DIY: Homemade Camp kitchen and drawer system build by an every day Joe

sjstar

Member
Hey guys,
The main reason for my post is to share with you my rear drawer/kitchen setup that I built for my JKU. I want to inspire others that day dream about the great overlanding organization systems sold but either don't have the funds or have a wife that would ******** a brick if you even brought up the price. Don't get me wrong those systems are so nice but my eyes are bigger than my wallet. Hopefully I can share with you my build and get you thinking about going out to the garage and building yourself one. The main reason for myself to build a organization system is just that.... to stay organized. When most everyone goes camping you tend to bring a lot of stuff and like many vehicles the only option is to just stack stuff on top of stuff. That sure makes getting to those items at the bottom a real pain. Especially when the bottom item is always a cooler. Another great key to the system I made is its all modular. So first I cut a piece of .5" high grade plywood as the entire floor and layered it in carpet. This creates a base for your system to sit on and bolt down to. So my two sides are separate from each other, this allows me to leave just the fridge side in most of the time and when my drawer side out in storage it is also where I store all my camping gear that I would normally have in it.
The best way of tackling a project is to spend the time and think of :
What do I need to take camping?
What do I want to put in drawers?
What layout is going to work best for my setup?
What do I need to fit in the drawers, as that might dictate how tall each drawer is?

Then once you have your idea in mind take a notepad and try and sketch out the measurements. This will make it soo much easier when it comes time to cut your material because you can cut it all at once and then assemble it.

The stores I used for the project were:
Home Depot for the 1/2" plywood, screws, glue, and carpet (made 100% out of used plastic bottles)
Mcmaster.com for the drawer slides, and track tie down system
Amazon for the latches


The ride side uses a 50qt. ARB fridge mounted on a 26" locking open/closed drawer slide with a 24" drawer underneath that houses the legendary/inexpensive Coleman stove. The wooden drawer that houses the Stove is lined in a thin sheet of aluminum to aid in clean up and prevent the wood from being exposed to fire. The fridge/drawer system is housed in an open back and front dog house to allow you to place items on top of it while allowing the cooler to slide out.
The left side is made of three drawers: the lower is a 30" drawer, middle is 17" and the top is 24". The lower drawer houses the pots and other kitchen equipment, the middle houses most of the dry foods, and the top is misc. camp equipment. The middle drawer is only 17" deep because behind the seat is a 6 gallon water jug that is "frenched" into that back of the cabinet. It had to be up above the lowest drawer because that elevation allowed me to get enough gravity water pressure in the hose not to have to run a pump. The drop down table I also made myself is a piece of carbon fiber that I got from an old Lockheed Martin assembly building (I have sheets of it). That works really well and looks cool too. On my ARB Fridge I also sewn on a piece of stretch material so I could keep my big pan and cutting board housed there. Pelican trekpak is a great product to by for drawer dividers but I came up with a DIY version. I used a product call Skudo (coroplast sheets will also work, you can get this from many construction supply stores) and some garden drip system Ustakes to keep the sections together. The Skudo or Coroplast comes in sheets and I used a table saw to cut the desired pieces. The homemade dividers is very very similar to the trekpak and works really really wellMaking the dividers is really easy and very easy to adjust too.
IMG_1171[1].JPGIMG_1393[1].JPGIMG_1406[1].JPGIMG_1408[1].JPGIMG_1349[1].JPG
 

BradS

New member
Truly inspiring. Looks about the right level of engineering that I'm willing to take on. I already made a plywood platform for my fridge, but there certainly is shortcomings to the stacking method of cramming the rest of your camping stuff in the remaining area.
I've got a roof top tent, awning, fridge/slide, etc. Weight is adding up (at least 300lbs listed). What do you figure your setup weighs? Did you need to do anything with your suspension setup to deal with the added weight? I'm considering air bags or sumo springs from what I already carry, nevermind the drawers/etc that I want to put in there.
 

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sjstar

Member
Thank you. Its been a constant evolvement since 2016. Trips to Moab, Rubicon, Mojave road have given me time to experiment with my organization system. My first system was just a cooler I had around mounted on some drawer slides (reused these slides on the drawer that houses the stove) in a dog house. It worked great always left it in the jeep, made for great storage of groceries to keep them from rolling around. My drawer system back then was simple, we went to target and got a plastic drawer system that fit in the back of the jeep next to the cooler dog house. It worked perfect and I put a ton of miles on that system. It worked great and would still work fine if I didn't need to redesign the entire thing for one of my favorite additions the ARB Fridge. What I am getting at in this post is don't be discourage by prices and top quality builds that you cant have, put something together that works just the same way. It is so rewarding to make something and see it work.
In regard to weight, its actually not all that heavy. I know the 3 drawer side by itself when I pull that out is no more than 25 pounds. I used inexpensive ball bearing slides on that side to try and keep the weight down. All wood in the system is .5" plywood so the drawers themselves are super strong. When its loaded yes its got some weight to it but if you are comparing the same amount of stuff in the jeep with no storage system vs. with the storage system I would say there might be a 60lb difference. I will weigh it sometime, I am curios on the exact numbers too.
Yea I love the idea of the roof top tents but in order to have one its just too much weight up there for my liking on top of the other draw backs of them. So yes I have had a give in take on the jeep as far as what is important. As far as suspension, I am actually running Evo King coilovers which allows me to change spring rates and adjust the spring collars to the desired height. They do take a good amount of playing with to get the jeep to sit level at all 4 corners but now that I have had it loaded with camp gear and then off loaded it looks like the rear of the jeep sits about 2" higher in the rear than in the front when it only has the fridge and stove in it. Those items I plan just to leave in there all the time.
I like to try and do a mix of everything with my jeep so its a mix of overland rig/ rockcrawler/ desert prerunner. For me it does a good job at those items and I am continually improving it.
 

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sjstar

Member
Remember also you don't have to be a master carpenter, wrapping the system in carpet not only gives your gear some protection/ sound absorption it hides any little imperfections.
 
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cody_roberts

New member
Thank you. Its been a constant evolvement since 2016. Trips to Moab, Rubicon, Mojave road have given me time to experiment with my organization system. My first system was just a cooler I had around mounted on some drawer slides (reused these slides on the drawer that houses the stove) in a dog house. It worked great always left it in the jeep, made for great storage of groceries to keep them from rolling around. My drawer system back then was simple, we went to target and got a plastic drawer system that fit in the back of the jeep next to the cooler dog house. It worked perfect and I put a ton of miles on that system. It worked great and would still work fine if I didn't need to redesign the entire thing for one of my favorite additions the ARB Fridge. What I am getting at in this post is don't be discourage by prices and top quality builds that you cant have, put something together that works just the same way. It is so rewarding to make something and see it work.
In regard to weight, its actually not all that heavy. I know the 3 drawer side by itself when I pull that out is no more than 25 pounds. I used inexpensive ball bearing slides on that side to try and keep the weight down. All wood in the system is .5" plywood so the drawers themselves are super strong. When its loaded yes its got some weight to it but if you are comparing the same amount of stuff in the jeep with no storage system vs. with the storage system I would say there might be a 60lb difference. I will weigh it sometime, I am curios on the exact numbers too.
Yea I love the idea of the roof top tents but in order to have one its just too much weight up there for my liking on top of the other draw backs of them. So yes I have had a give in take on the jeep as far as what is important. As far as suspension, I am actually running Evo King coilovers which allows me to change spring rates and adjust the spring collars to the desired height. They do take a good amount of playing with to get the jeep to sit level at all 4 corners but now that I have had it loaded with camp gear and then off loaded it looks like the rear of the jeep sits about 2" higher in the rear than in the front when it only has the fridge and stove in it. Those items I plan just to leave in there all the time.
I like to try and do a mix of everything with my jeep so its a mix of overland rig/ rockcrawler/ desert prerunner. For me it does a good job at those items and I am continually improving it.
I have to ask , are the intensity lights worth the money? I love the look but jesus they are exspensive. Also I love your system going to try and copy it , not sure I'm too confident building drawers though.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

sjstar

Member
I have to ask , are the intensity lights worth the money? I love the look but jesus they are exspensive. Also I love your system going to try and copy it , not sure I'm too confident building drawers though.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
To answer your question, They are the knock of ones. I have some background in Desert racing where you spare no expense on lighting and you basically race as fast as you can see. But Jeeps really aren't that fast and these ARB knock offs are plenty bright for my rig and the night time desert driving that I have and do with it. If I had the money just sitting around for the ARB lights I would still probably spend else where.
Cody have confidence in yourself and just start by taking a seat in a chair and looking at the back of your jeep. Dream about what would work for you then starting drawing and taking measurements. Its not something you are going to bust out in a day. But spend an hour or so every few days and think up the detail.
I am here to share how I built mine with little experience and help those get inspired to make their own too.
 

OregonJKU

Active member
Hi sjstar, looks fantastic! We're thinking about doing something similar. BTW how did you secure the plywood floor to your jeep?
 

sjstar

Member
Hi sjstar, looks fantastic! We're thinking about doing something similar. BTW how did you secure the plywood floor to your jeep?
The floor actually isn't secured at all to the floor of the jeep. Toward the rear of the jeep on the sides there is some curves in the plastic if you stick some painters tape down in those areas and trace it you can then transfer to your plywood. Also when you measure your plywood for your floor if you get your measurement really precise when you flip your backseat up into the upright position the seat bracketry will also pinch the plywood down. So between the snug fit following the contours of the plastic edges in the back and the sandwiching of the plywood behind the backseat that plywood cant move anywhere. It has worked great so far. I think my fridge slide loaded has to weigh around 150 pounds and when its fully extended out nothing budges.
 

sjstar

Member
I added some hold down straps to my pans and plates. The plates I used a small bungee cord. I just cut one end off, drilled a hole then tied a knot, the other side hooks on an eye-lit. The pans I used a velco synch strap that I cut down to length, installed some grommets, then those down to the base of the drawer.
 

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OregonJKU

Active member
The floor actually isn't secured at all to the floor of the jeep. Toward the rear of the jeep on the sides there is some curves in the plastic if you stick some painters tape down in those areas and trace it you can then transfer to your plywood. Also when you measure your plywood for your floor if you get your measurement really precise when you flip your backseat up into the upright position the seat bracketry will also pinch the plywood down. So between the snug fit following the contours of the plastic edges in the back and the sandwiching of the plywood behind the backseat that plywood cant move anywhere. It has worked great so far. I think my fridge slide loaded has to weigh around 150 pounds and when its fully extended out nothing budges.
I see. OK thank you.
 

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