Drew's In-Betweener, 5x10, Small Carpentry Trailer
|BODY||Enclosed Trailer, V-Nose|
Drew uses his 5x10 Leonard V-nose tool trailer for carpentry.
Do you want to transition to a tool trailer?
This is a great example of taking some complicated tool trailer ideas and making them faster and easier to build
Drew built this trailer after his Harbor Freight rig became too small, but now he's building another with some of the ideas from this trailer. For small tool trailer ideas, this one has a workbench, large tool storage, and simple compartment-style organization.
Why Go Small?
There are two things that Drew likes about the size of this trailer:
First, his truck, a Toyota Tundra, has no problem pulling the weight. This can be a problem for some tool trailer builds that use lots of plywood, have lots of tools, and carry a lot of inventory.
For one thing, it's easy for a built-out and stocked tool trailer to be perilously close to the GVWR. A heavier tool trailer may also require you to have a larger truck that costs more to run and insure.
Second, the overall width of the trailer is as wide as his truck. This makes it easy to maneuver and is especially beneficial on narrow roads. If you're a beginner trailer driver, going with a skinny trailer can help you learn the ropes of trailering.
Drew's Organization Evolutions
If building a tool trailer is daunting, consider working your way up by starting small, like Drew:
His first trailer was a 4x8 Harbor Freight trailer. He added a plywood deck and pipe brackets to mount a ladder rack. He used six plastic bins to store his tools, but found he needed to upgrade his trailer after his tools outgrew it.
This trailer is on its second iteration of organization. It's a little on the small side for typical tool trailer size, but is also a size that many carpenters like. It does not have space for hauling cabinetry or large workpieces.
He's now outgrown this trailer and is building a larger 6x12 tool trailer.
If you specialize within a particular trade, it's easier to organize and work out of a smaller vehicle.
You can see these two ends of the spectrum by taking a look at Nick and Archie. Nick, an HVAC tech, has a massive trailer that he uses for HVAC and home renovation. Archie, a carpenter, uses a small trailer for custom carpentry jobs.
How Much Plywood?
Plywood shelf builds can add a literal ton of weight to your trailer! Excess weight can be particularly bad for a smaller trailer, but Drew kept the weight down by building large compartments and no drawers.
While there are fewer dedicated cubbies and a little less organization, he built most of the organization with 6 sheets of 19/32" plywood!
Instead of Drawers
Many tool trailers use drawers to organize tools and inventory, but they have some downsides:
- Drawers can add a lot of weight.
- You can't see into a drawer without pulling it out.
- They take a lot of time to build.
Instead, Drew uses plastic bins to store tools. They are held on shelves behind a lip and he can completely remove a bin if he wants to pick through it.
Shelves have lots of upsides, as well, but this is a setup that works for Drew.
Ramp Door Vs. Barn Doors
While many contractors like a ramp door, Drew says that, for him, it just wasn't practical. Drew says:
I just prefer this. I don't have anything so heavy it has to be rolled off all the time.
He needs to park in some tight spots sometimes, and it's sometimes impossible to drop a ramp door after parking.
With barn doors, you can often open them after parking since they have less swing than a ramp. In a really tight spot, you can open barn doors before parking, then back into your spot.
If you're on the fence, read more about ramp doors vs. barn doors.
Heavy and Bulky Tools at the Back
If you have a small tool trailer, storing heavy and bulky tools at the back will make it a lot easier to remove them for the workday. Storing them further up means that you need to carry or wheel them down a narrow aisle.
Drew has a single large slot at the rear that holds his:
- table saw stand
- 2 sawhorses
- 2 roller stands
- folding table
This single slot design makes it convenient to grab these items right from the back of the trailer. Some tool trailers use multiple slots to store items, but this design pattern can take up space and add extra plywood weight if used too frequently in a trailer.
A Ridgid miter saw under the large slot shelf is held in place with plywood cleats. The saw's feet clamp the cleats and keep the saw in place while driving.
A Bosch table saw occupies the floor on the other side of the trailer. It's held in place with 2x4 blocks.
Make Those Cubbies Adjustable
Drew used some Ron Paulk-style cubbies to store some of his tools. Usually these cubbies use vertical plywood dividers that fit into routed channels in the shelf above and below it. With multiple channels, you can have cubbies that are any width you want.
This is a lot of extra work and Drew did not do it, though he says he wishes he had the adjustability. Many of the cubbies are snug, so changing to a different model of tool or adding a hook to it may make the cubby too small!
Big Workbench in a Tiny Trailer
Having a workbench in your trailer makes it even more useful. This is a great spot for small jobs, opening organizers, keeping tools and parts for the day, and having a temporay spot to put things.
Drew's workbench is backed with a pegboard wall. Since normal pegboard hooks would bounce off the wall while driving, he found some deep hooks that mount to pegboard with a single screw.
While he probably could do away with the pegboard altogether, using its holes keeps this tool organization looking neat and hides unused screw holes in the plywood behind the pegboard.
A ladder rack on the roof of the trailer is long enough to haul 16' pieces of trim. Drew needs to use his 4' step ladder to reach the materials and ladders on the roof rack.
The ladder rack is make of aluminum brackets that he bought online, plus polyurethaned 2x4s for the cross bars.
Every tradesperson starting out needs a vehicle. Some start with a pickup, others start with a trailer, and others start with a van. This trailer shows one step in Drew's evolution to better tool organization.