Overlander Woodworks: Custom DIY Single Drawer System Build For the 5th Gen 4Runner
With so many accessories for the 5th Gen 4Runner, you might have found you need a way to organize your space a little better.
Whiles boxes are a great way to do such things, one thing they don’t do is keep them secured to their vehicle; that’s where drawer systems come in handy and Overlander Woodworks is one company you should think about.
There are plenty of high-end drawer systems like Truck Vault on the market, however, with that, you only have a couple of options, and can it get pretty expensive, not to mention heavy with all the material. You can also go with a middle-of-the-road, more affordable drawer system like the Boss Strong Box system but it’s only offered in a full-width steel frame which takes up a lot of space and is also pretty heavy.
One of the main things that separate Overlander Woodworks from the rest is pricing. While most units on the market exceed that $1,000 range, you can grab one of these for roughly half the cost depending on your options.
Who is Overlander Woodworks?
Overlander Woodworks is a small business out of Irvine, California, and is ran by Irwin. He has been working with wood for quite some time and decided to start his own business. While most focus on drawer setups for overlanders, he can create just about anything imaginable.
Why Overlander Woodworks?
As stated above, Overlander Woodworks is a small business here in California, and I felt there was no better option than going local. Overlander Woodworks also met all the demands I wanted in a drawer system, which was hard to find on the market.
One of the things that stood out to me with Irwin at Overlander Woodworks was the wood options he had available. Depending on what you are looking for, or what might fit your price range, Irwin is able to make it work.
Unlike other options on the market that are a take-it-or-leave-it kind of deal, Irwin makes sure to meet the needs of his customers.
He typically works with birch plywood as most companies do, but if you are looking for standard plywood or something else, he should be able to meet your requirements.
I decided I wanted a single drawer system for my 5th Gen 4Runner. While most like to run a full drawer setup, I didn’t want one, simply because I try not to bring that much stuff with me on trips that aren’t necessary. With an extra drawer, I felt that would only enable me to bring things that I didn’t need, adding even more weight.
With the single drawer setup, I added about 30 lbs of new weight, not including added weight from various tools and whatnot that I would add.
Additionally, I run a fridge in the 4Runner and wanted to offset the weight of the fridge. While a full drawer would have worked, the main issue I had was my SnoMaster being so large that, if it sat on top of a drawer, it would more than likely not open up completely, and even if it could, the drawer would be so small that it wouldn’t be useful for anything larger than three inches.
Single vs Full Drawer?
You might be asking yourself if you should go with a full drawer system or just a single drawer. That is most definitely going to depend on what you do and how long you are on the road. You might want one side for your tools and one side for your camping gear, or perhaps you want it all to be recovery or all camping.
My job was pretty easy as the majority of my items all fit in a single box, so I knew nearly double the size of the boxes would work in a single drawer. However, if you are using 3-4 boxes for items, a full drawer would be a better option for what you’re bringing.
Keep in mind that a full drawer will definitely add more weight compared to a single drawer; so if weight is a concern that is something to keep in mind.
Because of my setup, I had a unique measurement needed for my single drawer. I wanted it the same length as my fridge slider, that way I could still have room behind it to put my recovery rope. While you can most certainly fit rope in the drawer, I decided not to as it would take up a majority of space. I also had the wiring issue from when I still had my sliding cargo deck. This left a few wires exposed and I didn’t want to pinch them. While this did shorten the length of the drawer to 32” total, it was only a matter of four inches compared to what I could have had.
I also didn’t want my drawers to be super tall, but I didn’t want them to be too short either. I ended up going with a 9” tall drawer so I could fit the 1-lb propane tanks inside, if necessary, for trips. Anything else I had would sit shorter so I knew that wouldn’t be an issue.
While my situation may be different than most, Overlander Woodworks can most definitely meet the challenge of whatever you have. They have done everything from sleeping platforms to three-level drawer systems, so they can most likely work with what you have going on in your current 4Runner build.
One thing I absolutely wanted with my setup was a latch that was able to lock. While I don’t take my vehicle into the shop very often (unless I need something done that I cannot do), I always find myself taking everything out of the vehicle to ensure nothing will be stolen.
While most shops are honest these days, you still come across those stories online where something went missing or was caught redhanded at the dealership. With a locking latch, that was no longer a concern of mine.
Whenever the time comes that work is needed to be done on the 4Runner, I can feel safe knowing my recovery gear is not only bolted down to the 4Runner but also is locked in place as well.
This can also come in handy if you are on a road trip, whether camping or out of town. If you are staying at a hotel, you’ll still want some of your recovery gear with you in case you break down. Of course, this could also work with other items that you might not want to be seen while traveling and need to be locked in a storage container.
Because I still planned on using my Frontrunner Wolfpack box for camping gear, I wanted to be able to tie it down in the back. Obviously sitting on top of a drawer isn’t the best place for a box as, once you hit the trails or even turn on the pavement, it’s likely going to slide.
Tie-down points eliminate that issue and allow for you to tie down your box to the drawer to ensure it stays in place while traveling.
This will also work for anything else that you put on top of the drawer systems, such as chairs, storage boxes, tents—you name it.
The tie-down points will also lay down flat with the drawer if you are not using them, meaning they won’t be in the way of any items you lay down on top of them such as a stationary tie-down point on a roof rack that is always standing up straight.
With so many organization tools on the market for drawer systems, I thought why not just put in some dividers? Wouldn’t this make things a lot less complicated and a little easier? They wouldn’t shift nearly as bad, and you’ll still be able to keep everything organized.
Overlander Woodworks had this in mind and came up with a simple cut in the drawers to allow for a divider to slide in and out of. Depending on what items you needed in the box at the time, you could take one divider out or both dividers out, or you could of course keep all three in.
Because of my ARB tire plugging kit and a few larger tools being a bit too long, I chose to remove one of the dividers. However, with them in, you have a perfect setup for camping gear being organized even more thoroughly.
With mine, I have all of my recovery gear in the rear section, while the front section has more of my tools needed for repairs and setting up camp. Ammo cans make a great option for fitting most of your small tools as they can fit a lot while not taking up too much space.
I always wanted a drawer set up for the 5th Gen 4Runner, it was just a matter of what company to go with and one that could customize options to how I wanted. I was extremely impressed with Irwin at Overlander Woodworks. Not only did he help me and set me upright, but he was also able to fit me in quickly for a trip to Death Valley National Park.
Having a drawer system not only made packing for the trip simpler and more convenient but also put all of my tools and extra parts in an organized manner, something I really hadn’t had before. Typically by the end of the first day, my stuff would be all mixed and loose, where now it’s right where I sat it before closing the drawer.
The security of being able to lock the drawer gives you so much peace of mind in the event you wanted to hike, stay at a hotel, or even take your 4Runner in for service.
Quality is hard to find, but customer service is even harder, and with Overlander Woodworks I felt like family, and that’s definitely something you don’t get very often anymore.
If you are looking for a drawer system, sleeping platform, or some kind of other wood option for your 5th Gen 4Runner, give Irwin a look at Overland Woodworks, I guarantee that he can help set you on the right path and for a price you can afford.