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A Bed For My Truck Bed
Posted - Sep 23rd, 2007 8:30pm
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One of the great joys of owning a truck is being able to camp out in the bed or use it at the drive-in.  But while bed-liners and plastic based beds have made them tougher, they are still uncomfortable to lay in.  To solve that problem I created a padded bed that I can put in whenever I want to sleep in the truck.

It cost me about 200 bucks to build and it sleeps like a dream - much better than using chairs at the drive-in or sleeping in a tent while camping.  Here is what you'll need to make one of your own.

(Please note that all sizes are given for my 2007 Toyota Tacoma short bed pickup -- measure the bed of your own truck and make the appropriate adjustments before you start.)

First off here are the supplies you'll need:
  1. A sheet of 1/4" plywood cut to the size of your truck bed (between the wheel wells) In my case this was 3' 6" x 5'
  2. Enough "Sport Nylon" fabric from your local fabric shop to cover the plywood and 1' extra on each side - in my case this means a black piece thats 4' 6" x 6'
  3. Enough 4" thick heavy foam padding to cover the plywood - I got mine at Joannes fabrics.
  4. A large non-slip rug backing - the kind us keep rugs from slipping on tile.
  5. A bottle of fabric glue

You'll also need the following tools:
  1. Pair of good scissors
  2. A glue gun and some hot glue
  3. A large serrated (bread) knife

Step 1) Wood
The plywood cut to size I'm a pretty lazy guy so when I buy plywood for a project I try to get it at a place that can cut it for me.  Luckily the Home Depot next to my house does this so I had them cut the 4' x 8' sheet down to 3' 6" x 5' for me.  Just make sure you get as flat a board as possible - lots of plywood is severely warped and that won't make for a comfortable bed.  I also hit the cut edges with a little sandpaper to ditch the splinters, but its really not required.
Step 2) A non-slip surface
Non-slip rug backing The plywood will either bend down a bit (like the letter n) or bend up (like the letter u).  Put it on the ground in the "u" position and glue down enough of the non-slip rug backing to cover most of the wood leaving 3 or 4" around all edges clear.  If necessary cut the backing using the sciscors into multiple pieces and make sure to Use plenty Of both hot glue (for the quick hold) and fabric glue (for the long hold) around all the edges.
Step 3) A little padding
Foam padding cut to size Turn the board over (non-slip side down) and determine how you'll need to cut up the foam padding in order to cover the entire board.  Mark the foam with a marker or just wing it as I did and use the bread knife to cut the foam to size.  Once you've cut the foam, glue it down using gobs of hot glue.  I also glued the individual pieces to each other but not really sure that its necessary, just don't leave any uncomfortable gobs of glue on top of the foam.
Step 4) The Cover Up
Nylon fabric glued down Place the Nylon Cloth on the ground and then place the board (foam side down) in the center of the cloth.  Use hot glue to tack down one side then go to the other side, stretch somewhat tight and glue that side down too.  Do the same for the other sides and then use the sciscors to cut any excess cloth off that hangs over the non-slip pad.  Finally glue the entire edge down using the fabric glue so that it holds permanently (the hot glue here is just as a helper)
Toss that in the bed of your truck whenever you like but I'd suggest storing it in the garage or someplace it won't get wet as the plywood warps easily.  I'll include some extra images below to help answer any questions but feel free to leave a comment if you encounter problems or can make any improvements.
This treated quarter inch plywood was only about 12 bucks at the hardware store. Even though its pricey ($30/yard) the heavy foam is worth the cost Another shot of the non-slip backing The final product - its not perfect but its really comfortable and thats all that matters.
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