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DIY Drawer System - Gonna have a go.


Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2011
Right... been looking at drawer systems for a few days... and my word... what ridiculous prices!

(let me just clarify... that means if I went to the bank and said I would like to buy some - the bank would look at my account and say "that's ridiculous Sam" - I'm sure most of them are indeed great quality and worth every penny! :whistle: )

So here's the conversation:

Me: Cant afford this drawer system. Starting to stress a bit.
Me: Get a grip muppet - it's only a drawer. Just use a box!
Me: Nah - it'll jump about - I'm gonna knock up a drawer unit system at the weekend.
Me: Really? That could save us over £1000 - good plan. What we gonna use?
Me: Erm... wood?
Me: Yeah ok cool - heavy though right?
Me: Nope - we'll just use MDF.
Me: Hmmm.. still heavier than aluminium or something.. not to mention Formaldahyde?
Me: Formaldawho?
Me: Chris and Gary made one using a welded frame...
Me: A Formaldahyde?
Me: A frame
Me: Yeah but we cant weld - and IIRC that was a whole big unit not just drawers.
Me: True - but still not convinced about wood.. aluminium?
Me: Can't weld that either.
Me Won't have to - the bought ones aren't welded - just bolted.
Me: Hmmmmm.... good point - worst case could be ally frame and wooden drawers.
Me: So settled then - aluminium?
Me: Yup - apart from bending the edges of ally sheets to make holes it's easy.
SWMBO: Sam.. you've got that look.
Me: No I haven't...
SWMBO: Should I be worried?
Me: No it's ok baby - I haven't got the look.
SWMBO: You have.
Me: We have.
SWMBO: Is it expensive?
Me: Shouldn't be.
SWMBO: Dangerous?
Me: No.
SWMBO: Ask someone.
Me: She's right...
Me: Ok.

So, I poked around a bit and watched a few "how to" videos for assembling and installing bought systems. One example: here.

Looks pretty good - but even some of the expensive ones have got bendy drawers (judging from the way they twist and bend when they pick them up). Now to my mind, looking at what they are using for the frame at least, its pretty thin stuff with a simple 1/4" bend at the edges.

So my question here is this... I can find someone with kit to bend sheets to form lips to bolt to - but even if I can't, why not just a couple of sheets with plenty of holes along the top and sides bolted together with 3mm 90 degree angle strips? Solid back, sides and middle brace... top can still be wooden screwing down into the frame.

Am I missing something obvious here - cos so far its looking like £100, maybe more if I went crazy with carpet, catches, stoppers and stuff... and even the runners (looking at some of them) can just be a few bolted in bearings... Drawers could be trixy - but worst case there is use wooden ones with lips on the sides resting on the bearings as runners... or even shallow filing cabinet ones!

I'm just looking for someone to point out the obvious floor here before I start? Don't worry I can take it.

I'm thinking a couple of ally strips going across the bottom to bolt to the tie down points - probably need longer bolts for that.

Gonna knock up a plan at the weekend - plenty of people selling sheets and strips and bits cut to size. Still not entirely convinced about the weight saving vs MDF - but I'll check it out for sure.
There are some great systems to be had, but there is no weight saving to be had because what ever you make will add weight.

The object here from my perspective is to create a space or kitchen where everything you need is easily accessible when you need it and not just a pile in the back.

The system I am making is two piece and locks into the third row seat brackets for security. It also incorporates a 70l water tank, drawers and a sliding fridge mount. I like the idea of modular as it can be easily lifted out when I don't need it.

These all have to be made to suit your individual needs, mine is in mdf as I am not sure I will get it right first time and may take mk 2, 3 or 4 before I finally get it just right.

As to runners you can get some good quality ones on eBay at less than £20 a pair that will easily take 45kgs Or more.

I did a lot of web surfing of pictures and took a lot of ideas from them, there is quite a few examples on pradopoint for starters.
225 mm electrical cable tray. Cheap, already bent and drilled / slotted ready for bearings etc. Very sturdy, easily cut and bent into a square.

It's what I am doing. That is if the drawers I have out on loan don't come back. Oh you know who you are..

Try City Electrical Factors near you. It's the single edge fold not the double.I would use two pieces, fold them both into a U shape and bolt them together. Just snick the corner by cutting out a small triangle and bend 90 degrees.

By the way, there isn't a problem with UK MDF in relation to Formaldehyde. That was US stuff and was years ago.

a modular system is best

I built a steel drawer frame and dog guard, and side frames as 4 separate pieces

then covered with boards and carpet tiles - which can all be removed if need be
But i leave this system in the vehicle all the time

but i have 2 further ply modules that sit on top of the main drawer unit, these are bolted in place with bolts & wingnuts and can be fitted removed in 15mins
1)a fridge compartment with slide on runners
2) storage box area
and lightweight stuff e.g. sleeping bags, tent etc can go on top of this with a cargo net to hold in place

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Not just a pretty LC are ya Chris :lol: I'll close my sheet metal worker browser windows then.

Cable tray looks like it could be perfect. About 40mm less than the height I was looking for - but with a runner underneath to lash it down and a reasonable thickness wooden top + carpet - could be spot on. Thank you. :thumbup:

Good news about the formaldehydedoodah too.

You going this root simply for weight saving or something else clever I wouldn't have thought of?

Gav - yup - kit at the ready please... do you know me then? :lol:
Nice Andy - OK if you can weld. Which the OP can't. The system I have in mind is all self build but with not much more than hand tools. No welding needed. Drawers would be wooden but with aluminium box down each side as runners just like in the Ironman vid. There are so many holes in the cable tray that you'd barely even need a drill.


Sam - weight saving. In MY truck?????? :shock:

Search around - there are different widths of trunking. But 225 is a good size for coming up to the line in the plastic panels in the boot space.
Nice Andy - OK if you can weld. Which the OP can't.

oopss - sorry :oops:
didnt read all of the Gollum-Smeagol esq conversation properly
:lol: :lol:

That precious. Oh, I made a funny. Well nearly.

Jokes about my ring aside (yes it was a pretty daft post - that's boredom for ya) ;) ... almost got all me bits and dimensions together.

I will keep a record of what I do with pics, dimensions, hospital reports and parts used etc. - just in case it helps anyone... if nothing else it will probably be funny to see how many times I can trip over a measuring tape in a confined space! I am determined at least to get the drawers opening out the back and not into the seats! :pray:

Went to see the chaps at City Electrical Factors at the weekend (hat tip to Chris :thumbup:) to get a feel of their 225mm cable management trays - and gotta say it's looking like a great idea... not decided on the single or double fold yet for strength (gonna be a couple of bodies sleeping on it - followed by fridge & kit etc. at some point) - but either way I think the idea of using it for a frame (2 lengths folded into U's bolted together) is a winner. They've got some pretty good looking struts for bolting down to the floor too.

Struggling a bit with bearings for the runners... (cue call to Chris' attention?)... decided I'm going with a couple of rows of sealed bearing to run aluminium/steel box section on (like the bought ones) - but there's so many types I'm getting a bit dizzy - hopefully have bit more luck searching for somewhere that stocks them tomorrow (plenty online but my naive eyeballs cant tell the difference).

Need to get some good locking handles in the mix so I'm probably going to run a metal bar across the top or bottom front to lock into - but that's going to depend on handles (which reminds me - I need handles).

Oh and thanks Gary for the heads up on Google Sketchup (in an ooooold post) - cool bit of kit - don't know how I missed it. Hours of fun!
Sam, I would say - pick your ally box for the runners then measure up against the hole positions in the cable tray. The bearings need to be a close fit but not necessarily a touch fit on the top in my view. This will dictate the size obviously. The slots in the tray aren't very big and may need drilling out once you have decided the locations for each bearing. But clearly this dictates the inside dimension of the hole in the bearing. However, if they were say 6mm, I can see this being enough for a drawer roller frankly. This should narrow the choice of which ones to go for. OD and ID. Width isn't really an issue as they won't touch the side of the drawer. I was going to use a bolt to go through one bearing, both trays and into the bearing in the next drawer cavity, then a nut on the end. No fancy fixings needed.

I don't think that you need NASA bearings here, just some cheap ones will be sufficient given their purpose. On the runners, I was going to drill holes though both sides of the box and then open up one hole on the outside. This would allow for putting a socket through to tighten the nut on the other end of the domed head bolt inside the drawer.

I made my last drawers out of MDF. Single sheet base with the sides slotted with a router to take the floor. Glued, they were strong and as far as I know, still going.

That's about as far as I had got. The IM video shows a neat way of making a stop to prevent the drawer from coming out.

Pics pisc pics pics, once you get going.

oooo - sliding tops - now there's an idea....
Sam, this is what I was aiming for - in my mind.


Sort of thing.

Yup - that's where I got the idea from. Was just trying to edit the post but missed the time window while looking for something to hang off of the bottom of the lid to make a runner. 75mm or 100mm cable tray with bolted box to fit into runner is best I've got so far but still looking - not sure if the sizes will add up yet.

Maybe just a couple of brackets holding the box section would be stronger... hmmm...

Just have to remember not to sit on it :lol:
Not sure I am with you. I am just going to have a flat top on it, contoured to the truck using the carpet as a template. I shall use rivnuts to secure it to the top lip of the frame. It won't be a sliding top like the AO one are. Too complicated for me and unnecessary.

Also going for a flat top with contoured edges etc. - but as the 120 doesn't have a drop tail I'm thinking I could fashion a sliding top for a make-shift table... don't really fancy drilling holes in the back door trim just yet (like Gary's).

Was thinking maybe a second set of bearings at the top like the picture above... and a smaller runner hanging off of the bottom of the right hand top to slide on them.

Of course, I could just make the right hand drawer 20mm lower and have a second top sliding out half way... (between the drawer and the top)... could probably get away with just running 18mm ply (metal edged) or something straight in the bearings (if it doesn't rattle). Could still load stuff up on top of the drawers then.

Could be too much hassle - have to see how many arms I cut off doing the first bit. A second sliding top could always be added after.

I'll post my sketchup pic when I'm done.
Woke up, thought about going to work - decided that was a rubbish idea and bought...

- 2 lengths of 225mm cable tray
- 1 length of 50mm cable tray
- Too much aluminium box section
- A ridiculously big roll of carpet
- Enough skate board bearings to start a new currency
- Not enough ply

I got distracted while I was buying ply and only got enough for the tops and wings... forgot the drawers! Yeah I know.

So far so good, but still need:

- Screws, bolts, washers etc.
- Carpet Glue
- More ply
- Handles / Locks
- Brackets for strengthening bits
- Some clever trickery

So more shopping in the morning then.
Hopefully take some starting pics over the weekend. Won't get a chance to get much done - but should start.

3 meter lengths of metal in a 120??? Man that's tighter than a .... (enter your own ending here).
Sam said:
Man that's tighter than a .... (enter your own ending here).
A fishes ar*e, that's watertight :lol: