It was while he was planning a trip to Northern Uganda that Richard Chapman realised he needed a drawer system for his Toyota Prado.
He looked at commercial systems, but thought he could improve on it. So he build it himself, saving about R9 000 in the process.
More than 17 000 km later, including an off-road trip from Gauteng to Murchison in Uganda and back, Richard’s DIY drawer system is still good to go.
What does the system consist of?
It has a frame with a lockable drawer in the middle and two side compartments. I used Superwood and it’s about 1 m long, 1.5 m wide and 30 cm high.
What are the system’s design features?
The drawer slides on industrial-strength Furnlock slides. The side compartments lift open on hinges to create more storage space. It fits in behind the rear seats and extends to the rear door. With the back seats down, the entire area becomes a single flatbed that is great for packing and storage.
How much did it cost to build and how long did it take?
The materials cost about R1 500 and it took about a week to build.
Did you do the measurements methodically or did you just wing it?
I started measuring with a tape measure and then cut out pieces of the frame as I went along.
With hindsight, the process would have gone a lot faster if I had designed and measured it more methodically.
What do you need for the project?
2-cm thick Superwood panels, Furnlock drawer slides, carpeting, carpet glue, wood screws, bolts, washers, nuts, steel L brackets, plastic drawer handles, a drawer lock and Velcro pads
What tools did you use?
A measuring tape, electric saw, drill, hammer, screwdriver, adjustable spanner, metal ruler, glue spreader, box cutter, a few vice clamps and a pencil
How did you make it?
After measuring the dimensions, I had the frame and drawer cut out and assembled it myself. Then I bolted the sliders onto the frame and carpeted the whole system. Finally, I installed the frame into the vehicle and bolted the drawer onto the sliders.
How did you secure it in the load bay?
I attached Velcro pads to the floor of the frame so it could cling to the Prado’s carpeted floor.
We also secured the frame to the metal floor bolts with cable ties. It hasn’t shifted a millimetre.
Do you have any tips about simplifying the process?
Design and measure everything properly beforehand. That way you won’t waste time and you’ll save yourself repeat visits to the hardware store.
You rate your packing system as better than commercial products in some ways. In what ways is it an improvement?
Although commercial products are fantastic, when it comes to building your own system you can tailor the design to your vehicle’s dimensions.
You also have a far wider choice of materials and components to match your requirements over that of a generic product. For example, Superwood is robust and resilient and is much lighter than steel. The system also utilises space far better. Lastly, the system leads to a saving of R9 000.
Are you a skilled DIY guy?
Actually, I’m pretty useless. I’ve learned a bit from this project, but on a scale from 1 to 10 I’m probably a 2.
Originally published in DO#39 | October 2010