Building Rear Drawers
When we began traveling more, we wanted to be able to roll into a camping spot, quickly setup our kitchen and cook a warm meal. After some though and some quick idea sketches, I went to work building a set of drawers for our 4Runner.
Building the Drawers
I wanted some thing that would be a little more versatile than just two drawers. I wanted to still be able to store the 7gal reliance jug behind the passenger wheel well. I ended up going with two sets of 24" slides from Lowe's and placed a cubbie behind the drawers to store our recovery gear. I built everything out of 5/8 plywood, fabricating I-beams to support the weight of gear secured to the top. Most builds I had seen used 3/4" plywood, but this seemed to be overkill and I wanted to reduce the weight of the setup.
The top sits just above the rear passenger side wheel well. The driver side well sits slightly higher for the fuel filler neck, so I used cardboard to trace the profile of the wheel well. I used the cardboard to transfer the profile to the plywood top. This keeps the drawers as low as possible and still allows for storage boxes to fit snugly across the entire top.
Because I wanted to have a full width platform for the rear section, 53", I am using brass cabinet screws to secure the top to the base. This will allow me to remove the top from the vehicle by tilting it at and angle and well it takes some practice.
I installed the drawers and painted the platform top and drawer slides with Herculiner. Two coats turned out pretty good, and allows for easy touch up if it ever gets scratched. I used 1/16"x3/4"x3/4" aluminum angle, purchased from Lowe's for like $8 for 8', to trim all of the exposed edges and added some recessed tie-downs to keep equipment secure while traveling.
All of our cooking equipment is stored in the two drawers while we travel. We have been running this system since 2009 and it has been great. We love being able to set up our camp kitchen by simply opening the rear hatch and opening the drawers. We do get some funny looks from time to time when we are cooking dinner in rest areas, but it sure beats spending money on meals in restaurants.
Beau Johnston is an engineer, writer, and photographer who is dedicated to proving you can find a balance between work and life. He is the Co-Founder and Publisher of Living Overland and an Editor-at-large at Toyota Cruisers and Trucks Magazine. When he isn't working, you can find him exploring National Parks, fly fishing, and camping with his wife (Krista) and their two dogs.
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