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cboy 02-05-2004 10:12 AM

upholstered bed liner
I'd like to create a bed liner for my '32 pickup to protect the paint and floor from any cargo flopping around back there . I'm thinking of just making a simple box from 5/8" oak veneer plywood and then upholstering and padding it on the OUTSIDE (bottom and sides) to I can slide it in and out of the bed without scratching anything up. I would then stain and polyurethane the finished wood on the inside. I'd also like to incorporate an upholstered lid/tonneau cover to keep things dry and protected. With all nice square corners, this appears to be something I could do myself. However, I'd sure appreciate any tips or ideas on the best way to do the upholstery. Also, if someone has seen or built anything similar that might incorporate a better idea than the wood box concept, that would be helpful as well - especially if it would be lighter weight.

I do want to have the liner easily removable to show the bed and flooring when appropriate - so that might eliminate some ideas.

Dewey 02-05-2004 10:24 AM

I'm planning the same thing for my '53 Chevy PU. I plan on using plain old 3/4" fir plywood and hinging the sides and ends so the whole thing folds flat for storage. Will use felt outdoor deck carpet and plan on storing it wrapped in plastic so the carpet stays as clean as possible to help prevent it from damaging the bed. Will be in storage most of the time to show of the bed and will be for rough use so no plans for fancy wood or finish.

cboy 02-05-2004 01:00 PM


Have you come up with a design yet for the placement of your hinges. I was thinking about doing the same thing (having the sides fold flat) but if I put the hinges on the inside (sides fold over onto the bottom) then only the left and right sides could fold flat and the two ends would not be able to fold over because of the thickness of the two sides (I hope this makes sense). Also, in order to even get the two sides to fold over, the four corners of the bed could not overlap - they would have to all have to be the "inside" length in order to pass by the end pieces (again, I hope this makes sense if you try to picture a box with 3/4" thick sides trying to fold inward on itself).

So then I thought about putting the hinges on the outside but then I'm right back to my initial problem - the possibility of the metal hinges nicking or scratching the paint.

If you have a solution or two, I'd like to hear about them.



A couple more questions regarding your design.

Are you planning on just gluing the felt carpet right to the plywood? That sure sounds a lot easier to me than upholstery. It might be a trick getting the corners/edges or the carpet to butt up perfect, but then not that many people are going to see that side of it anyway.

Also, my thinking was that 3/4 ply would start getting pretty heavy, especially for one person to handle. Do you think 5/8" or even 1/2" would present a structural problem?

My plan is to have the liner in when I go on runs or to shows to carry my gear but then to take it out once I reach my destination and flip it upside down, set it on a leg assembly made of pvc pipe (which could be disassembled for easy transport) and have it as a little table to gather around, eat on etc. That is why I want to keep mine as light weight, yet sturdy, as I can.

Dewey 02-05-2004 02:17 PM

Yep, got that all figured out. The sides will be hinged directly to the bottom. The ends will be hinged to 3/4"x3/4"x bed width riser boards that will be glued/screwed to the base. Add a few simple latches at the corners and it will work great. Fold the sides in, fold the ends down over the sides and you have a 2 1/4" thick platform. I like the 3/4" thickness since plywood is so crappy nowadays, any thinner than that and it would not hold its shape. Also, that thickness will give added protection to the valuable sheet metal. A little heavy but you aren't hauling it very far. Give a buddy a Bud to help move it in and out.

The liner is strictly functional, I don't care how it looks so plain old plywood, glue the carpet on. At the shows, fold it up and lay it with the carpet looking up and use it to set your hibachi and lawn chairs on so they don't sink into the grass. Or, reassemble it upside-down and use it as a tall coffee table. That would be more practical than trying to get PVC pipe to hold it up and you won't need to carry around extra junk. Anyway, we are supposed to be roughing it at rod runs so bending over to grab a Bud off a short table is a badge of courage.

cboy 02-05-2004 03:36 PM


I'm having a bit of trouble picturing the solution. If there are 3/4" risers at each end and the side boards are hinged to the bottom, won't the tips of those risers prevent the side boards from folding down? And even if they can fold down, once they get down won't the end 3/4" of each side board rest on top of the riser and prevent it from laying flat down against the floor - and in turn prevent the end boards from folding over?

(Sorry if I'm missing something here - I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes.)

I've got an even better idea for you at shows. Glue foam insulation to all the inside surfaces, cover the foam with a plastic drop cloth, fill the whole thing with ice - and have the worlds biggest Bud cooler. (Or swimming pool if it's a really hot day)


Whoa, wait a minute (coming back after the lightbulb went off). Do you mean the end board sits on TOP of the riser? Then, if you routed out the board and riser and sunk the hinge below the surface I think you are right on the money. It would work that way.

The other option would be to put the sides on risers instead of the ends and then place the hinges at a point just beyond the height of of the end boards when they are folded down. I think that would work too - and you wouldn't have to sink the hinges.

Thanks Willys - you've obviously been mulling this one over for a while. 02-05-2004 04:24 PM

Or you could set it upside down like a table, get underneath it with the Bud, knock back a few then pop out of one of the end doors like a trap-door spider and scare the daylights out of kids who are walking by. Possibilities are endless!

Does this picture help or muddy the waters even more?

cboy 02-05-2004 05:19 PM

Yup, the drawing clarifies it. Do you have a cad type program that drew that or did you paper and pencil it? 02-05-2004 05:33 PM

I did it in MS PowerPoint because the lines are objects and can be moved and edited easily, copied it into PaintShop Pro (can't manipulate objects in this very well - they become part of the whole as soon as you draw them) and saved it as a .jpg. Really low tech.

horvath 02-06-2004 06:29 AM

The only thing that bugs me about this idea is 3/4" plywood. I understand you need it to hold it's shape, but man, that's a LOT of weight goin' on, eh?

Couldn't you go thinner if you used a good quality marine plywood? Or even a quality, well dried, hardwood?

I've ben entertaining ideas about a similar idea for the bed of my 54, only I'm not thinking about a removable deal ... just doing the bed up in wood -- sides, too -- with my spare tire side-mounted on the inside of the bed.

Anyway, I've been wondering how thin I can go, especially with a bed cover, and not have any warping going on.

54 Chevy Pickup

cboy 02-06-2004 07:22 AM


I think Willys is right about the quality of plywood in general these days. I hope to get around the problem, at least partially, by the fact that my bed is fairly short (54"), and I'm going to use a solid core plywood which tends to keep its shape a little better. (The drawback to solid core is that it is not glued for external use - which I hope to counter by polyurethaning all the edges as well as the flat surfaces). I think I can get away with 5/8" going this route. or possibly even 1/2"

I'm also considering going all the way down to 1/8" or 1/4" for the floor. I figure the floor really doesn't need to hold any weight since it is supported by the real floor right below. Basically this piece of 1/8" will just act to keep the sides and ends square and to have something to attach the upholstery or carpet to.

Another thought has been bouncing around in my head as well and that is to use something like hollow core doors for the sides. In the past I've altered hollow core doors and made some from scratch. They tend to be very straight and they are light weight. It's a lot of work to go to. But if one covered them totally with upholstery you wouldn't have to be that meticulous during their construction.

One final option I've considered is to make all the piece of the bed liner independent - so it can be taken out piece by piece - and basically holds itself in place with a few brackets or snaps. This doesn't get to your total weight problem, but it gets more to my "ease of handling" concern.

But I'm still a little like you - looking for the perfect, lightweight material that will keep its shape and not scratch or mar the sides or floor of the actual bed.

NDtruck 02-06-2004 08:49 AM

What about using a type of ABS plastic or something along those lines. I don't have any experience with them, but just figured I'd throw it out there. But any reason that wouldn't work?

So feel free to shoot it down. :P 02-06-2004 09:24 AM


Originally posted by NDtruck
What about using a type of ABS plastic or something along those lines. I don't have any experience with them, but just figured I'd throw it out there. But any reason that wouldn't work?

So feel free to shoot it down. :P

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horvath 02-07-2004 01:04 AM

Hmmmm ... ideas, dreams, meanderings and pontifications -- what fun it is to daydream about the possibilities of what we can do next with our rides.

I was thinking about ABS plastic ... but as a cover, it would probably sag without some kind of support. And for the interior parts of the bed, it just isn't necessary.

In my case, since I'm not looking to remove the interior-design parts, like cboy, I can go as thin as I like ... and I'm not planning on using my truck bed to haul anything, so I can dress it up with some nice hardwood.

As far as the removable, hinged, interior pieces, I think Willys36 has it goin' on ... and very nicely, too!

54 Chevy Pickup

Kevin45 02-07-2004 03:43 AM


What about using a type of ABS plastic or something along those lines
ND's got a point. Awhile back on one of the so many car shows on TV the guys went to a p[lace that makes truck bed-liners and had a custom made ABS type liner. The forms are made of plywood and a sheet of plastic is put over it and vacuum formed. Just takes a matter of minutes. I would imagine that you could contact some of the bed-liner manufacturers, explain what you have and see if you could build the form, dismantle it, and ship it to them, or if demand seemed high enough they may be able to do a custom liner. It would be worth a shot at least. Also with an ABS type of liner you could possible make it a little more rigid and then have it upholstered. You could have any design formed right it when the vacuum was pulled. It is a thought.

HEY CBOY....check this out. Right in your own state. Might be worth shooting them an e-mail. No postage necessary!!



cboy 02-07-2004 07:08 AM


Thanks for the heads up on Pendaliner. I checked over their site but it appears all the liners are mass produced specifically to fit existing late models - nothing custom or oddball sized.

Regarding the ABS idea, it might work for some applications and ought to be much lighter weight than plywood. But it seems to me if you are going to go to all the trouble of making up the plywood form anyhow, why not just cover the plywood with a release gel and then glass it yourself? Once dry, I would think upholstery or outdoor carpet could be glued to whatever surfaces you wanted.

Then again, maybe this is a good place to apply the KISS theory - just build a simple plywood box and glue on a fairly nice felt outdoor carpet. Heavy - but simple.

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