Project Wombat - Build Your Own Bargain Utility Box

Nov. 01, 2005 By Dr. Sean Michael

Troopers have a goodly amount of interior cubic feet. What wasn't standard was a way to contain the necessities of off roading. Where to put that shovel? How to keep the toolbox from going airborne?

To address this need, I designed and constructed a simple utility box. I have refined the design for the accompanying construction drawings, improving upon the few weaknesses I found. This design is rugged, efficient, cheap, and removable. It also allows access to 75% of its interior even when the WomBAT is loaded to the headliner. When you need that tow strap, you can still get at it, despite the kitchen sink you may have packed atop the box.

To build the box you will need the following (as you may choose to vary dimensions, items below may be generalized):

  • a couple sheets of 4x8 plywood (3/8")
  • 14' of 1x12 pine board
  • 1.25" drywall screws
  • drill
  • sabre saw
  • circular saw
  • 5 door hinges
  • 3 cabinet door hold-opens
  • 6' of perlon cord (from an outdoor store)
As the construction drawings show, the vertical dividers in this box, plus the walls adjacent to the wheel wells, are 1x12 pine. The remainder is 3/8" plywood. The main door opens to the rear of the truck so that when loaded to the ceiling you can still get at tools. The clothing compartment is less important in that sense, and opens upward, and uses supports to allow heavy loads to rest on top of it. The whole box fits snuggly between the wheel wells, and the angled side allows a snug, gain-every-cubic-inch fit against the back seat. In a sudden stop it also spreads out the force as it tries to slide forward. The whole thing stays put mostly due to weight, but also due to the perlon cord I use.

The perlon cord (much stronger than plain nylon rope) is anchored to the tie downs in the floor, runs through the holes I show, and then anchors to the other side tie down using a trucker's hitch and half hitches. Oval hand holes, 2 per side, start about two inches down from the top. The box in our truck rarely comes out, but when it does, these handles really help. Each oval should be 1.25x4".

The whole thing eats up a ton of the back end, but is sturdy, holds a LOT of useful stuff, and keeps things out of sight. And, again, it's cheap to make. In ours we can fit the following:

  • short handled shovel
  • coiled inflation hose
  • two tool boxes
  • come-a-long
  • spare boots
  • gloves
  • winching accessories
  • misc. straps & rope bag
  • two ammo boxes with misc. items
  • changes of clothes for two adults
  • sleeping bag
  • spare water
  • spare motor oil
  • funnel
  • duct tape
Further improvements to the original would be best to include a non-slip surface for the top of the box, a stronger main door & hinges for use as a work bench, and sizing for any unusual objects that a person wishes to carry inside it.

Click here for a blueprint.

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