Having the right tool for the job is an essential element of any DIY project. Not only will the job get done quicker, but you feel better about it in the end.
When it comes to transporting some of the treasures you can find at ReStore, such as cabinets, doors, windows, furniture, or other bulky items, a truck may seem like a necessity to haul your goods home.
ReStore Guest Author and DIY enthusiast Andrew Olsen found himself in this situation many times while taking on DIY projects, often folding down the seats in his midsize sedan to haul 8′ long 4×4 posts and other precarious items. Realizing this was not the best option, Andrew sought out an alternative. Below are his findings and some useful tips for any serious home improvement enthusiast, crafter, carpenter, or contractor.
If you are serious about DIY, work in home improvement contracting or construction, a truck or trailer may feel out of reach. Budget and storage space are also common concerns. In this article, I will show provide tips for buying and building a trailer from a kit for $500 or less.
Harbor Freight makes a great trailer that can be used for hauling the materials for a variety of DIY projects. I had been looking into these trailers for years and finally got one in 2019. It is a light-weight trailer and super easy to pull. I have used it for several different projects and have always been pleased with the results. While it is a little smaller than some trailers that I have used in the past, I’ve really liked it for its compact storage, ease of use and affordability. Here are the pros and cons I have discovered with this trailer.
- It is a versatile 4’ x 8’ flatbed that can have sides added to it
- Trailer folds up for compact storage (2 ft. x 5 ft. 3 in. of floor space), unlike other trailers that hog storage in your home or garage
- Casters on bottom (when folded), so it rolls nicely when moving for storage
- Trailer bed tilts all the way to the ground and can be used it as a dump trailer to transport and dump yard waste or dirt
- Lightweight and can be moved easily by hand and towed effortlessly by a vehicle
- Low cost! The trailer retails for $450, but you can often get coupons that list the trailer for $350
- LED lights are super bright (even in daylight) and the wiring was simple to complete
- Weight capacity is 1,720 pounds
You can also haul the trailer kit in a small SUV or truck. The boxes are heavy, but do not take up too much room. I found it helpful to spread a tarp on the ground so I could easily see all the pieces, plus it helped prevent scratching the paint on the cement. It is important to organize the parts and hardware before you start the process of assembling the trailer
Assembly can be challenging at times and the instructions can be tedious to read. I built this trailer alone and I would not recommend doing that. I imagine with two or three people working on this project together it would make things go more smoothly.
Slight preparation is required prior to use. When the trailer is stored in the folded position you have to add six bolts to the frame prior to towing it.
Since the frame is bolted together it is not a flat surface on the top. When you add the plywood on top, depending on preference, you may want to make some adjustments to the wood, so it lays flush with the frame.
Here are a few pictures of how I have used this trailer to haul loads for various DIY projects.
In the summer of 2020 I built some sides out of scrap wood that I can quickly throw onto the trailer if needed and they have come in handy quite a bit (above). These pictures show how the trailer bed tilts to the ground, so you can use it as a dump trailer. In this picture I was hauling some dirt and rocks to a friend’s house. All you have to do is pull out two pins on the tongue of the trailer (while it is still secured to the hitch of the vehicle) and slowly shift the weight of the load to the back, so it doesn’t slam down. I was pleased with the results and plan to use this trick in the future.
(Above) Hauling a large wooden crate across town and hauling a load of lumber for a home improvement project
There are a ton of YouTube clips on how to build, fold, and modify these trailers. Here are a few clips that can assist you with this project and help you get an idea about these trailers.
I am also a fan of this Harbor Freight trailer. I love that I can wheel it into the corner of the garage when it is not in use and it doesn’t take up much space. Just in case you want to see a breakdown of cost, here is how you can squeeze it into your budget. I purchased some of these items on sale or with coupons.
- $350 Trailer (sale price)
- $40 Spare Tire
- $25 Trailer Jack
- $35 Plywood ¾ inch
- $40 Hardware for securing plywood to trailer
- If you choose to add sides it will increase cost slightly
- Grand Total: $490
I have not had any issues with this trailer and still recommend it for any serious DIYer or builder who wants to get a utility trailer without breaking the bank or losing half of their driveway for storing it.
About the Author
Andrew Olsen is a volunteer writer for Habitat for Humanity. He writes about home repair/maintenance, repairing and refinishing furniture, and other DIY projects. His other hobbies include fishing, taking family road trips, and singing in quartets and small groups. To learn more about Andrew, visit his LinkedIn.