Ski Case For Pickup Truck

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Project by Wolfdrool posted 09-29-2013 09:43 PM 4087 views 2 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My son works at as a ski instructor at a local ski area and was looking for a better way to hold his skis in the back of our pick up truck so his new skis don’t bang around in the cargo bed and get damaged like his old ones did. Plus, I like and encourage that he wants to take good care of his equipment. He wanted to carry his skis inside the cargo area rather than outside on a rack. Our truck bed is covered with a folding tonneau cover and is 6 1/2 feet long with the tailgate closed. It’s roughly two feet deep top to bottom. So we had possibilities.

While ski season is some weeks away, his new skis arrived this week. So, we built the case barely a week into fall. Although we’re hoping for snow and itching to ski, I’m still mowing the lawn.

A google search failed to turn up anything to match what we wanted. My undaunted son then came up with the design shown here, and I just added the PVC rack as a bottom so skis can drain while stored. The case is made from 1/2 MDO plywood, PVC pipe, plumbing foam covers to cover the PVC pipe, and the big rubber floor tiles that were cut to provide the rubber lining. The whole assembly is very light. I’m guessing 25 pounds at most and probably less than that because the case is easy to carry when it’s empty and I’m no Hercules. It’s a simple project, certainly, but it looks like it will turn out to be a very useful “jig” for carrying skis. My younger son snowboards, so we may have to upgrade this case as noted below so it can carry skis and boards.

By the way, we have a thick, nonskid rubber mat on the cargo bed floor of the truck, and the box stays put when placed on that. We do keep the ski case fully against the front of the cargo box so it can’t slide forward in a fast stop. The box has not moved at all after driving around with it in back for a week. Time will tell whether I’ll have to strap it in place by tying off to cargo hooks.

The 1/2” MDO forms the box sides and ends. The bottom rails and stiles also were made from strips of MDO that are about 3 inches wide. We started with one 4×8 MDO sheet and did not even use it all. I’ve never used 1/2 inch MDO before, but it’s a nice product. With just sides and ends, it’s a little floppy. But add a frame to the bottom and its light, rigid, and strong.

The box is ten inches tall at the far end, and this is probably a couple inches more than is needed. The box is less tall, only 6 inches, at the loading end to make it easier to load and unload skis. The three side panels that fit between the ends are 72 inches. Since none of us have the potential to see over tall people sitting in front of us in a movie theater, this is plenty long for the skis that we are ever likely to own even taking into consideration the width of the rubber liner added to the inside as described below.

First, I ripped three ten inch wide blanks from the MDO for the three side panels using a circular saw on a guide rail. Then I crosscut these side panels to length (72 inches) using a miter saw. The end panels were cut to length from the crosscut “scrap.” Then I drilled the holes in the side panels that will support the PVC pipes. To do this, the three side panels were stacked in careful alignment and then the line of holes was drilled a couple inches up from the bottom for the PVC pipes. When installed, the array of pipes forms the rack that the skis rest on. I drilled these holes using a fence on a drill press so the holes line up nicely relative to the bottom edges of the side panels. The spacing between the holes is less critical, but I spaced these about 6 inches apart. Then I used a circular saw on a guide rail to cut the taper (10 inches down to 6 inches) on the side panels. In our week of driving around, the level array of PVC pipes supports the skis fine whether bundled as a pair and then stored or stored individually. So, in case you are wondering, it is not necessary to install the PVC pipes in a way that matches the camber of a ski which is a factor I did not think of until shortly before loading the first ski into the box after it was built. Good design happened in spite of the designer/builder.

After cutting all the panels, the case was then assembled with corrosion resistant pocket screws without glue. At this stage, the box was a little floppy. So I ripped a few 3 inch strips from the remaining MDO and used those to make the rails and stiles for the bottom frame. The frame was assembled and attached with pocket screws, too. Now the structure was light and strong.

Although the side panels meet the end panels at a very slight angle, I did not bevel the top edge of the edge panels to match. When assembled, this looks fine without any bevel. A few strokes of the plane to make a bevel, some patching to fix bad plane technique, then a few more strokes of the plane to try to fix the bevel problem, and hopefully no more patching could be used if one wants that level of perfection.

PVC pipes were cut so each end stuck out about one inch from the sides. I used 3/4 inch PVC pipe. In the short lengths and use involved here, this is plenty strong and rigid enough. 1/2 PVC is not nearly as suitable. Large pipe could be used, but then the box would need to be taller. Then PVC end caps were pressed on to hold the pipes in place. The fit is pretty secure, so I didn’t glue these. The PVC rack supports the skis well but is wide open to allow the skis to drain melting snow and slush while being stored. Thus, no water should pool in the bottom of the case except maybe a little in the corners between the sides and frame.

For a couple dollars. I bought a package of foam covers used to insulate plumbing pipes. After installing the rubber liner (described below), I cut the foam covers to length and fit them onto the PVC. While the foam covers are not needed to protect the ski bottoms from the PVC, the PVC on its own is pretty slippery whether your skis are waxed or not. The foam covers fix that. We had a couple 3 foot lengths of foam covers left over, so my son slips these over his poles and then puts those into the case with his skis.

I tried a couple techniques to line the case with upholstery foam that didn’t work too well before using the technique shown in the pictures. Per the pictures, I started with a package of 24×24 inch rubber floor tiles from a home improvement store. I won’t mention names, but their sign has a lot of orange in it and rhymes with Gnome Depot. I used a circular saw with a fine tooth blade supported on a guide rail to cut the tiles into strips 3.5 inches wide or so. I was a little worried that the rubber would catch the blade and kick the saw, but sandwiching the rubber between the guide rail and a firm table worked fine. After “ripping” the tiles to width, I crosscut the rubber to length on a power miter saw with a 90 tooth blade, again worried that the blade might catch the rubber. I did a test cut mitering off a hair thin slice to assess if there might be a kick, but there was none. So I crosscut the liners to length using the miter saw. The end rubber pieces were cut to fit the entire entire end panel except for half inch top and bottom. The rubber tiles cut very cleanly, like they came this size from the store. I’m a little surprised they cut so nicely. I’m still not convinced cutting the rubber like this is wise (I have visions that the blade will pick up the rubber like a spinning boat prop picks up a ski rope . . . based on what my friends tell me), but I’m tempted to use this technique more again, such as to line drawers where the contents could benefit from a rubber liner.

Here’s what’s interesting. The floor tiles are relatively inexpensive and therefore practical to use. But try to buy a rubber sheet of the same thickness and overall size from a plastics supplier and such other rubber is ridiculously priced. Impractically so.

Glue did not work well to install the rubber liners in the case. So, in the end after some noodling, we bought nonskid rubber bumpers that have a recess in the middle so they can be screwed onto their substrate without the screw head poking out above the rubber. We used a pair of these per trimmed rubber tile on the side panels as “clamps,” and they hold great. Plus they can be easily removed if needed. Plus they are soft enough not to damage the skis. A package of 4 of these costs just under $4 and we used 4 packages. These “clamps” were not needed to hold liners on the end panels. The end rubber liners are held in place by compression side to side and by being held against the end panels on their side edges by the rubber liners on the side panels.

Each side of the case is big enough to hold a pair of skis with the bottoms facing each other or a single ski with the bottom resting on the PVC rack.

The box took us about 3 hours to build on a Saturday. And we installed the rubber liner in about 1.5 hours the next day. Earlier that second day, we spent a couple hours on liner approaches that did not work.

If I were to build again, I might make the tall end only 8 inches or maybe 7 7/8 inches if I wanted to build two of these and be able to get six side panels from one MDO sheet. The case is so light, I might be tempted to make an upper box that is mounted to the lower one using a pair of Rockler torsion hinges. This way, we could carry 2 more pairs of skis on top or even (if the top box did not have a middle side panel) a couple snowboards. The top box if empty could be easily lifted to gain access to the lower box if needed. With torsion hinges, the lifted box would stay lifted so that a person could load and unload the bottom without also having to hold up the top box at the same time. The torsion hinges are advertised to provide this assist function for toy boxes, so why not toy boxes that hold skis?

2 comments so far

View spud72's profile


332 posts in 3973 days

#1 posted 09-29-2013 10:28 PM

Great Idea. Nice Job

-- Guy,PEI

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2654 days

#2 posted 10-02-2013 02:15 PM

Very resourceful and innovative. It’s a great way to protect and carry those skis. Can’t beat custom work to suit one’s needs. Great job!

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