DIY Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution – 5th Gen 4Runner

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating For 5th Gen 4Runner Models

I bought my 5th Gen 4Runner in 2015.

I was upgrading from a 2011 Subaru Forester and spent many hours on Toyota.com building my dream set-up. The rear sliding deck was always an afterthought. I opted to forgo it to save some money (unaware it could not be added afterward as a plug and play kit) and unfortunately, that decision has haunted me ever since.

There are guys in the forums who were able to convert the SR5 cargo area into a Trail Edition Premium or TRD Off-Road/Pro but that requires drilling through your floorboard in order to access the factory bolt threads on the 4Runner. Not that this is necessarily a difficult mod, the general process is not for me. If you are interested in converting the SR5 cargo area into a TEP or TRD cargo area with the slide tray, take a look at this post in the forum.

The Problem With 5th Gen 4Runner’s Rear Cargo Area

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

When the back seats are down, there is a 5” downward slope from the flat seatbacks to the cargo area. This can be incredibly frustrating when you’re packing the truck or if you need a flat surface for sleeping.

I was determined to come up with a solution and started to research pre-made drawer systems along with drawer plans and options currently available on the market. I found that they were all much taller than I wanted and way more than I was willing to invest.

My 4Runner is my daily driver/mobile office and did not want to sacrifice too much of the current height of the cargo area. I also had promised my fiancé that I wouldn’t start any pricey mods until the 4Runner was officially paid off.

In a perfect world of low profile drawer systems, take a look at the systems made by Truck Vault. They are known to make one of the highest quality low-profile drawer systems for the 5th Generation 4Runner on the market. They can be customized and fully optioned with power, slide tables, multiple drawer configurations, gun organizers, high-end security locks, and so much more. Take a look at Truck Vault for a wide variety of drawer systems and custom rear cargo applications for the 5th Gen 4Runner. If you can afford it then I would highly recommend looking at the truck Vault drawer system.

For my personal build, I decided to DIY my own platform/drawer set up. Below you’ll find my supply list and step-by-step instructions to create your own

Let’s get started! 

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution Install Overview

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

The photo above shows the starting dimensions for the area:

38 ½” deep (to hinge of rear seats) x 43 5/8” wide (wheel-well to wheel-well) x 3” high (bottom to level with rear seats)

Tools & Materials:

Step 1. Platform Assembly

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

I started with a 1/2” sheet of plywood. I’m still in the process of setting up a proper woodshop at the house and had to rely on the local Lowe’s for the longer cuts that my miter saw couldn’t handle.

Once I had the entire platform cut to size (38 ½” L x 43 5/8” W), I measured for the factory mounting points directly behind the rear seats. I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t limiting any of the functionality of the cargo area.

Using 2” hole saw bit, I made two holes in the rear of the platform, 7 ½” in from the sides in order to retain the functionality of the factory tie-down points that are provided in the cargo area.

Cut Platform Legs

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Next, using 2 pieces of 1”x 4”x 8’ lumber, I cut the platform legs.

I cut 3 legs measuring 33” long and mounted them to the bottom of the platform using the 1 ¼” wood screws. The outside legs sit 1 ½” inside of the outer edge. The center leg sits 21 ¾” to the center from the outsides edge.

Add Carpet & Mount D-Rings (Optional)

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Now you have the main structure for the project.

The 1×4” supports are vital to give enough room to incorporate a drawer and allow for clearance of the gear being stored.

The last thing to do is to add the carpet to the top. I wanted something that resembled the factory carpet and at Lowe’s, I found that the marine/boat carpet was the best.

Lastly, to add even more functionality, I added surface mounted D-rings at all four corners.

Step 2. Drawer Build

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Throughout the years I’ve put together my fair share of IKEA furniture. I used that experience to build the drawers. Using the 1×3” lumber, I cut the frame for the drawers and used the 1×4” lumber for the face of the drawers. Then attached the 20” drawer slider.

Choose Your Handles For Sliding Drawers

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

For the handles, I was originally thinking of using metal handles but decided to use the rope for a more nautical look and feel. I drilled two holes into the face using a 5/8” drill bit, cut the rope to length, burned the ends to prevent fraying, and knotted them at the end.

Add Some Lining To Your Drawers

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

Lastly, for the lining of the drawers, I wanted something that would keep items in the drawers from sliding around but allow for easy cleaning of sand or dirt. I landed on the Duck Solid Grip Easy Liner from Lowes.

Final Thoughts

Low-Profile Drawer Storage Solution DIY Install Guide For Non-3rd Row Seating 5th Gen 4Runner Models

I’m really stoked on how this project turned out. I was able to flatten out the rear of the truck, create storage, maintain a clean look, and maximize the usability of the cargo space. The items in the drawers might evolve over time but for now, this will be a perfect place to store my off-road recovery gear, while still allowing me to keep my essentials for work on top of the platform.

Eventually, my hope is to convert the rig from a daily driver/mobile office to a full adventure set up. Stay tuned!

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Bii
Bii
12 days ago

We’re you able to find exact 1x4s and 1×3 or did you have to cut down a larger size

Mitch
Mitch
1 year ago

Thanks. This is a great starting point for a project. Working on a sleeping platform, drawer unit after I get the carpet.

huntrunner
huntrunner
1 year ago

Looking at making a variation of this over the weekend to accommodate my dog kennels above. Im going to have to modify pretty heavily – but this post was amazing for me to try and figure that out:

IMG-0403.jpg
Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  huntrunner

Looks awesome and I’m glad it helped! I’d love to see how it turns out!

huntrunner
huntrunner
1 year ago

updated picture wont post/

Last edited 1 year ago by huntrunner
Harold Broughton
Harold Broughton
10 months ago
Reply to  huntrunner

You have done exactly what I’m looking to do, with a single dog box on top of one shelf. Can you send me pics of your finished product?

Bird Dog Overland
Bird Dog Overland
1 year ago

Finished mine tonight. Went with 1x5x8 and 1x4x8 instead of the 1x4x8 and 1x3x8 in the directions though.
//:0

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago

Nice!! how’d it turn out?

Bird Dog Overland
Bird Dog Overland
1 year ago

It won’t let me post the pictures on here, but I’ve posted them to IG if you want to check it out.

Scott Broussard
Scott Broussard
1 year ago

Finished photo

01412DFD-F0CA-413A-BABC-4E8A60D1371C.jpeg
Scott Broussard
Scott Broussard
1 year ago

I plan on tackling this build tomorrow. Is it designed to fit flush with seatbacks in up position? If so, is there a gap when seats are lowered? I really like the simplicity and functionality of the design. I hunt a lot with dogs and this is perfect to have kennels on top and all dog electronics, leashes, collars, etc in drawers below. I’m considering something like a flex-seal spray coating to drawer fronts or any exposed wood to protect it. Anyone here have experience using that on wood?

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago

Hey Scott, yeah it sits flush against the back seats when they are up and there is roughly a 1″ gap when they are down. I made sure that the platform covered the entire rear area (basically to the gap where the rear seats hinge) but measure from the end of the downslope to the plastic at the rear door for the legs. Since I used the 1×4 instead of the 1×3 for the supports, it does sit a bit taller than the rear seats. That was the best option for getting a set of drawers in.

I don’t have any experience with the flex-seal product but I’d love to hear how it does.

Good luck!

Scott Broussard
Scott Broussard
1 year ago

I JUST finished building this system! Flex seal spray paint works GREAT and looks matte finished – just gotta apply it very lightly so it doesn’t clump up. Still considering methods to hold drawers closed – but I used the full length, soft close slides and they seem to hold it well. If need be, I think I’ll just use small magnets mounted inside so it looks clean.

Oh, and I used same indoor/outdoor carpet that I covered top with inside drawers and it looks clean! Had a few issues with slide installation (user error!), but otherwise I LOVE IT! Thanks for the design and all the info!

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago

That’s awesome!! It looks great! I’m so glad the article helped!

Brent Marrah
Brent Marrah
1 year ago

This is a great simple build. If you don’t mind, what’s the max height of items you can put in the drawers? For clearance I would think right at 3″ if you only have 3.5″ from the 1×4’s

Any issue clearing the plastic trim at the end of the floor? I know on my 4th gen it’s raised a little bit there.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brent Marrah
Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  Brent Marrah

Hey Brent, Thanks for the feedback! For clearance on the drawers, anything 3″ and under fits perfectly. It looks like there is a total height of 3 1/16″ from the bottom of the drawer to the platform bottom. For the plastic trim on the end, I don’t have any issues because mine seems to drop off toward the rear. There is a slight slope down with the carpet before the plastic trim starts. Hope this helps!

Brent Marrah
Brent Marrah
1 year ago

It does, thanks for the reply!

Bird Dog Overland
Bird Dog Overland
1 year ago

Perfect setup. I’m thinking about doing something like this as well. I just have to find the space to do it. I hope Home Depot would be willing to do all the cutting for me, lol.

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago

Hahaha thanks!! I had the local home depot cut the platform and the bottoms of the drawers. The other pieces can be done with a table saw or a circular saw.

Bird Dog Overland
Bird Dog Overland
1 year ago

I noticed there is no mention of when and what you did with the wood sealant and bed liner. When and where did you use them? I’m a novice at wood work.

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago

I’m not sure what you’re referring to. This platform sits on top of the existing carpet in the truck. I didn’t use any sealant on the wood.

Bird Dog Overland
Bird Dog Overland
1 year ago

Oh ok, it is listed in the article under the ‘tools and materials’ section and has a link to it on Amazon. I’m not sure if it is needed since the platform would stay in the vehicle for me.

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago

Oh sorry about that. You can definitely seal the wood for extra protection and a basic polyurethane would do but if it’s staying in the vehicle at all times, you don’t necessarily need it.

Alex
Alex
1 year ago

Quick question on the draw bottoms. What wood did you use? Thanks.

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex

Hey Alex, I used the thinnest plywood I could find at Lowe’s, 1/4″ cut to the outside measurement of the drawer frame. it’s lightweight and inexpensive.

Rayne
Rayne
1 year ago

SO this provides you with obvious storage, but a level sleeping platform as well? Looking to do this with mine. I want storage and a level sleeping platform so i can throw an air mattress in back for an upcoming camping trip.

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  Rayne

Hey Rayne, with the the rear seats down, the top of the platforrm sits about an 1″ above the level of the rear seats but would be a lot better than the drop from before. if you want a true flat surface you can always use the 1″ X 3″ for the supports instead of the 1″ X 4″. If you do that you’d have to forgo the drawers but you will have 2″ under the platform to store anything you need.

Tim W
Tim W
1 year ago

How much space between drawers and the hatch when the hatch is closed?

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim W

It goes right to the edge of the carpet so Id say about 3″ between the front of the drawers and the hatch.

Jason
Jason
1 year ago

Very nice, I have been looking at doing this in my 4Runner Trail ever since I got it. This is a great jumping off point for a basic setup. Very cost effective way to boost organized storage without loosing everyday flexible cargo space.

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason

Thanks! That’s exactly what I was going for

BlakeA
BlakeA
1 year ago

Hope you’re strapping that thing down somehow. You don’t want it in the back of your head in the event of a collision or rollover. Otherwise, nice economical build!

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  BlakeA

Thanks!! I’ve strapped it down in the back to the factory mounting points but I’m going to add some mounting points to the sides to make sure it’s secure.

Stan G
Stan G
1 year ago

Can you let us know how you strapped it down? Would be great to update the article. Thanks!!

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  Stan G

Hey Stan, I’m currently using a bungee in the back to strap it down using the factory mounts through the holes in the rear. I’m planning to install turnbuckles on the front and back to secure it down. Thanks!

Charles
Charles
1 year ago

Nice build! I have long contemplated going for the low profile storage / sleeper conversion, but decided that I wanted to keep it simple and level for now. For your drawer bottoms did you just brad nail them from the bottom or do you have a table saw that you can cut dados?

Scott - @Salty_4runner
Scott - @Salty_4runner
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles

Thanks Charles! yeah for the bottom I just used some nails from the bottom. 5 or 6 on the sides and 4 or so in the front and back.

Ryan Gibbons
Nomad
1 year ago

Nice work!

Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith
1 year ago

You certainly want locking slide latches on the drawers. Otherwise the drawers will bang against the hatch. Know this from unfortunate experience

Bird Dog Overland
Bird Dog Overland
1 year ago

Great point!

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