In this post we’ll walk through the step-by-step build process for our latest homemade diy truck camper setup and sleeping platform design.
This homemade diy truck camper setup is perfect for either solo truck camping in a traditional truck topper, or for if you’d like to set up the bed of your pickup truck for camping with one of the newer wedge-camper overland truck campers.
If you’re not entirely sure which truck bed sleeping platform option may be the best for your diy truck camper build, head on over to our post about choosing a truck bed sleeping platform that’s right for your needs.
And don’t worry – if the prospect of building your own homemade diy truck camper seems completely overwhelming, know that we went into our first build having literally no prior experience with design or carpentry.
All you need is a little time, patience, and the right tools, and you can do just about anything!
*(This post contains affiliate links. This means we may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See our full disclosure.)
Design Goals for this Homemade DIY Truck Camper Build
For this build, we were focused on making a DIY truck camper that could accomplish the following:
Provide enough space to sleep a single adult (or 2 in a pinch) or child
The sleeping platform would need to be removable, but strong enough to support workloads if/when needed
Have a built in location for a camping stove
Have built in storage for a 6lb propane tank
Built in storage for a Dual Battery Setup using our Solar Generator
12V charging ports for cell-phones & laptops
Allow space for a 12V ARB Elements Camping Fridge with interior and exterior 12v power outlets
Allow space for a 10 gallon DIY camping shower and water container
Convenient sliding drawer storage for all our camp kitchen gear
Leave enough headroom to still be able to sit up comfortably
This half-platform diy truck camper design, in conjunction with a couple storage boxes, creates a more modular truck camping setup than our previous full-width sleeping platform design (which is designed for families or couples using a standard truck camper shell for their diy truck camper build).
DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform Materials List:
3 – 4ftx8ft cabinet grade ¾ inch plywood boards – birch or red oak
1 – 8ft long 2”x1” oak board
1 – pair of 60” long 500lb rated drawer slides*
1 – recessed drawer handle*
1 – 250 piece box of 1 ¼ inch Kreg Jig screws*
1 – box #8 1/2 inch self-tapping screws (for attaching the drawer slide)
1 – box #10 1/2 inch self-tapping screws (also for attaching the drawer slide)
1 – Kreg Jig Kit with Clamp* (This is a MUST HAVE tool – especially for carpentry noobs like us!)
Circular Saw or Table Saw (and a friend to help hold the plywood!)
Variable Speed Drill/Bit-Driver
Defining Terms for the Homemade DIY Truck Camper Build:
Because we are still complete carpentry noobs, throughout this guide we’ll make references to the below non-technical terms in order to help clarify parts of the assembly process.
Kreg Jig Joint – this is a wood joinery method using a tool called a Kreg Jig that allows you to easily and securely join wood using a drill and Kreg Jig screws – It’s like making your own DIY Ikea furniture!
Vertical Kreg Jig Joint – when a Kreg Jig Joint is used to secure something vertically (i.e., up and down, perpendicular to the ground)
Horizontal Kreg Jig Joint – when a Kreg Jig Joint is used to secure something horizontally (i.e., side-to-side, parallel to the ground)
Toenail – this refers to alternating the Kreg Jig joints from one side of a board to the other so that the screws enter at opposing angles
Now it’s time to measure, measure….yeah probably measure again, cut, Kreg Jig, and assemble. You got this!
Step 1: Measure your Truck Bed Footprint
First outline the footprint of the truck bed to calculate how much space you have to work with and roughly how much plywood you will need. This lays the foundation for your truck bed sleeping platform design, and helps in planning the rest of the build.
The measurements throughout this guide likely won’t apply exactly to your own DIY truck camper build, but hopefully the process of how we measured will, and you can simply add length/width to the dimensions to suit your own truck’s bed space.
BONUS: If you’re a Toyota Pickup or even Toyota Tacoma owner these measurements should be very close to your own because Toyota didn’t change the 6ft bed layouts all that much over the years.
STEP 2: Make the DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform Base
By placing a ¾” plywood Platform Base on the bed of the truck it will provide a nice level foundation to build the rest of the sleeping platform on.
This base could be anchored through the bed of the truck using lag bolts, but we opted to leave ours free-floating for easy removal. Because our gear-filled storage totes and camping fridge are alongside the platform, we haven’t experienced any issues with movement while driving – even off-road.
STEP 3: Build the DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform Supports
For our build we wanted the top of the platform to be level with (or to basically rest on top of) the 8” tall driver-side wheel well in order to maximize interior headroom.
To achieve this we cut 7” tall vertical platform supports (strips) from ¾” plywood, which were then fixed vertically to the ¾” thick Truck Bed Sleeping Platform Base with vertical Kreg Jig joints in a toenail fashion as shown in the diagram above.
This “toenailing” will give the joint(s) an incredible amount of strength. Use a speed square to ensure all the supports stay as close as possible to 90 degree angles from the base, and use the 48” EXACT square to make sure the supports remain straight from front to back.
**TIP: Check your table saw or circular saw blade to make sure that the blade is set at a true 90 degree angle. This will ensure your cuts are nice and square which will help the supports stay square as well when joining.**
From one ¾” thick 4×8 plywood board cut:
The Platform Base AND
2 Long Platform Supports @ 7” tall x 71” long
3 Short Driver-side supports @ 7” tall x 11” long
The two Short Driver-Side Supports in front of and behind the wheel well, as well as a third at the rear-most end of the platform (not pictured above) are attached both vertically to the Platform Base and horizontally to the Driver-Side Long Drawer Support with Kreg Jig joints as shown in the picture above.
STEP 4: Build the DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform Drawer
The drawer was designed with a 13” interior width, which will accommodate most 2-burner camping stoves.
To accomplish this, we made sure the outer long platform support was positioned exactly 16” from the driver-side long platform support. It needed to be 16” to account for each drawer slide needing ¾” of space to mount, and each drawer wall being ¾” thick plywood (total of 3”). This left 13” of interior width in the drawer to house our stove! Yay math!
After triple checking all of that math, you can then mount the drawer slides to the platform supports as shown here in the photo. Note that they’re mounted 1” in from the end of the drawer supports. This is to leave room for the drawer face to close flush in between the supports (in the above diagram you can see the drawer face sits inside the drawer supports when closed).
The Drawer Base is what we refer to the bottom of the drawer as. The side and back walls of the drawer were cut and attached on top of the Drawer Base with vertical Kreg Jig joints in a toenail fashion as shown in the above diagram and photo below. Then the Side Walls and Back Walls were attached to one another with Horizontal Kreg Jig joints as well.
From one ¾” thick 4×8 plywood board we cut:
Drawer Base cut @ 14 ½” wide x 70” long
2 Side Walls cut @ 5” tall x 70” long
1 Back Wall cut @ 5” tall x 13” long
Once the three drawer walls (the two sides and back) are joined to the top of the drawer base and to one another, you can place the drawer in between the drawer slides. Then mount the slides to the drawer per the manufacturer’s directions using the SPAX screws.
**A couple drawer slide mounting tips:
Lay a few 3/16” thick pieces of plywood under the drawers to lift the drawer off the Platform Base slightly while mounting. This ensures clearance from the Platform Base, allowing the drawers to slide smoothly once fully installed.
The drawer was mounted flush with the end of the drawer slides, as you can see here in the photo. By doing this, the Drawer Face (once attached to the end of the drawer) will close flush in between the long Platform Supports.
Finally you can measure, cut, and attach the Drawer Face to the Drawer Walls and Drawer Base with horizontal Kreg Jig joints.
For the Drawer Face cut:
Drawer Face cut @ 15 ¾” wide x 6 ⅞” tall
*This is the width between the Drawer Supports (minus ¼” for clearance) x the height of the Drawer Supports (minus ⅛” for clearance).
You can now measure, mark, and cut a 2 ⅜” x 4” rectangular hole in the center of the Drawer Face using a ¾” drill bit to start and then the jigsaw to complete the cut. Then install the recessed drawer handle.
STEP 5: Add Platform Support Width Addition for the DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform Cover
This Width Addition, when added to the Driver-Side Long Platform Support will help support the removable access door in the sleeping platform cover, which you’ll see in the next section below. In this DIY truck camper build, the access door is used to access the solar generator and electrical system in the storage space behind the driver-side wheel well.
The Width Addition is simply a 2”x1” oak board cut 70” long and mounted flush with the top of the driver-side Platform Support with horizontal Kreg Jig joints as shown in the diagram above.
In the photo above you can see the Width Addition mounted flush with the top of the 7” tall Driver-Side Long Platform Support. Notice that the 5” tall Drawer Walls slide underneath the Width Addition with plenty of clearance.
STEP 6: Make The DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform Cover
The Sleeping Platform Cover sits on top of the Platform Supports and consists of 2 sections that combine to form the top of the DIY truck camper sleeping platform. This provides the sleeping area, as well as access to the DIY truck camper’s electrical system.
Use one 4ft x 8ft Piece of ¾” Plywood:
Cut one piece 29.5” by 71” – this will be the Platform Cover
Now cut the Platform Cover into Sections #1 & #2 as outlined in the diagram above
In Section# 1 drop cut a 9”x9” hatch into the space indicated on the diagram above – this will provide access to the storage space in front of the driver-side wheel well.
To do this, you can use a 1 ¼” hole saw to create a hole that will act as both the handle for the hatch lid when finished and the opening for the jigsaw to cut out the rest of the hatch.
Next find something appx 9”x9” to use as a template (we used a tupperware container) to trace a line for the hatch cut-out to follow with the jigsaw.
Finally, set the jigsaw to a 45 degree cutting angle, with the angle facing inward toward the opening while making the hatch cut out. This 45 degree angle will create a nice beveled lip and also create a very simple lid for the hatch.
Section #2 will provide easy access to the rear storage area behind the driver-side wheel-well. In our DIY truck camper build, this space houses our 12v distribution fuse block, Inergy Kodiak Solar Generator, and 6lb aluminum propane tank.
Now you can secure Platform Cover Section #1 to the outer long Platform Support below it using four upside-down Kreg Jig Joints as shown in the image below and diagram above.
Finally you can install the two toggle latches that secure the Platform Cover Sections together.
STEP 7: Apply Finishing to the DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform
Though you can finish the platform any way you’d like – using wood stain, paint, or just leave it unfinished – we recommend using Duplicolor Bed Armor* roll on truck bed liner for a couple reasons:
It provides a more durable protection for the surface of the DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform while hauling stuff around when you’re not truck camping
It is easily repairable – you literally just brush it on
It’s WAY easier than staining and sealing that much surface area
STEP 8: Install Fixtures and Modular Storage in Your Homemade DIY Truck Camper
You can now install your preferred camping power setup, camping fridge, camping water container, and storage totes. This is the fun part, and where your homemade DIY Truck Camper will really come together!
For help determining your camper power needs and choosing the right DIY truck camper power setup, see our detailed guides:
For help selecting a camping fridge see our guide to Choosing the Best Camping Fridge for your DIY Truck Bed Camper. We really like the ARB Elements Fridge for it’s low power consumption and incredible durability – you can check out our complete review, after over 20K miles of off-road trails and overland travel it’s still going!
Want to make your own 10 gallon DIY camping shower & water container for your homemade DIY truck camper? We have a detailed step-by-step guide here!
As for storage totes – we highly recommend the Front Runner Wolf Packs.
They’re approximately the same height as the completed DIY Truck Camper Sleeping Platform, so when laid end-to-end beside the platform in the bed of the truck they can serve as extended platform sleeping space. Plus they stack easily and securely, when desired, to help maximize interior space – AND they’re highly weather resistant, so you can leave them outside while at camp giving you even more interior space in your truck camper.
All-in, this DIY truck camper setup should take about 1-2 days to build. Having the right tools, measuring everything multiple times to ensure cuts are accurate, and taking your time is crucial to making this DIY homemade truck camper build a success. You can download the free printable diagrams by clicking below:
We really couldn’t be happier with this setup in our new wedge camper, and hope that this guide can help you in your own pickup truck camping build as well!
If you found this guide useful or know anyone that might please hit the share links below!
And if you have any questions please hit us up in the comments section below – we’d love to help you make your DIY homemade truck camper build a success!
We’d appreciate a share! Thanks!
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