Steven's Simple, Specialized Carpentry Trailer

Specialization = Simplicity


USED FOR Carpentry
TYPICAL JOBS trim, cabinets, built-ins
BODY Enclosed Trailer, Flat Nose


Floor storage
Ceiling storage
Roof storage
Interior lights
Wired electric
Stand inside?

See more of Steven's Carpentry Services


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Carpenter’s Life

Steven's Carpentry Services

Atlantic Beach, FL USA

Steven is a carpenter in Florida who works out of his full-size pickup and a small 5'x8' trailer. His simple setup shows you can work out of a small carpentry trailer, although he recently upgraded to a carpentry van.

While Steven used to do framing and deck building, he's mostly transitioned to working with directly with customers on lighter interior projects such as trim, built-ins, cabinets, and shiplap.

His truck and trailer are truly a great example of how simple your setup can be if you specialize and think light.

Not a Ron Paulk Trailer

If you've seen enough carpentry and construction trailer builds, you know a lot of them are based on Ron Paulk's designs. However, Steven's carpentry truck and trailer build are not inspired by Ron Paulk, it's just what works for him. Although Paulk setups are very organized, they do take significant time to build, require investment in lots of plywood, and add a lot of weight to a van or trailer.

If you have a small trailer, a Paulk setup may not be the way to go, especially if the maximum weight rating of your trailer won't work with the amount of plywood you need for a Paulk build.

Simple setups like Steven's are easy to dismiss because there isn't a lot of fancy woodworking inside.

However, one of the important takeaways is that he specializes in particular carpentry work that allows him to carry fewer tools and materials. He hauls less weight, use lighter and smaller vehicles, and cultivates a reputation as an interior carpenter. We've seen this strategy used successfully in both one-man carpentry businesses and one-man HVAC businesses.

If you're a remodeler who needs to carry plumbing, electrical, sheetrock, carpentry, painting, and more tools on your tool trailer, consider for a moment:

What would happen if you niched-down and specialized in a subset of your field, particularly if you're a solo operator?

Easy Rolling

Steven's tools and the tool trailer are set up to roll as much as possible. This keeps him from lifting, bending, carrying, and setting up heavy tools without some mechanical assistance.

On opening the single barn door of the trailer, you'll notice the simple plywood ramp that Steven uses to get tools in and out. It is the full width and height of the door and would be lighter than a factory-installed trailer ramp.

His primary tool bag is a rolling model with a built-in, extending handle. There is a trend to tool backpacks in some trades, but those bags are very, very heavy when loaded with tools.

His Bosch miter saw is mounted to a rolling Chicago electric stand. The stand has sawhorse style legs and is wheeled at one end to enable it to transport both stand and saw handtruck-style.

A compact DeWalt table saw is secured in a wagon that can easily be loaded with other tools.

Steven says he can setup all his tools and be ready to work in 10 minutes.

Steven's Simple, Specialized Carpentry Trailer
Steven's Small and Simple Tool and Carpentry Trailer Image from Carpenter’s Life

Simple Table Saw Setup

Steven's table saw setup is simple and easy. The table saw is mounted to its stand. Two plastic Craftsman sawhorses and a 3/4" piece of plywood function as an outfeed table. The sawhorses fold up compactly and the length of plywood takes up practically no space inside the trailer.

The sawhorses and plywood happen to match the table saw height perfectly, making this a quick, simple setup.

Easy Charging Station

The charging station is a rectangle of plywood with a power strip and multiple chargers attached. It's not mounted to the trailer, and has a small handle so that he can carry it to his work area. He simply sets it up to charge batteries while he works.

The Pickup Truck

Steven keeps the tools he knows he'll use on every job easily accessible in the capped bed of his truck. Milwaukee Packout and DeWalt fastener organizers, a laser, stud finder, and drills are stored in small plywood shelf units.

The shelf units make it easier to grab tools and fasteners - if the organizers were stacked they would need to be unstacked to reach a fastener in the bottom organizer. The units are very simple and could be rebuilt quickly for different storage boxes, but this sort of thing saves time and frustration when you need to grab a couple of screws.

Where do materials go?

Like other trade specialists, he usually has materials delivered instead of hauling them himself. This can save significant amounts of time so that he can do carpentry rather than be a delivery driver. He says:

It's just more efficient for just doesn't make sense for me to take the time to go deliver that stuff.

For cabinetry, he prefers to assemble flat-packed cabinets himself and bring them to the job site with another trailer he owns.

Storage Shelf

Above the tools and fasteners, Steven built a carpeted shelf that runs the length of the pickup's bed. This is a great place to haul materials and doubles the storage surface area in the bed of the truck.

The ARE cap on the truck has tilt-up side windows that allow for bedside access to tools and materials. This reduces the amount of climbing and bending required to get things out of the bed of the truck.

The shelf in the bed is hinged from front to back, which means that Steven can stand at the bedside, open the window, tilt the shelf, and grab tools from the front of the bed.

Long Stuff

A long, contained cubby is created with a bed cargo bar that divides a few inches at the front of the bed. Steven keeps some long items here that are no longer than the bed width. They're easy to reach when the cap window is lifted.

Levels are stored out of the way on each side of the bed in recesses at the bed rails. Here, the levels are accessible and protected in a space that would otherwise be unused.

And Some Tools and Materials in Storage

Steven still keeps a small amount of inventory and tools in a storage space, but he says for the vast majority of the light carpentry jobs that he does, what he carries on the truck and trailer are enough.

Great build!

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