Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pictures, FAQs and Tips for Building Your Own Teardrop Trailer

A couple months before our wedding, my mom sent Austin a link to website that showed a homemade teardrop trailer. What she wanted was for him to make her one, but instead he asked if I'd want to build it with him and we could take our honeymoon in it when it was done.

Kind of a no-brainer for me.

So, we spent 3 months, working every Saturday and Sunday building the trailer from the ground up. The days were long too...I'm talking 12 -16 hour days.
We started with a trailer base (8x5') from Northern Tools, wired the car, then started the woodworking.

Neither of us are shy when it comes to power tools, but we're also not the most experienced, so we learned and I hope that we've gotten better with a lot of these things.
I didn't take enough pictures to really detail the entire process here, but we generally followed these instructions, then customized a lot from there. This forum will also answer any questions you can come up with along the way. 

That being said, if you have any questions about a specific step or want to pick my brain about how to build one yourself, please email me. sarah[at]callmefudge[dot]com
Some tips:
  • Buy all of your materials for the week ahead of time so you're ready to start working on Saturday. You can waste hours wandering around Home Depot every weekend if you're not careful.
  • Design first. Especially the galley kitchen. Decide if you want lots of cabinets, a mini fridge or a cooler, a sink, built-in stove, etc.
  • Set a deadline (and give yourself more time than you think). There are a lot of half-finished teardrops out there. We had specific time off work to take our honeymoon so it just had to be done by then. No excuses. If we hadn't, it would have been really hard to resist those days when the weather was perfect for climbing.
  • Roll with it. You're going to have to adjust to make things work. Just take this as part of the process or else you'll get real frustrated, real quick.

How much did it cost to build? 

This is the biggest question I get. People have claimed to make their teardrop for as little as $3000. Ours came in around $7000. Granted, we didn't skimp on materials, but honestly screws and wood just cost a lot. 

Some of the more expensive parts were the manufactured doors and skylight, but both of those were important to us. We wanted it to feel open and be able to get some fresh air (the windows on the doors have screens).
Do you need to have welding skills?

Yes and no. There may or may not be welding involved (depending on your design). We welded jacks onto the back corners of the trailer frame for stability. Also we had to change the fenders when we got bigger wheels so that required a bit of welding.

Do you need to have carpentry/woodworking skills?

Yes, but they don't need to be super advanced. I took one woodworking class in high school and Austin and I both worked on trail crews, so we were fairly comfortable with power tools, but we were not experts by any means. Lots of cutting and recutting, but hopefully we're better now than when we started.
What tools do you need?

These are all of the (power) tools that we used. You could probably get away with less and in some cases, additional tools would have been nice but we made do.
  • Router (essential - just go get one)
  • Table Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Band Saw
  • Skill Saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Orbital Sander
  • Belt Sander
  • Drill 
  • Impact Driver
  • Nail Gun
  • Grinder
  • Welder
How many hours did it take to build?

What's the hardest part?

For us, it was the detail work. We are not carpenters, so getting the drawers and hatch to fit perfectly was a challenge. Also, water proofing. After our first trip out, we had to fix a couple of leaks.

When are you going into production?

Never! We decided to build this for ourselves and we put a lot of time and work into it. Now, we just want to go play! 

...but maybe we'll outfit a Sprinter van next :)
Is there anything that would have been nice to know from the beginning?

Umm, everything. But it was fun learning along the way. And it was great to be able to choose every detail ourselves.

Buy one or build one?

If you have the time and patience, build it! If you know that you're not the type of person to finish a project that takes hundreds of hours, go buy one. The price difference is substantial, but you should do whichever will actually let you go play. That's the ultimate goal, right?

To see the whole album and descriptions, click here.

Friday, May 8, 2015


First trip in the teardrop was a major success!
I feel like this is how I spend most of my time "bouldering."
Pretty good view out the teardrop window at camp.
My favorite person, my favorite pup and my favorite place.
Quick hike above the clouds with the Dingo.
The scary, easy highball.
Someday I'll get strong enough to finish some boulder problems in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

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