How to Build a Flatbed – DIY Flatbed Tutorial
A flatbed is basically the back of your pickup truck but stripped and replaced with a wide flat surface that you can use to transport smaller vehicles or install a small mobile camping rig. Building one is relatively simple if you have the basic know-how of operating tools. In this article, we will go through a rundown on how to build a flatbed on your own.
A flatbed can be used to make your own mobile camping home. For campers who currently don’t have the budget for an RV, building their own makeshift mobile home is the next best step. This will allow campers to build upon their own truck bed camping ideas. I have personally made and used a makeshift mobile camping rig myself from a flatbed and it was definitely something I am proud of.
However, I do advise that if you have no experience in this kind of work that you should ask for a professional to help you. You will be required to operate some heavy-duty equipment so proper precaution is imperative to avoid hazards and injuries.
The Tools You Will Need
- Tape Measure
- Grinder with Wire Wheel
- Metal Clamps
- Drill with 5/16 inches drill bit
- Circular Saw
- Cutting Torch or Reciprocating Saw
- Soap Marker
Additional Equipment – Protective Gear
- Welding Helmet
- Cotton Clothing and Welding Apron.
- Welding Gloves
- Work Boots (Leather)
- X6 Treated Wood (2x10x6)
- Angle Iron 40’ (2”x2”)
- X24 Carriage Bolts (5/16” 2”)
- X1 Treated Wood (2x12x6)
- 11 Gauge Rectangular Steel Tubing 24’ (2”x4”)
- 6’ Steel C Channel
- Trailer Light Kit
- Black Spray Paint
Step by Step Guide to Making your Own Flatbed
Flatbeds offer several advantages that fall into the category of convenience. If you have a pickup truck then I highly suggest you use that extra space at the back to help improve your camping experience. Turning it into a flatbed is one way of having your very own, DIY mobile camping setup. It might sound like a tremendous undertaking but it is actually quite simple as long as you got the right tools and the basic know-how. That’s where this guide comes in. Below is an step by step guide on how to make your own flatbed.
Step 1: Removing the Old Truck Bed
Before you try to remove the body of your old truck bed you will first need to remove the tail lights. Once that is done you can move on to removing the body. Normally, there will be 6 bolts holding down the truck bed to your vehicle. 4 of these will be located on the backside while the other 2 will be found in the cab area.
You can use a cutting torch to remove heavily rusted bolts. Now that you have successfully removed the old truck bed this is a perfect time to do some cleaning and maintenance on the frame. Hose it down to remove clogged dirt and use a wire brush and hammer to remove remaining rust. Apply a thin coat of primer to protect the frame.
Step 2: Prepare Materials
Cut the materials to their appropriate size and length. Use a wire wheel to smooth out the weld points and mill scale.
- 4 – 6’ rectangular tube (2”x4”)
- 4 – 5’ 8” (2” 1/8” angle)
- 6 – 10” (2” 1/8” angle)
Step 3: Welding
The layout will be quite simple. Lay down the rectangular tubes around the corners and weld them there. You can then place the angle iron and attach it in place by using a 2×4 piece of wood. You can also use some additional clamps if you wish to further secure the angle irons.
Once the angles are all settled and in place, you can weld the 6 pieces of 10”x2” angle to the frame of the new flatbed. You should check the distance between the flatbed and the rubber stop of the rear axle. It should have enough space between to prevent it from touching each other or against the wheels.
Step 4: Attaching the Lumber
This will depend on the actual length of your truck bed frame so do some measurements first to make sure. Usually, you will end up with around a 6 feet lumber. Use the standard lumber width so that replacing them in the future will be easier to accomplish.
Once you have cut down the lumber to the desired size. Drill the lumber on either end using your drill and secure it down with the 5/16” carriage bolts.
Step 5: Applying the Finishing Touches
You can apply a couple of black spray paint, 4 would probably do, to help protect the frames from rust. It is important that you make sure the frames are cleaned before applying the paint. Wait for 30 minutes after applying the first coat to spray paint another layer.
There are 3 Black Spray Paint options for you to choose:
Once the paint is dry you can bolt down the wooden deck back to the frame. You should drill the holes first before applying the paint to make sure that the paint will also be able to seep into the interior of the frame. This can help slow down corrosion even more in the long run.
Step 6: Installing the Tail Lights
You can get a tail light kit at your local hardware store. Rewiring them is relatively easy as all you need to do is locate the old wirings on the flatbed and attach them to the new set of tail lights. If your old flatbed did not have any tail lights then you can install one on your own by attaching it horizontally under the flatbed.
Building a new flatbed is relatively easy, especially if you already have the tools and materials. It is a simple matter of removing the old parts and replacing it with a new one. Take the utmost care when operating the hardware tools such as the circular saw and cutting torch. It is vital that you do this in an open area or at least make sure there are no flammables near you when welding the frames.
You can use this as a simple guide to give you a bare-bones idea on what is in store for you if you plan on building a flatbed on your own. If you are not confident enough to pursue this endeavor then there is no shame in that. Ask a professional for help to make sure it all goes flowingly. Comment down below if you have any additional tips for beginners. Don’t forget to share this article if you found it helpful!
About the Author
Ahoy there! The name’s Kevin Smith, the proprietor of this little travel and outdoors blog. The outdoors has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid as my parents were avid campers themselves. They taught me everything I know when it comes to camping, hiking etc. and I would like to do my part by imparting my know-how to like-minded individuals who enjoy the same hobby as me. I started this website in the hopes of helping other people when it comes to answering questions, giving tips and recommendations focusing on the camping niche. Along with some close friends of mine, we are here to help you make the most out of your outdoor experience. Enjoy your stay and enjoy the wild side!