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How to Build a Wooden Side Panel Assembly for a Truck Bed

by Michael Straessle

Side panels as a truck accessory extend the usefulness of a pickup truck because they allow the owner to carry loads that are higher than the truck bed walls. Created from solid lumber such as 2-by-4 studs, wooden side panels are removable when not in use. If you are unsure what they look like, picture a utility trailer with a wooden fence around its perimeter. Keep in mind that the truck panels are made of wood, so apply a finish to the panels that can withstand the elements.

Place the 48-inch lumber on a worktable. These are the uprights of the wooden side panels. They fit into the stake pocket holes on the top of the bed sides of the truck. Mark one end as the bottom of the uprights.

Measure the stake pocket holes and adjust the bottom of the uprights accordingly so they will slip into the holes without a struggle. Next, measure the distance from the front of the truck bed, just behind the cab to the tailgate end of the bed.

Cut six pieces that length from the 2-by-4 studs. These are the rails of the wooden side panels. Measure the distance from the front of the truck bed to the center of the first stake pocket hole and mark the rails accordingly. Repeat this from the center of the first stake pocket to the center of the second and from the second to the third.

Set a combination square on the marks and draw a line across the rails. This line represents the center of the uprights. Drill 3/8-inch holes on each line 1 inch from the long sides of the rails.

Measure from the top of the uprights and make marks at 3 1/2, 10 1/4, 13 3/4, 20 1/2 and 24 inches. Place the combination square on the marks and draw lines across the wide side of the uprights. The 3 1/2-inch space between the lines indicates the location of the rails. Drill 3/8-inch holes in the uprights to match the holes in the rails.

Assemble the panels with lag bolts, washers and nuts through the drilled holes. Tighten the bolts and nuts with a wrench.

Tip

  • Add a 2-by-4 to reach from the top of one side panel to the top of the other side panel just behind the cab of the truck for added support if needed.

Warnings

  • Do not leave power tools within the reach of small children.
  • Do not apply a finish to the side panels without proper ventilation.

Items you will need

About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.

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Photo Credits

  • Dark green oldtimer pick up truck image by Jean Paul Beumer from Fotolia.com