Putting Wooden Sides On A Utility Trailer

JGaulard

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I've got a total of three trailer projects for you to browse in this thread. The first and third are excellent for all around usage, but the second one is only good under certain circumstances. The first project is great for hauling leaves, dirt, mulch, and all that, because the sides are solid and the loose material won't fall out as you're driving. The second project calls for lightweight luan, which gets ruined when wet, so be careful with that. The third variation uses waterproof, long lasting pressure treated decking. along with angle iron, which is an incredible solution for hauling furniture and large items (pianos, lawnmowers, etc...). But since there are gaps in its construction, it wouldn't be suitable for dirt, leaves, and things like that.

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Three Wooden Trailer Sides Options

1. Solid Plywood & 2"x4" Trailer Sides
2. Lightweight Luan Trailer Sides
3. Heavy Duty Decking Trailer Sides

All of the following options are totally DIY that you can handle yourself. I bought everything I used right at my local Home Depot. Be sure to bookmark this page for future usage and please share on social media. That would help me out a lot!

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I am sure you are all just thrilled about my new utility trailer. I know I am. I have been having dreams about driving around with it.

Yesterday, I went to Home Depot in Windham to pick up a bunch of supplies. The project was to put wooden sides on the new trailer, so mulch and stuff like that doesn’t fall out. I also wanted wooden sides to kind of shield anything I am towing from bad weather.

I bought a lot of stuff, including plywood, bolts, nuts, washers, drill bits, spray paint, a tarp, a ball for the lawnmower hitch, etc… I have found that purchasing the entire box of bolts is a lot better than buying them individually. I am always looking for nuts and bolts and now I might just have some.

I was confronted with a little issue while browsing for the plywood I was going to use for this project. I went in the store with every intention of getting two sheets of 3/4″ pressure treated plywood. I left with two sheets of 1/2″ non-pressure treated plywood. The reason for this? Well, I was going to seal whatever I got up with Thompson’s Water Seal anyway. I have had good luck with sealing natural wood up and it’s weathered the environment. With the 1/2″ sheets going for about $11 each, I just couldn’t pass it up. Plus, I wanted to keep things light on the trailer. It’s really not intended for heavy-duty towing.

Here, let me show you the photos and then we can talk about them.

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Okay, the first thing I would like to discuss is how great the trailer looks with the John Deere lawn mower. I bought a 1 7/8″ ball with a 3/4″ shaft yesterday, just for this occasion. I am going to have fun towing stuff around the yard now.

The wooden sides came out better than I thought. I planned on drilling a bunch of holes through the steel and really anchoring the wood down to the trailer. As it ends up, once everything was framed, I didn’t need to do that. I only actually drilled two holes in the steel towards the back of the trailer. Now, all I need to do is to take those two bolts out and the whole wood unit comes right out. It’s as snug as a bug in a rug and rock solid. You really should check it out. Everything is straight too. Wait, I lied…I drilled six holes on the ramp to hold that one piece of plywood all the way at the back. Whoops.

I also picked up a nice heavy duty tarp to cover whatever I have on the trailer. You can see that it is brown. I really hate those ugly blue tarps. They are a disgrace to look at and doesn’t help out the neighborhood if I have to cover something up, like a wood pile. From now on, brown tarps it is.

Home Depot didn’t have any Thompson’s Water Seal. After building this today, I am kind of glad. I decided that I can paint the wood black and things will match much better. If I pop the wood portion out and slop on some black Rust-Oleum, it will look a lot less than some home-made trailer rolling down the road. I will cruise in style.

Just as I was finishing up, Laura pulled in the driveway. I told her I had a surprise for her and held her hand as I helped her in the trailer. She sat down and I hopped on the mower. Then, I proceeded to drive her around the yard. We looked like total idiots, but I will tell you, that stuff is fun. I guess we didn’t look any worse than when she pulled me around the yard right afterwards. Man, I have been trying to get that girl on this lawnmower ever since I got it. Strange how she hopped right on today. Maybe it has something to do with the weather.

I need to pick up that black paint. I’ll take some more pics when it’s all finished and sealed up.

What's the Best Wood to Use for Trailer Sides?​

I often get asked what's the best wood for trailer sides and I'd have to say that depends on the size of the trailer. If you're building sides for your utility trailer, you'll definitely want to use pressure treated wood; both plywood and 2x4s. If your utility trailer is small, something like a 5'x8', then you can use 1/2 inch plywood or even a bit thinner than that, depending on what you're going to be hauling. If you've got a larger trailer that you'd like to add wood sides to, something like a 7'x14', then you can use 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch plywood, especially if you're going to haul motor vehicles like cars, ATVs, or snowmobiles. The trailer sides will likely get beat up a little bit and it's better to have them thicker and be able to withstand the abuse. But more importantly, the wood have to be weather resistant. I have heard good things about marine plywood if you can afford that.
 
JodyBuchanan

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Your lawn tractor received the hitch ball without modification? I have a zero turn Gravely which comes with a trailer hitch mount, but the hole is like 1/2 inch. I bought a 1-7/8 ball with the skinniest shank I could find, and it’s still way too big for the hole on the Gravely, which is I think 1/2 inch. My intention is to pull a very light duty trailer around the yard. It’s so light that my 6 year old can lift the tongue without any problem.
 
JGaulard

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You know, for the life of me, I can’t remember. I’m almost sure I didn’t modify the hole. I believe it was large enough. I know for a fact that it was bigger then 1/2″. You may have to drill yours out, if you’ve got the extra material around it.

Actually, I know I didn't modify it because I was pulling that trailer around before I got my John Deere bagger. I just saw a photo of the bagger and the hole wasn't modified or drilled out in any way.
 
KristinaW

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On my craftsman, I just punched a hole to the left of the main hole and put a ball on. Its not exactly in the middle but it really doesn’t have to be if your just pulling it around the yard. The trailer will go straight anyway…
 
JGaulard

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KristinaW said:
On my craftsman, I just punched a hole to the left of the main hole and put a ball on. Its not exactly in the middle but it really doesn’t have to be if your just pulling it around the yard. The trailer will go straight anyway…
Good idea. Like you said, it really doesn’t matter where the hole is. At the speed the tractor is moving, there’s no worry.
 
15Katey

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Jay,

I need to add sides to my trailer as the leaves are starting to come down and I really don’t feel like taking 1000 trips to the transfer station like last year. Your pictures are great but I can’t tell how the back is secured in between the sides. I also can not see where you attached the sides to the trailer. Do you have details on hardware and materials? Any info is appreciated.
 
JGaulard

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15Katey said:
I need to add sides to my trailer as the leaves are starting to come down and I really don’t feel like taking 1000 trips to the transfer station like last year. Your pictures are great but I can’t tell how the back is secured in between the sides. I also can not see where you attached the sides to the trailer. Do you have details on hardware and materials? Any info is appreciated.
Hi Katey,

If you look at the fourth picture down, you’ll see a 2×4 running across the rear deck of the trailer, right in front of where the gate attaches. I put that board there so the sides wouldn’t be flimsy and it really worked. I also bolted the trailer sides to the frame in the rear as well. If you look above the license plate in the area of the gate pin on the left side, you’ll see the metal trailer frame. I drilled holes through the frame and through the wood on both sides, front and back. That’s where I attached everything together. So those bolts coupled with the 2×4 screwed to the trailer floor, in between the sides, really made the whole thing rock solid. The bolts through the frame and 2x4s stopped the sides from caving in and the 2×4 on the floor stopped the sides from pushing apart.

Let me know if you have any more questions. I’m happy to help.

Jay
 
EmeraldHike

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Did you cut the plywood in half for the sides?
 
JGaulard

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EmeraldHike said:
Did you cut the plywood in half for the sides?
Hi,

The trailer was 5’x8′, so the sides were about 2 foot tall. I just ripped a 1/2″ piece of plywood lengthwise. I then framed the sides out with pressure treated 2″x4″s. Very important to frame the sides out or you run the risk of having flimsy sides. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Jay
 
Cameron

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Thanks so much for posting this bro! You have the exact, same trailer I just bought and I’m using mine for landscaping equipment. I just want to walls but this is a great help.
 
JGaulard

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Cameron said:
Thanks so much for posting this bro! You have the exact, same trailer I just bought and I’m using mine for landscaping equipment. I just want to walls but this is a great help.
No Problem. Glad I could help.
 
Cameron

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What size is the trailer?
 
JGaulard

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Cameron said:
What size is the trailer?
Hi Cameron,

This was a little 5×8 trailer.

Jay
 
CampFireJack

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Hi Jay,

I have a 5×10 utility trailer that weighs about 700lbs. I have been wondering how much my John Deere LA135 can tow. I don’t want to damage the transmission. Filled with mulch I can see the trailer weighing 1,500lbs. Any idea?
 
Cameron

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CampFireJack said:
Hi Jay,

I have a 5×10 utility trailer that weighs about 700lbs. I have been wondering how much my John Deere LA135 can tow. I don’t want to damage the transmission. Filled with mulch I can see the trailer weighing 1,500lbs. Any idea?
You will burn that motor up in no time, provided the tractor will even pull it.
 
JGaulard

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Cameron said:
You will burn that motor up in no time, provided the tractor will even pull it.
Agreed.
 
CaptainDan

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  • #17
Awesome post, I am getting ready to do some similar work to my utility trailer as well, and you solved a couple of problems that I had not been able to design around yet. It looks like I could even pick up mulch and fill dirt when done!

For those looking for a solution for trailer hitch balls, I had something similar to this on my previous lawn tractor:

I believe it would of course interfere with a bagger (or maybe not, never tried it), but it worked great for what I used it for before I got my 4 wheeler which was dragging the pastures with a chain drag and pulling my utility trailer all over the property. Never tried moving the horse trailer with it, but for anything up to a small boat, I think it would be perfect.
 
Phoenix1

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Could I build 4 foot high sides on this side trailer to haul tree limbs and brush? Could you provide detailed information on how to please?
 
JGaulard

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Phoenix1 said:
Could I build 4 foot high sides on this side trailer to haul tree limbs and brush? Could you provide detailed information on how to please?
I'm sure you could. Just cut the walls higher than I did. Also be sure to secure them with a 2"x4" frame. The more plywood you use, the more wobbly those walls will become. You need to make sure they'll be strong.
 
JodyBuchanan

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We are wanting to enclose an open bed similar to what you have done. We would like it higher and have the top about half way down. Have lots of ideas but would like some other ideas.
 
Putting Wooden Sides On A Utility Trailer was posted on 08-17-2021 by JGaulard in the Motor Forum forum.

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