Welcome back for the second installation of how an F150 becomes a home!
So, the last article left off with the basic bed and bedside table structure completed, and now I’ll finish up how I built a shelving unit and outfitted the camper with all kinds of wonderful amenities to make it feel like home. Also, stay tuned for the cost breakdown at the end of this post – let’s see if I break the bank!
First, to utilize the right side I drew out some plans for a shelving apparatus that would hold my water jug, miscellaneous items, and provide a flat surface. Technically, the shelf simply hangs off the side of the wall, anchored with two C-Clamps.
The shelf started out with a simple 1×4 held down by the clamps, and then ¾ inch plywood for the top and bottom shelves and ½ plywood cut for the back. The top is screwed into the 1×4 and also wedged underneath the window frame, creating a solid fit. In addition, the bottom of the unit sits on the wheel well for added reinforcement. I used corner braces to attach both shelves rather than toenail the pieces together with screws. Since the bottom shelf will hold up to 3 gallons of water, I needed it to be extra reinforced, so I also applied longer braces to the bottom of the backside.
I cleaned up the cuts and added a little cupboard (which was very fun to make, and I’ll brag was completed using only screws, no corner braces. I’m starting to feel professional!)
It always amazes me how projects like this little cabinet and shelving unit look so simple, but actually take a long time to complete. I spent the better part of an afternoon and evening planning, measuring, brainstorming, talking to myself, correcting mistakes, cussing a few times, and eventually raising a glass in triumph when I created a workable item. I have thoroughly enjoyed this build for the problem-solving opportunities it has warranted and the sense of accomplishment I am left with after every little victory. I don’t think I’m going to run off and be a carpenter or a cabinet builder anytime soon though.
Also, I forgot to show my wonderful carpeted floor, which came together pretty quickly. I knew I wanted a flat surface since kneeling on those ribs on the floor are hell on the knees. I grabbed some lath and cut it into lengths to run down each rib. Then I measured and cut a piece of flooring underlayment. Each piece of lath got a healthy strip of wood glue and then we carefully placed the underlayment where we wanted and weighted it for the night (this was definitely a two-person part of the project!).
After the glue was set, I cut a piece of old carpeting I had in my garage to fit over the underlayment. The carpet isn’t glued or attached so it can easily be removed for cleaning.
I used the remaining bit of carpet to line underneath the left side as well.
Now that the back is feeling more comfortable, it’s time to find things to put in it! I shopped around both online and in brick and mortar stores for storage bins, tupperwares, organizers, etc., and eventually ended up buying a large wicker bin at Hobby Lobby, some drawer storage boxes from Amazon, curtains from Shopko, and 3-inch bed foam from Joann Fabric. I already had most everything else, including a soft-sided cooler/table from REI, various Rubbermaid tubs, and lights.
Curtains proved to be a little troublesome, mainly because I was stubborn and wanted them all to be on rods so they could easily be pulled open and shut. However, topper sides are NOT vertical and move around a lot when driving, so good luck trying to get even the strongest spring rod to stay up! After a few failed attempts, I resorted to simply using velcro to stick a solid sheet of Sun Zero curtain material to the top and bottom of the window. When the curtains aren’t down, I can roll up and tie them or take them completely off. The road will determine which method becomes more practical.
I made curtains for all the windows since who knows what kind of creepers could be around on the road. I was able to rig up a rod for the front window since the topper sides are closer to vertical. I angle-cut some dowel pieces and routered out a notch for the rod to sit in. Huge globs of hot glue holding the dowel pieces to the carpeted interior, and it is still up so far!
For bedding, I found a great deal on a chunk of 3-inch foam. I had previously bought some 1-inch foam and doubled it, but a few nights proved it just wasn’t enough padding for long-term use. I decided I would splurge and spend some good money on foam, but I hit a 50% off sale at Joann’s and got this for $48! Definitely worth every penny. I threw a large, tight weave blanket around the mattress in hopes it will help keep it both clean and preserved. Plus, it looks sweet.
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed following me on this journey and are perhaps inspired to start your own project. The options are endless and the payoff is great – I thoroughly enjoyed every step of the build and now have a sweet home on wheels to go exploring!
*I had most of the lumber laying around my garage already, so I found average prices at Home Depot*
Truck topper $675 (the biggest steal of the decade!)
1 sheet ¾ in. plywood $35
1 sheet ½ in. plywood $15
3 2x4x8 $10
1 1x6x10 $9
4 8’ lath strips $12
2 C-Clamps $14
4 Nuts/bolts/washers $3
Wood glue $5
6 larger hinges $15
4 small hinges $7
1 in. speedbor bit $6
2 ½ in. screws $6
2 Magnetic clasps $3
12 corner braces $10
Curtains (side & back) $17
Curtains (front) $6
Curtain rod $6
3 in. foam (25″x70″) $48
Large wicker basket $20
Clothes organizer bins $12
LED push light $5
DC to AC 100W inverter $18
Beer for unpaid help $negligible
GRAND TOTAL $997
I was going into this project willing to pay up to $1,500 for a high-quality topper alone, so to see the WHOLE project come in under a thousand…wow. Looking back, so many things just fell into place, from the build working smoothly to seemingly scoring deals every time I turned around. I think I have made the right decision and am SO excited to hit the road and enjoy a life of less “stuff” and more fulfillment (how hipster am I?!)
Biggest lesson learned: Just do it.