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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Inspired by the homemade storage boxes from Corey, undertow, gearguywb and others, I set out to build a rear storage box for my FJ the weekend before last. I liberated several of their ideas and added a few of my own. My box was put into heavy use at this past weekend's April Fools Day Toyota Crawl in Harlan, KY and I am very pleased with it so far.

The point of this thread is not to show off my work (which is middlin' at best) but to provide a detailed account of some of the steps and decisions made, etc. so that others who are on the fence about doing the same thing may be inspired to do so. If you are afraid of cuttin' some wood, don't be. It really isn't that hard. I have some moderate woodworking experience in the past (worked in a cabinet factory for a few months after college) and that is about it.

The box is made from 3/4” hardwood plywood, available for $40 or less per 4'x8' sheet at your local Home Depot or Lowes. Most of the hardware was either purchased at Lowes or at McMaster-Carr online (McMaster-Carr Supply Company. If you have never dug through the McMaster-Carr online catalog, they are awesome and they ship really fast. They sell so much stuff that is hard to find at local stores it is amazing.

Dimensions and mounting considerations

For starters, you will probably want to utilize the four floor-mounted tie-down rings in the FJ rear compartment to mount your storage box. The rearmost tie-down rings can be removed and the machined holes in the body utilized. The front tie-down rings are in the sloped portion of the floor so it is probably best to connect the box to those using turnbuckles.

I decided on 39” wide by 27” deep after some deliberation. 39” wide allows the base to comfortably cover the mounting holes from the rear tie-down points while still leaving approximately 1 1/2” clearance on the sides. This clearance allows you to still access both the driver's side storage compartment and plug in a flat-headed extension cord into the outlet without removing the box:



Note that the cover can be lifted completely out if you want.



Flat-head extension cords are not nearly as common as regular extension cords but they are available if you look around. My local Lowes carries a few.

Obviously, what you can put into and retrieve from the storage compartment will now be very limited without box removal but it is at least still somewhat useful space. I will probably store towels and toilet paper and other squishable things like that in there, freeing up room in the box for other gadgets (as well as the OEM jack).

The 27” was chosen as this is most of the depth from the rear door to the crease at the slope of storage area just behind the front tie-down rings. This is also shallow enough that the storage box does not get too close to the rear door. I have the door-mounted cargo nets and I wanted to leave enough room for stuff in the lower net without it slamming into the edge of the box.

Overall height is up to you. I went with about 10” if memory serves. How many drawers and what width of drawers is also up to your personal taste. I went with three drawers with the middle drawer being a couple of inches wider than the left and right drawer.

I decided against mechanical drawer slides as I don't really feel that they are necessary and reduce overall storage space and/or weakens the strength of the internal frame (if you route channels for them to sit flush). They also add to the cost of construction somewhat. As a downside, I don't get that nice smooth drawer action that slides give you. It's a trade-off either way.

Construction

Decide on your dimensions and cut your plywood pieces accordingly. A table saw makes things easier but you can use a circular saw as well. I tend to cut large pieces with a circular saw and smaller pieces with a table saw.

You will also want to start with the 39”x27” base piece and pre-drill the holes for attachment to the rear mounting holes. Make sure you have those holes exactly right before you put the box together or you may be in for a painful realization. It would be very bad to put the box all the way together and then discover you screwed up the hole locations.

You have a couple of options with these holes. You can either just drill the holes large enough to pass the machine bolts through (in which case they will be mounted with the bolt head and washer above the base of the box) or use a Forstner (recommended) or countersink bit (what I used since I had one lying around) to dig out a recess so that the bolt head will be flush with the inside. If you choose to leave the bolthead above the base of the box, you will need to route a channel in the left and right drawers so that they can pass over the bolt without obstruction (there will be no need to route the channel all the way to the front of the drawer so it will be hidden). This is more work, but it will also probably result in a stronger mount since you are mounting through the entire 3/4” width of the plywood.

I used washers and socket cap screws to connect to the holes in the rear. Being a Japanese car, metric rules the day. You will want M6-1.0 machine screws to screw into these holes (Lowes has a selection of these in the metric machine screws section). I used M6-1.0x30mm socket cap screws with M6 washers. Socket cap screws allow for a smaller diameter recess since you don't have to leave room on the sides of the bolt to accommodate the ratchet diameter when using a normal hex bolt or worry about trying to screw it in in a tight space if using a screw-head bolt.



I also chose to route 3/16” depth channels with a 3/4” straight router bit for all the connections. This allowed me to “glue and screw” for a very tight and strong fit but it is not mandatory. Obviously, if you route connection channels, you will need to adjust the dimensions of your pieces to compensate so you end up with the same overall size box.

Since all but a few routed channels are on the edges of pieces, a routing table makes life much, much easier:



The interior routes on both the top and bottom piece I did by hand but you can also make a jig to keep the lines straight.

Here are some pics of the drawers going together:





And after rough construction was complete:





I used a lower rear piece on each drawer:



The reason for this is so that I can have more liberty to bolt things to the top of the box and not have to worry about a screw or bolt protruding slightly down into the frame itself and preventing a drawer from being pulled out.

To keep the drawers closed I pre-drilled holes to place bronze flanged sleeve bearings (from McMaster) in both the top of each drawer and above in the front of the box body itself.





I used quick release pins to pass through each set of sleeve bearings. This is what will ensure the drawers stay closed, although without the use of drawer slides they are not inclined to move much anyway with anything with weight in them.

It is always a good idea to measure and tap holes for whatever handles (in my case, cheap chest pulls from Lowers) you are going to attach prior to painting. The tap indentions are easy to find even after two coats of paint:



I completed the rough construction to this point in one afternoon.

A thorough sanding with 120 and 220 grit and then I painted. I was lazy and only looked at the Behr colors at Home Depot and chose a not quite black color (“Beluga”) since they have no greys that are anywhere near the interior grey of the FJ:





My color choice is probably my only big regret so far. I wish I had looked around for something a little lighter.

I found 6'x8' rolls of thin indoor/outdoor carpet in a few different colors at Home Depot for about $15. Cut a piece to fit and use some 3M spray adhesive and voila:





I was originally going to use toolbox liner inside the drawers but since I had so much carpet left over:



I attached 1” base 1 1/2” ring tie-downs on the top of the box:



I attached eye-bolts in the correct place in the back on each side for the attachment points to the front tie-down points in the FJ with turnbuckles:



I left a backwards wingnut on the outside on each eye-bolt so that I can retension by hand from the outside if needed.

Here is what the quick release pins look like:



I got the style that come with lanyards but haven't decided where I want to mount the lanyards yet or if I am going to use them at all yet so I have removed them for now (standard keychain-type ring, easily removed):



McMaster sells a huge variety of quick-release pins. Note that I tapped the upper sleeve bearings through the carpet, leaving a much better appearance.

And with everything put together, the finished product:



I may remove the tie-downs and paint them black. I haven't decided yet.

Mounting it in the FJ was nice and easy because the holes were right were they were supposed to be. Here is one of the turnbuckles in the back:



Note that I used hook to hook turnbuckles, which can be difficult to find in a hardware store. Also got these from McMaster.

And the finished product from the front:



I hope this information helps someone.
 

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Very cool - This is pretty nice work. I see you ran into the Jack storage door and AC Plug issues. I had to deal with these with my amp box, but gave them much more space than you did.
 

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I'm almost embarrassed! Nice job! I didn't make sliding drawers because of fear of losing stuff behind/under the drawer. I'll post pics of my box :cowtounge: in the next day or two!
 

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Nice post... I would like to do something like this too, but I don't got any skills :(

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Nice work, and I personally can't stand storage boxes! That's so nice, though, I would be happy to pimp it!

Nice job!
 

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very nice.
I have been building one for the last month it is all togeather I just need to take it back out and finnish the paint and rubber coating, And put a couple more screws in the rails. When I finnish it all I will post some pictures of mine.
 

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Very nice!
You will find many uses for your cargobox.
Mine has served me well since mid 2001.

I do not think I have seen those flat headed extension cords before, those are pretty cool too.

Excellent work on the box.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Absolutly beautiful. Exelent craftsman ship! Probbly the best home made mod for the Fj i've seen yet!
You wouldn't say that if you saw it up close :)
 
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Very nice, kinda bursted my bubble though... I was all proud of my tool (recovery box) but uh, all I did was rhino line an MK-19 Ammo box and make a few inside compartments.... Yours looks flippin awesome compared to what I did, funny thing is I'm a weekend carpenter and I never thought of wood, Doh!
 

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Thanks for sharing - it takes time to snap pix all along the way. It is much appreciated!
 

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Great instruction. Outstanding carpentary skills, IMO. I'll probably have to do this one day. And thanks to your post, all the brain damage involved in planning this out has been removed. Much thanks:)
 

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Really nice work Justin...it came out great. This is one of those ideas I have been kicking around for months.....I will go to school on you for this one - when I finally get around to it!

Rick
 
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