Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring #45: Harbor Freight Folding Utility Trailer Build

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Blog entry by Paul Bucalo posted 06-24-2015 03:34 PM 28447 reads 3 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 44: Franken-Rack gives life to Harbor Freight trailer Part 45 of Woodworking on a Half-Shoestring series Part 46: Sewing Thread Spools & Bobbins Rack: Fully Populated »

I have been busy with multiple woodworking related and household projects this Spring, which is mainly why I haven’t been on Lumberjocks in that time. Previously I posted two small projects worth mentioning. I am currently working on a commission for a new neighbor. One project that consumed a month of my time was the building of the Harbor Freight 4’x8’ Folding Utility Trailer with a custom-made stake bed.

I needed to be able to haul 4’x8’ sheet goods from the box stores to the workshop, pallets from around the area, equipment too big for the insides of my SUV, and of course junk to the landfill and recycling centers. The Franken-Rack I built last year was a temporary fix that gave mixed results. It was time to get that trailer I always wanted and desperately needed.

Here is the finished trailer, less some tie-down hardware I have been too preoccupied to screw into place.

For those of you interested in how this was assembled (the HF kit) and the construction of the stake bed, Let me know and I will point you to my Goggle+ posts that show over 50 images of the build from start to finish. I am only adding the walk-around here.

I build the stake bed with a dual-gate design. The hinged gate is enough for sheet goods and some items that might be longer than the 8’ bed length.

Carabiners are used to secure the hinged gate’s latches when the stake gate is used, otherwise I can use the padlocks when without.

To minimizer flex in the stake bed side and keep them from compressing when tie-downs are torqued tightly across from side to side, I created cross braces that sit atop of the top horizontal frame and latch into the stakes via sliding latches. To keep the latches in place, carabiners are used. Effective. Simple in design. So far, fool proof and very convenient when I need to remove them or store them inside the SUV.

Here are some pre-finished pictures of the trailer in use. You can see the racks sides, tailgate and stake end are unfinished, but this shows how the rear end can be accessed.

Two ancillary devices were purchased that have been very helpful. The first is the swing-away trailer jack, seen in the finished project pictures. The second has become a necessity since I can’t back into my driveway and need to disconnect and move around the trailer by hand.

This trailer and stake bed have been an interesting project and challenge. I had some unexpected problems during assembly. How to build the stake bed to fit my needs was not obvious and took some out of the box thinking. For instance, the trailer dimensions are exactly the same as a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood, which required half-lapping the first rail into the stakes to keep the inner dimensions the same. I also wired it differently, seeing as this will never be folded and can’t be as I built it. The trailer does not come with washers or lock-washers, with a handful of exceptions, so about 200 of each were purchased. Extra hardware alone cost half again the price of the trailer kit. When done, this cost me a little over $400.00. Not bad, compared to the competition.

Would I recommend the trailer kit? Most definitely. Be prepared to upscale. Anyone interested in how to do that, let me know.

-- -- Paul @ PMB Creative Works

9 comments so far

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 1476 days

#1 posted 06-24-2015 07:59 PM

looks like you now have an excellent piece of kit at your disposal.
This investment will surely pay for itself in good time.
Cheers, Jinky (James).

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

638 posts in 1261 days

#2 posted 06-26-2015 12:26 PM

looks like you now have an excellent piece of kit at your disposal.
This investment will surely pay for itself in good time.
Cheers, Jinky (James).

- jinkyjock

Thanks, James. I’m happy to say it already has shown its worth. Later this summer I will be hauling a lot of junk out of the dungeon to make more room for the workshop and free us of the slavery in packratting. :) It does well in hauling pallets and reclaimed lumber. Looking forward to seeing what it can do.

-- -- Paul @ PMB Creative Works

View handsawgeek's profile


643 posts in 1297 days

#3 posted 06-26-2015 05:23 PM

Great project, Paul.
A perfect alternative for those of us who don’t (or no longer) have a truck

-- Ed

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

638 posts in 1261 days

#4 posted 06-26-2015 06:09 PM

Great project, Paul.
A perfect alternative for those of us who don t (or no longer) have a truck

- handsawgeek

My old Chevy Blazer gets treated like a truck, and does a surprising amount of odd-ball lugging. When the goods to be hauled were too wide, long or tall, I was out of luck. The trailer has already been a godsend. Even though I do have plans on getting a truck (later this year or early next) I can honestly say I don’t have the driving urge right now. That’s worth something right there.

-- -- Paul @ PMB Creative Works

View tommypotatoes's profile


1 post in 709 days

#5 posted 03-10-2016 04:34 PM

How strong do you figure those cross braces are? I’m twiddling with the same trailer and want to carry a canoe on the top of it. What are your thoughts?

View Schutz's profile


1 post in 619 days

#6 posted 06-08-2016 09:02 PM

Hello Paul,
I am wondering if there is a way that I could connect with you to get the pictures on how you built your trailer. I would like to build something very similar. Thanks. Schutz

View metallicvett's profile


1 post in 336 days

#7 posted 04-04-2017 02:15 PM

Are you still able to share the google+? I’m new to this, and I don’t know what metal brackets you used.

View matt176's profile


1 post in 177 days

#8 posted 08-24-2017 03:09 PM

I am also interested in more information about this build. Can you please send me the link? Thanks in advance.

View splintergroup's profile


1864 posts in 1124 days

#9 posted 08-24-2017 05:19 PM

I have a 16’ x 6’ twin axle trailer that I use for big stuff, but a trailer that size sure would be handy for so many things that make hitching up and pulling the twin axle a real downer. Those staked sides add to the usefulness 10x.

Nice job!

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