?

  4. Since it wasn’t posted, (http://www.reddit.com/r/woodworking/comments/1ihush/wooden_flatbed_project_my_inner_redneck/) reddit link<<<

    He did it because he needed to run large items and a flat bed suited his purposes well. If you look at the pictures he actually has four slots on the sides for adding railings, if needed.

    It's in North Carolina, for you law-breaker-yellers, if you wanted to know. He seems aware of what the law is and probably is using this on private property. The bumper has, "… a 4×6 pine treated beam under it.."" I dunno, if something hits the 4×6 with enough force to remove it a piece of steel wouldn't stop it. The weak point would be if someone hit it on the side and it broke from the bolts."

    "Going to build some custom things for it, wooden toolbox that will attach next to the cab and a wood vice for starters"

  5. My brother used to live in NC, and based on the condition of some of the vehicles he drove back then, I’d say the only requirement for passing the NC vehicle inspection is (or at least was) an even number of wheels. And I expect they made exceptions for 3-wheeled bikes.

  6. If it isn’t approved by NHTSA and / or DOT, it isn’t street “legal”. Then again, neither is red duct tape over a broken brake light. For this to be street legal, put posts into the holes, build the new bed inside the old bed, leave the bumper alone.

  7. To squash the fighting I did a little research. NC DOT uses the federal requirement for a bumper, and it is pretty generic…”a structural device that’s designed to mitigate injury and damage”…how much it is designed to do so is not specified; an oil-filled bumper that will take out a brick wall is perfectly legal…as is a chrome bumper that receives damage any time a pebble hits it as you drive down the road. He did not remove the front bumper, so the air bag rules do not apply. They do have rules against raising or lowering the bumper more than 6″…but it does not appear that he did this. As far as I can tell, it is perfectly legal in North Carolina, although it is certainly not legal in some other states.

    I know to many of the people here anything wood is evil…but remember…wood is the original carbon composite. You may not like it, but this guy does…and that is why he used it. He probably wouldn’t want a carbon fiber hood, but I doubt he would be trolling if you made one by hand and installed it on your vehicle. Why do you have to bash the appearance (which is very good for wood) just because you don’t like wood?

    1. It is safe to assume that NC’s vehicle code requires compliance with federal motor vehicle regulations which are very detailed and specific. See CFR title 94 part 581 for details. However, these bumper requirements only apply to passenger cars, not pickups or other light trucks. Pickups don’t even need a rear bumper at all to be street legal, so you can view this car’s bumper as an ornament.

    2. oil-filled or oil field? The bumpers on oil field trucks have to take the abuse of crawler tractor pushing & tugging on them in extreme conditions. I guess they fit the requirement of preventing damage to the truck the are mounted on. Not so much for whatever it is they strike in the civilian world.

  8. Just wondering why the lag bolts weren’t countersunk… despite being rounded, they love to snag on everything – especially after the wood shrinks. We had an old Chevy 66 dump truck modified with a flatbed in a similar fashion that didn’t have countersunk (carriage) bolts, and it would regularly destroy the net-wrap on round bales.

    Plus, if you’re carrying a flat-bottomed load like some liquid tanks, it puts all the weight on those bolts. We had to replace two tanks because they had worn into the bottom of the tanks where the bolts were. We finally fixed the problem by taking the bolts out and countersinking them about 1/4 inch with a spade bit.

    1. ^ THIS! I read thru the comments, amazed nobody else said anything, until your post at the end. How in the world did he build this without countersinking the main carriage bolts? i cant imagine trying to load up furniture.. or boxes.. with metal bumps on the floor. Strap stuff down too tight and now you punched dents. Making sure the floor surface was smooth and level, and perhaps even slightly bowed so as not to collect water over time, would have gone a long way IMO.

  9. Nice, I’ve always wanted a flatbed (not necessarily wood though). He does need rear side markers to make it street legal though. The stock taillights wrapped around and provided that function, but the inset ones on the back do not.

    Personally, I would have gone with a metal bumper that complimented the wood work. Something like a hammered iron work look. I have no idea on the legalities of a wooden one, but around here I’ve seen quite a few handmade ones from pipe, to railroad ties. Unless a police officer is just looking for a reason to pull you over, I would think it would be fine.

    I have seen more issues from lifted 4×4’s and their bumpers being too high. There is a maximum height it can be so that if a car rear ends you, their bumper or engine hits your bumper and not the windshield causing decapitation. That is why semi trailers have that piece that hangs way down.

  10. Although this is nice work, it isn’t anything new. Usually there would be pockets on the edges to hold sides to make it a stakebed if needed. Cedar is a nice idea, but it is expensive, if those are 5/4 deck boards he could have done steel for not much more money.

  11. Props to the guy for doing a great job, but that thing is the ugliest flatbed I’ve ever seen… Had the truck been an older model (50’s to late 60’s / early 70’s), it would have looked great.

    1. IMO doesn’t look any more out of place than commercially made steel flatbeds on the same model of trucks. Constructing that front panel to follow the lines of the cab would have gone a long way to dressing up the overall appearance.

  12. While I prefer the factory bed on my daily driver pickup, a flat bed has it’s benefits. I had hope to put a flat bed on a second pickup I had, but it had other issues that need to be repaired, and in total it was going to be more than what I could afford. The biggest trick in to keep the load height as low as the factory bed, while allow for full wheel travel. Even shallow wheel tubs seem to negate the advantage of flat bed. All this needs is a Moon keg style gas tank at the front of the bed.

  13. This may sound like a stupid question, but I’d appreciate the guidance…how do you fit the brake lights and the blinker light in to that one circular red light? I’d like to do something like this to mine. Thank you! Please feel free to DM @stilesoftime

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