When Chase Lawler wanted a wooden micro camper for the back of his pickup truck, he couldn’t find anyone who sold them or even custom-built them.
So he decided to design and build his truck camper using plywood instead of metal and fiberglass. Chase uses it for festivals, skiing, surfing, and just exploring.
Since a full-sized mattress fits inside, it’s pretty comfortable. And there’s still room to keep pillows and gear inside too. The camper is waterproof and sealed with polyurethane. Lawler is offering to build them for clients prices starting at $880.
Chase’s Plywood Truck Camper
Images © Chase Lawler
The Ultimate Quick Guide to Building a Plywood Truck Bed Camper
The DIY trend and the tiny house movement have revolutionized the way we think about portable and compact living spaces. A key component of this trend is the truck bed camper, an affordable, customizable option for adventure-seekers and travel enthusiasts. This guide focuses on building a plywood truck bed camper, offering insights and answers to common questions.
Why Plywood is Ideal for Truck Bed Campers
Plywood stands out as the material of choice for truck bed campers due to its balance of durability, weight, and versatility. Unlike OSB, plywood is less susceptible to moisture damage and can withstand the varying conditions of road travel. Its strength makes it suitable for both the frame and the interior structures of the camper.
Designing Your Plywood Camper
When designing a plywood truck bed camper, consider the weight distribution and structural integrity. Use thicker plywood for the base and floor (around ½ to ¾ inches), ensuring it can support the weight of furnishings and occupants. For walls and internal structures, thinner plywood can be used to minimize weight.
Plywood Types and Treatments
Choose marine-grade plywood for areas exposed to moisture, like the camper floor. For exterior walls, consider treated plywood or a protective coating like polyurethane to enhance durability and water resistance. Pressure-treated plywood is also an option for added resilience against the elements.
Insulating and Lining the Camper
Insulation is key for comfort. Foam board insulation, sandwiched between plywood layers, offers a balance of thermal regulation and space-saving. For the interior walls, you can either varnish the plywood for a natural look or use laminate or thin paneling for a finished appearance.
Images © Chase Lawler
Customizing Your Camper
Personalize your truck bed camper with built-in storage, foldable furniture, and custom shelving, all achievable with plywood due to its ease of cutting and assembly. Consider adding a raised platform for a sleeping area, with storage underneath, maximizing the limited space.
Windows and Ventilation
Incorporate windows and ventilation for light and air circulation. Use proper sealing around the windows to prevent moisture ingress. Skylights are also a great option for extra natural light.
Electrical and Plumbing Considerations
If you plan to include electrical or plumbing systems, design these elements before finalizing your plywood structure. This allows for the proper integration of wiring or pipes within the camper walls.
Finally, consider the aesthetics and functionality. Paint or varnish the exterior to protect against the elements and give your camper a polished look. Interior decorations, efficient lighting, and comfortable bedding can transform your plywood truck bed camper into a cozy, functional travel home.
Building a plywood truck bed camper can be a rewarding project, offering a custom, cost-effective solution for on-the-go living or recreational travel. By carefully selecting materials, designing for space efficiency, and personalizing your build, you can create a durable, comfortable, and unique tiny home on wheels.
Sources & resources
- Polyurethane on Amazon (affiliate link)
- Student Living in his Truck to be Debt-free
- 1966 Gypsy Camper Housetruck
- Tiny House on a Truck For Sale
- Box Truck Converted into Amazing Solar House Truck
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