How to Shorten a Chevy Truck Bedby Russell Wood
Trucks are utility vehicles, but sometimes the particular body style of truck you're looking for is only available in a long bed. Shortening a Chevy bed isn't a fun process, nor is it easy. But with some tools and careful measurements, you can shorten a bed in a weekend. This article will explain how to shorten a Chevy truck bed.
Shortening the bed
Remove the bed from the vehicle. Place it on either saw horses or jack stands, depending on what you have. Make sure the bed is secure and that the stands can support your weight as well. You're going to need access to every side of the bed, so be sure you can move around it easily.
Mark where you'd like to cut. Depending on the year of Chevy truck, sometimes the difference between the long bed and short bed models is before the rear fender well. In other years, it's both before and after the wheel wells. If it's both, just repeat the process for the other side.
Most long beds are 8-feet long, compared to the short bed at 6 feet, so using the masking tape, mark out a 2-foot section of the bed you'd like to remove. Make sure to keep the tape as straight and vertical as possible. The goal here is to cut out a large section of steel and put it together perfectly, so be sure both of your marks are exactly perpendicular. Mark all the way through the bed, including inside and on the floor. Use a marker to lay out tricky areas that you can't reach with the tape. Make sure to take lots of measurements, including the width of the bed, the length corner to corner and the new length. This will ensure that things are straight.
Using the reciprocating saw, start making your cuts at the bed rail and work your way down. The longer the blade, the better off you are at this point because it will help you cut through both the inner and outer bed wall at one time. Be sure that your saw is held at a 90-degree angle to the bed, so that your saw is cutting perfectly on both sides of the bed. If there's a tricky area you can't reach with the saw, use the cut-off wheel.
Repeat this process for the other side. Then move into the bed and start cutting the rearmost portion of the bed. This will free the two sections, so be sure both sides are properly supported first.
Once the beds are separated, cut out the last section on the forward portion of the bed.
Using the grinder with a flap wheel, or alternatively some sandpaper, scuff all of the cut edges so that only bare metal is showing. This is to ensure a quality weld.
Slide the two halves together and check for gaps. It's best to fit the gaps now rather than later, so smooth out or cut anything you need to. Then measure the bed for squareness.
Start welding the bed together by tacking the bed at the bed rails and the lower part of the bed. Step back and make sure all of the body lines match up perfectly and that everything is in line.
Continue welding the bed, making short tack-welds every 5 or 6 inches. The key here is not to heat up the sheet metal too much or else it will warp and cause bodyworking headaches later on.
Once the bed is completely welded up, grind down all the welds. Once again, move the grinder around a lot and be sure not to heat up the metal too much. Constantly check and recheck that you're not causing the metal to warp. Take your time here, and the rest of the process will go much smoother.
With everything smoothed out, start bodyworking the panel using plastic body filler. Start with 36-grit sandpaper to rough in the filler, then move on to progressively smoother grades.
Once the bed is straight, scuff the paint and primer the bed. Once the primer is sanded down and you're sure everything is straight, paint the bed to match the truck.
Things You'll Need
- MIG or TIG welder Reciprocating saw Cut-off wheel Grinder Sandpaper or grinder with a flap disc Tape measure Masking tape Permanent marker 3/8 ratchet and socket set Jack stands or saw horses Paint Primer Bodyworking tools Plastic body filler 36-grit, 80-grit and 220-grit sandpaper
- This is not an easy project, so be sure not to just jump into it. The sheetmetal work is easy enough to do on your own, but to do the framework requires a qualified professional with years of experience doing frame work. Do not jump into shortening the frame yourself unless you have that experience.
Russell Wood is a writer and photographer who attended Arizona State University. He has been building custom cars and trucks since 1994, including several cover vehicles. In 2000 Wood started a career as a writer, and since then he has dedicated his business to writing and photographing cars and trucks, as well as helping people learn more about how vehicles work.