How to Install a Wooden Truck Bed

by Mark Morris
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Antique Truck image by jodi mcgee from

A custom-fitted wooden truck bed is a nice finishing touch for any truck, but is almost mandatory for the classic American pickup. Wood beds are long-lasting, good-looking and easy to repair or replace in comparison to steel. Full wood bed kits, including chrome bolt trim strips and matching hardware, are available for most common classics and can be adapted to fit many of today's trucks.

Step 1

Sketch out the placement of the original boards, including width before removing. Truck beds kits come with varying width boards that need to be placed correctly to fit the bolt pattern in the bed.

Step 2

Remove the old floor from the bed of the truck. Remove the nuts from the bolts underneath, using a socket wrench or impact gun to loosen and remove the nuts. Tap the bolts up through the bottom of the bed with a hammer. Pry the boards up with a pry bar, if needed, and lift them out of the bed.

Step 3

Assemble the bed kit outside of the truck bed on the floor or other level work surface. Place the boards with the two narrowest boards to the outside with the grooved edge to the inside and the flat edge to the outside. Position the remaining boards according to the sketch you made and fit the chrome bolt strips with the edges in the grooves in the bed boards. Check all pieces for proper length and fit. Any boards that need adjustment should be returned to the manufacturer for replacement.

Step 4

Fit the bed boards into the truck bed, starting with the two outside boards, slipping them under the angle trim, which will be bolted or welded to the bed sides. Fit the chrome bolt strips into place between the boards and fit the bolts through the holes in the bolt strips and the holes in the floor frame to check for proper fit.

Step 5

Mark for bolt holes at this point if there is any variance in fit or you are installing over a solid bed. Use a center punch and hammer to mark each bolt hole you need to bore. Set the punch in the center of the hole and strike it firmly with the hammer to make a small, round indent to mark the hole. Remove the bed boards and chrome bolt strips.

Step 6

Drill any bolt holes needed to make the chrome bolt strips fit. Use a 51/16-inch bit with a diamond tip on medium speed for best results. The harder the surface the slower the bit needs to turn to cut it efficiently and prevent overheating.

Step 7

Sand the bed boards thoroughly with 100-grit sandpaper. Apply two coats of natural, boiled linseed oil with a fine-bristle brush to seal the wood. This finish will protect the wood without concealing its natural grain and color. It can be maintained with a periodic reapplication of linseed oil.

Step 8

Refit the boards in the bed, fit the chrome bolt strips in place and drop the bolts through, one in each hole. Thread a washer and nut onto the bottom of each bolt and turn them clockwise until snug, using a socket wrench. Avoid overtightening, which will pucker the bolt strips.

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