For a long time I looked for an affordable workshop in the city, only to realize that really was not an option at all. Instead I ended up turning my truck into a mobile workbench and workshop on wheels that I can drive anywhere to have a relaxed day building stuff in nature.
The workbench was built completely from recycled materials that I got from a guy who had just purchased a house with an old coop in the garden he did not want.
I hope this shows an option for those of us living in the city who still want a workspace for crafting, woodworking or metalworking. I use this truck as a hybrid between camper van, adventure vehicle and work truck and it has proven to be well worth the 3,000€ I paid for it.
The build process
Building this truck workbench was pretty straight forward, in essence it is nothing other than a basic table but thanks to the materials I used it is stiff and sturdy and I have great fun using this setup.
If you want to watch the build process I made a video along the way, but you can also read on for the details and what I did.
After some consideration I settled on a workbench depth of 50cm that seemed like the right size to work on without taking up too much bed space. In fact one of the really nice aspects of this construction is that it barely exceeds the wheel wells and leaves the belt hooks accessible so I can still tie things down when I have to.
The top board is made from layered plywood that is really strong and already survived out in the open as part of the animal coop for many years without any issues, just like the wooden beams that I used for the underconstruction. This was important to me as I have to park the truck out in the open – if I had a garage I wouldn’t have had to build a mobile workshop in the first place. At the hardware stores around me you can expect to pay 70€ for a large enough sheet of plywood and it wouldn’t have even been this good, thick and strong kind.
I rested the board on top of the side walls (that just so happen to have the perfect working height for me) and build a very basic construction from the beams. It’s basically just two legs with a cross-beam for added stability, but this is so sturdy that the workbench does not wobble at all.
Since no workbench is really complete without a vise of some sort I bought an el-cheapo when a discounter chain offered them for fifteen bucks and bolted it down. I am amazed that it is possible to turn a profit from a vise that costs just fifteen bucks, but I’m not complaining. This is the one thing I don’t like that much, left out in the elements the vise is on the slow way to destruction but I have not really figured out a good alternative and after months the vise is a little rusty but still works just fine.
On the outer side I fastened the board to the sidewalls simply by screwing another piece of wood into it and then screwing the board into that, just like I fastened the legs to the bed. This was a little cheaper than buying metal 90°-things and I had the material on hand, quite happy with this so far.
In the end this whole project was very simple and cheap to make and works much better than I expected it to, I’ve had it for a couple months now and built some fun things with this setup. I mostly do scrap art since we go magnetfishing a lot and that produces a lot of scrap metal that can be either scrapped or turned into something cool. Just recently for example I built this table made from magnetfishing finds, it’s all old bicycle rims, a traffic sign and a discarded car tire and I really like how that turned out:
Coupled with replacing the rear seats with a bed-trunk for sleeping and underneath tool storage I ended up with a highly practical setup that allows me to camp out in nature and build cool stuff whenever I need to get away from the city for a day or two.
I hope you found this post interesting, I sure get a lot of enjoyment out of this mobile workbench and can recommend it to anyone thinking about buying a van or truck as a hobby or adventure vehicle. I learned that I don’t actually need as much space as I originally expected so I get away with this hybrid use of a truck as compared to my original idea of buying a van with solid walls.
Let me know what you think and if you are interested in watching the truck in action give our youtube channel a look!