Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

August 5, 2014

DIY Dog Platform for Back of Ram Truck Cab

Build an Upholstered Platform Dog Bed for Truck and SUV

I don't even know what to call this project, so let me just explain the problem it solved.  But first let me preface the explanation of that problem by professing my love for our truck.  It's practical for our rural life, especially in this part of the country (did you know there were 850 deer/vehicle collisions in the area for 2010?).  We have to bring our own garbage to the dump, and we obviously buy huge sheets of plywood in bulk (for projects like this, this, and this), so we've really come to rely on this guy - we even towed a stalled car and boat from the boat launch on the weekend!  Go us.  More importantly, I feel like a total badass driving such a tank.  It's a Ram 2500, which is pretty beefy.  People are (bizarrely) shocked that a woman can maneuver such a beast - with manual transmission to boot.  I love smashing ridiculous sexist stereotypes!  It helps make up for those times when I'm not the best feminist.

Ram 2500 Truck

Did I mention it's a sparkly dark grey with a hint of blue?  I bet you like it now, too!

Ram 2500 Truck Manual Transmission

Gushing aside, what I hate about the truck are the storage compartments under the rear seats.  We love that the seats flip up because it's a perfect spot for Szuka to ride, but then the random little in-floor storage compartments make putting any type of cargo in the back (like groceries) a nightmare because the surface is uneven so nothing stacks, piles or sits neatly.  We have to squash stuff into gaps.

Floor of Truck Cab Invconvenient when Seat Flipped Up? I Have a Solution!

Plus, it's lumpy for poor Szuka.  We tried to pile up a bunch of blankets to even up the floor, and then laid an old dog bed on top of the blanket heap, but after a bumpy ride to town and lots of squirming, she ends up with this (please ignore the mess - we cleaned it after I snapped this photo, I swear):

Make Traveling with a Dog Easier

To solve the problem, Hubby and I came up with an easy solution: an upholstered platform to place on the floor of the cab.

Now when we flip up the backseats, we have a perfectly flat surface which is also cushy for Szuka.  In a pinch, we can flip down the seats and someone can sit back there without us having to remove the platform - it just means that person's legs will be a bit higher than normal.  We rarely have passengers because we almost always have Szuka and she's a space hog, but we wanted a solution that wouldn't negate the possibility of giving someone a lift somewhere.  For longer car rides we can easily remove the platform and stash it somewhere.

Make Traveling with Dog in Pick Up Truck Cab Easier

Basically, we took a sheet of 3/4" plywood and cut it to fit the shape of the area.  Then we attached some wide legs with wood glue and screws so it wouldn't be tippy, and then attached  some brackets to catch on the cargo compartment edges, so the whole thing can't slide around.  Here's a peek at it's underbelly, and my explanation will all make sense:

Upholstered Pet Platform for Truck Cab
Make Custom Platform to Fit on Floor of Truck Cab when Seats Flipped Up

After building it, Hubby and I slapped on some quilt batting and then upholstered it with a durable fabric from Mom's fabric stash.  An outdoor fabric would work perfectly, but we had this on hand already.  We just did it quickly, but you can check out this post for a better upholstering tutorial.  One thing I did differently: once everything had been stapled tautly, I folded over the edge of the fabric and added some more staples so the frayed edges are hidden.

Upholstering Tips

A friend suggested we sew a quilt and then attach it with velcro so it's removable, but for now we just stapled it.  Next spring we'll likely remove the fabric and try my friend's suggestion (because it's genius!), but we have been itching for this solution and wanted it done right. this. minute.

Know the feeling?

I actually lost my cool bringing home groceries last week after the bags went toppling every which way.  I'm not even sure I put away the eggs before whipping out the staple gun.

Make a Platform for Dog for Truck Cab

In all likelihood, none of you will benefit from this project idea.  I almost didn't share but I thought that if there's even one person out there, at some point, who is looking for a solution to the same kind of problem that aggravated us, it will be worth posting these photos.  You could easily adapt this to fit any vehicle with flip up seats and under seat cargo nooks.

But, more importantly, I like that this project reminded me about the spirit of DIY.  Doing-it-yourself isn't always about knocking off someone's idea (although I love a good knock off), or trying to copy something less expensively.  Sometimes it's about finding a personal solution to a problem - making something when you can't find what you need or want on the market.  This isn't an incredibly pin-able project, or an especially genius one for that matter, but it's made our lives so much happier and simpler.  Now, if only we can DIY a way to keep Szuka from getting into trouble back there...

DIY Truck Cab Platform to Level Cab Floor When Seats Flipped Up

Now it's your turn: what's the weirdest, most personal, maybe most creative DIY project you've tackled?  I'd love to hear!!
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25 comments

  1. Great DIY project for an everyday problem. It's creative and fills a need. Nice job! :)

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    1. Thanks Michele! I can't believe how much easier my life is, thanks to this little piece of plywood :)

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    1. Haha, yep I definitely won't get rich from this idea ;P

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  3. I love useful DIYs! I'm sure the pup will love it.

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    1. She DOES!! She's a bit higher now so she can see out better, plus she's got more room to stretch out comfortably. I've noticed she's more settled on rides now. Yay!

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  4. This is such a great idea! It might be a little weird, but I love seeing other people's solutions to weird problems like this.

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    1. Me too! I'm always interested in things that make life a little easier.

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  5. i would leave the upholstery as is and velcro the quilt to the top. that way you can just rip it off for easy washing without removing the panel - and you have a clean padded surface for transporting furniture, mirrors, etc. stuff you may not want to slide against plywood.

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    1. Sherry, that's a FABULOUS idea!! It combines the best of both ideas. Thanks so much!!

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  6. I love this- it doesn't have to apply to everyone to be an interesting read. Sometimes things like this inspire creative solutions for others unique problems.
    Being a quasi-feminist (sometimes I'm not very good at it), I'm glad you drive the big manual truck for the reason you mention. I enjoy busting stereotypes- I loaned my car to my friend once and she delighted in telling me, amongst a crowd of coworkers, that she would have to pick it up as her husband didn't drive standard. Admittedly she was being a bit mean about it but I was delighted to hear a reversal of the norm. C'mon ladies, up your game and learn to drive manual transmission- I have an automatic right now and I hate it- I prefer standard, hands down.

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    1. You're right - sometimes a random project can inspire something totally different. I'm happy you still think it's a good read.

      I love that you can drive standard too! It's such a weird source of pride for me. I really enjoy driving and manual transmission enhances the fun for me. Plus I learned on a stick and for the longest time couldn't drive automatic - shifting was too ingrained. Although your friend was a touch insensitive, props to her for driving stick too :)

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    2. Oh, yes! My otherwise wonderful spouse has just burned out the clutch in my/our beloved 1996 Honda... Driving standard requires *finesse* -- i.e., the woman's touch!!! Meanwhile, we have an automatic transmission in our mother-carrying car (easier to get a walker into), and I'm about to put my left foot through the floorboards searching for the clutch every time I stop!

      Your solution to the behind-seat space is brilliant... and really a good starting place for those of us who need to pack construction/garden supplies into a sedan whose back seat backs don't fold completely flat.

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    3. Oh no! Clutch repairs are pricey.

      Sedan's are tricky for cargo. I've always been a hatchback kind of gal. Loved my 1992 Dodge Colt and when we shopped for our first new car, we bought a Nissan Versa. People made fun of us for buying such a dorky car, but it was perfect for us. We could easily bring home 8 ft lengths of lumber!

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  7. I think the weirdest thing I've made was a stand that holds your embroidery hoop while doing needle work. It would kind of clamp the top of the hoop and had a bunch of pieces of wood and bolts and butterfly nuts that allow you to angle and move the hoop to what is comfortable for you. You could pull it right up to the couch to use while watching tv and made it much easier as you could use both hands.

    Most personal I guess would be a Thomas The Tank table I made for my son when he was younger. He used to be obsessed with them but the tables were like $500. The ends of the table have arches like a train tunnel and I painted it to look like bricks and the top has roads, grass, trees, etc etc...and he would build his train tracks on top. I also made him a flip top desk and matching chair. On the outside they are beige and black, to match my decor......but when you flip it open I painted it with a big volcano on the underside of the top, and inside the desk part is grass and then I decoupaged dinosaurs in there. My son is now 16 and we still have use both of these......he uses the table in his room for his boy stuff and I use the desk for my plants in front of my sliding glass window.

    I also made 2 sets of shelves out of an old futon frame. I can't throw out perfectly good wood.

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    1. Why do you not have a DIY blog??? You are so inventive and so darn handy. The stand for the embroidery hoop sounds so clever - I could totally see using one. And the table you made for your son sounds like it was so much fun. I love the idea of the flip top desk matching your decor but having this crazy load of fun inside. I'm sure other parents would flip (haha) over that idea because kids' toys can be so clashy - your solution would make a lot of design-savvy parents super happy. I don't have kids but I can't help but love projects for kids and DIY toys.

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    2. I am actually thinking about starting a blog. I am taking pics of current projects as I do them but it just seems like a lot to learn and I'm not sure if I could keep it up. I'm a procrastinator (got that from my dad too along with the creative gene lol) so not sure if I would be able to do posts often enough to keep people coming back and do the things I like instead of just doing a post on anything to have something to post. I also have no clue how or where to start. I'm currently on a very tight budget so paying to have a blog or get photo editing software (if needed) is not an option right now.

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    3. I would read your blog! I'm happy to chat about behind the scenes stuff if you're curious. Just email me :) I don't pay for photo editing software - I use picmonkey.com. I also use blogger, which is free - although I really should get my own domain. The overhead can be free, if you want it to be. Also, there's a new trend in slower blogging and taking the time to do fewer projects well. Take YHL, for example, they've definitely slowed their pace. A weekly post with your awesome projects would be enough to make people check it - having a schedule helps (I'm terrible at keeping one) because then even if posts are minimal, people know when to check in.

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    4. Thanks for the offer. I actually took a quick look into picmonkey and couldn't figure out how to download and could only see the note to upgrade so you don't have ads....then I figured if you do use it you will have a picmonkey watermark on your pics if you don't pay for the upgrade. I quickly got frustrated and gave up but now I'm thinking you don't download and just do it right on the site. duh. I have little patience to figure out websites but could spend hours fixing up a picture, go figure. Is blogger this site.....blogspot? I might just have to get serious about it..just trying to get some projects documented first so I have at least a couple weeks worth of posts.

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    5. I don't pay for the picmonkey upgrade but my Hubby also has some kind of ad-blocker installed on my computer. The photos won't be watermarked. To edit photos, just click "edit" and then your source (I work from my computer) and then save back to your computer when you're done.

      I'm like you - I LOVE fiddling with photos. It's so relaxing.

      I do use blogger - it's free! And pretty easy to use. I wouldn't worry about banking projects. It will be a lot of work to create the posts all at once. Start whenever you're ready and add projects as you finish them - don't worry about time between posts. Spacing them out will help make the posts better because you'll have more time to work on them and will figure things out as you go - improving the look of posts and your site. Let it happen. Once you have a few posts online, you can start promoting them/joining link parties etc. Make sure your photos are "pin-worthy" - that helps (clear, crisp, nicely staged). It's a struggle to make things look as good in photos as in real life - at least for me.

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    6. Thanks for the info. Yeah the photos might be a toughy for me since I don't have a great camera but I did take a couple of photography classes back in school so maybe those will pay off even with a crappy camera lol.

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  8. Delurking to say: you are a GENIUS! I did the same thing in my husband's (also manual transmission) Nissan (not quite as badass as a RAM) pickup, so our dogs could have a comfortable ride - without all the bumpy junk on the floor. I've been reading your blog for a while after stumbling across your gorgeous kitchen at the Kitchn - and then you show those gorgeous gray concrete floors! We're building our own lakehouse in Northern Wisconsin and though my style isn't quite as MCM as yours (I skew more retro 40's) - I too, will have a gray concrete (technically epoxy over gypcrete) floor - with radiant heat. If you want to compare notes, (once we get to the floor part, we are just at electrical and plumbing rough-in), feel free to email me skaetzer (at) sbcglobal(dot)net. Thanks for all the gorgeous inspiration!

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    1. Hey, Wisconsin is pretty close! Maybe we should meet halfway in Minnesota one day for coffee - I feel like we'd have a lot to talk about :) I love that you built the same thing for the Nissan. It makes life so much easier, doesn't it?

      I definitely want to compare notes when your flooring is in. Do you have a blog? I think with your retro 40s style and impending gorgeousness situated on the lake you need one. I'll definitely email you in a little while and see how what stage you're at with the flooring. Is the epoxy over gypcrete preferable?

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  9. Tanya, A couple of days ago I watched Marketplace on CBC. They did a rerun on restraining devices for dogs in vehicles. Many devices were tested and none but one was able to restrain a dog in an accident. The main reason a dog is restrained is to prevent it from becoming a flying object and hurting (killing) you. I didn't see any method mentioned in the earlier version of this post so thought I would take this opportunity to do so. The first time I drove with our dog Bo we didn't have a restraining device. I had to brake suddenly and though he didn't go flying, he did hit his chest on the console and vomited several times enroute to our destination. From that day forward we always used one. Don't know (after watching CBC) if it would have done the job it was supposed to do but Szuka is so sweet I'd hate for something to happen to her. Check out the Marketplace website for the type of restraint device that does the job.

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    1. It's funny you mention this because Hubby and I have been talking a lot about it the last few days. We've been casually looking into devices. We had a near-miss with a deer and we all hurtled forward. Luckily, Szuka had been lying down and so she moved forward but braced herself and just sort of nudged the back of Hubby's seat. If she had been standing (which we discourage) I don't know...We try to keep her lying down but if we were to roll or worse, I am frightened of what could happen. Our close call was a wake up call - I've only had a wee little dog before, who traveled in her crate strapped down. I'm definitely going to look into them. I'd hate for Szuka to get hurt, but I'm even more fearful of one of us getting hit in the noggin with her 90+ pounds. Thanks for the extra motivation to get on this! (And poor Bo!! - that must have hurt.)

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