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Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
James S #1408996 Fri May 07 2021 03:01 PM
Joined: Mar 2021
Posts: 50
Thanks Mike. Here in Arkansas it is fairly common for it to be used on the outside of houses and camps for siding. It is just left to naturally fade and dry. Just thought if you were to get it dried and plained it down. Then use something to finish it. But that’s a long ways off for me. Thanks again


Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
James S #1409073 Sat May 08 2021 01:27 PM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 163
Cypress was used as you described here in Florida for many years as well. But over the years it seemed not to hold up so well. I just got through putting some on my house. It was built in 1983 and was sided with Cypress that had been flitch cut ( where the boards coming from the tree were slabbed without trimming the edges). It lasted until about 2008 when it needed to be replaced due to rot. I managed to find a saw mill that would slab it up for me. Because it was wet, I needed to dry it. It takes about a year per inch to stand dry the wood. If you use a kiln, it cracks a lot…. I dried it by stacking it up, separating it using scrap wood, and putting it in a small shed with a small AC unit. Because the AC unit is small, its effective in removing the humidity from the shed and drying the wood. Being from Florida, humidity is a problem…..


1940 Chevy 1/2 Ton presently in pieces...
1940 Chevy Business Coupe
Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
2ManyTrucks #1409287 Mon May 10 2021 10:33 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 548
Originally Posted by 2ManyTrucks
I used the cheapest wood money could buy at the co-op, twisted pine
It is soft yes, got a few decent dings from hauling gravel for my shop construction
The plan was to swap it out for better wood in the future


Ditto on the cheapest stuff at the box store. Ripped it and grooved it on table saw and lathered it in black outdoor paint and its wearing in nicely with the dust and grit from driving and moving stuff. My truck sits inside and I do use it to haul things. Just brought home a TH400 and a snowmobile for my kiddo last week. Dragged it right in there without even thinking about the wood. The more it wears in the better it looks in my situation.

Attached Files
CCD85C4B-2BAF-4C98-AB10-DEE880B15B37.jpeg (253.98 KB, 336 downloads)
Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
James S #1409330 Mon May 10 2021 02:58 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,344
I used oak years ago and put a stain and varnish on it ,the varnish and new look is still good on the underside ,on the top not good one board is buckled up all the varnish is long gone .I think the u.v from the sun did a number on it the box had a toneu cover on it and the truck was covered for winters .I was thinking of maybe a black ash with a tong oil finish.

kevinski 1954 GMC 9300 Welcome to the virtual Garage []
Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
James S #1411341 Tue May 25 2021 07:05 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 1,076
Red oak is rather porous - but it now seems to be a common replacement wood; the common wood of choice offered in bed wood kits and commonly used on our trucks. I suspect that it is more of a supply issue - meaning readily available... Cut a short piece of red oak and blow through the end grain and you will see that it is porous enough to feel the air come through the other end ...the same action applies with water; put one end in water and in a few minutes you will see the other end discolor from water wicking through the opposite end- the grain or long pores called tyloses enable moisture and water transfer into the wood and do not resist water movement. I’m not saying that red oak is a poor choice, but rather, if there are other choices then consider other wood species and compare.

If white oak is available - consider it over red oak; it is the same wood used in cask and ship construction too. the closed grain white oak has very short tyloses that inhibit water and moisture transfer.

If you have the choice, quarter sawn wood - will minimize expansion and cupping across the width. Quarter sawn boards do tend to be available in narrow widths - but wider widths can be found..if a larger diameter tree is quarter sawn and milled. If wood is flat or plain sawn it will tend to "cup" especially if one face is subjected to more moisture or temperature extremes than the other side or face.

Quarter sawn red or white oak has the added benefit of showing a rather spectacular wood grain effect (rays).

Tight grained soft wood is a good choice such as Douglas fir or old growth southern yellow pine. Red pine? - knot (pun) the best choice - it tends to decay. Finding old growth species such as these is a challenge and best searched from websites that salvage old buildings or web search for logs and a mill that reclaim logs from the bottom of lakes and rivers and lost during transport down those waterways back in the day.

Plantation grown softwoods have wide growth rings because they grow fast in open sunlit lands - rapid annual growth produces wood that is less dimensionally stable; great for production and satisfying shareholders - but not great for use in finish applications. For 2x material...its good enough. For furniture and better truck beds, if you are discerning - not so good. Cedars are strong, light, and some species more dense and less prone to gouging and scratching than others, and some species are more decay resistant than others. Trees harvested in far northern areas may grow slower and have the desirable tighter grain. Flat sawn, relatively wet and fresh plantation grown wood will be less stable, and will tend to twist, cup and warp. Yet, bolted down to the frame and bed cross members…these things can be minimized. Again, if you can, - ask for quarter sawn fir higher grade will help minimize any of these issues. Hardwood and softwood species each have their pros and cons and each species has regional wood property variations that occur within each sub species.

So... all of this is good information - but in the end - does it really matter? I mean, if its a work truck and subject to use and abuse - ya may not need to pay close attention to these details; or if protected by a steel sheet, tonneau cover or cap - it will be fine. But for a person putting valuable time and money into a truck they are proud to own and show - then this information may be valuable. And, there is a case to be made for the amount of time and cost put into a bed wood floor: ...why go through all of the trouble of building a wood floor bed to have it sit outside and use wood that is susceptible to absorbing water only to have to replace it again it right (where you can) the first time and spend less time later fixing it. As we have seen - with periodic maintenance, protection from the elements, and finishes, wood bed floors can last decades...careful wood selection can only help.

If you want to learn more about wood properties and choose woods for decay resistance - search the web for the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. I suspect they can provide a list of wood species and their properties, decay resistance, density, and overall use or recommendations. They may have a Wood Technology section on their site - or give them a call. Or, if you have specific questions - PM me - I can get the same information for you too.

Last edited by tom moore; Thu Mar 17 2022 11:54 PM.
Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
James S #1411354 Tue May 25 2021 08:21 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 5,313
Housekeeping (Moderator) Making a Stovebolt Bed & Paint and Body Shop Forums
Another good choice for bed wood would be Alaska Yellow Cedar. It's very rot resistant and weathers well, but you need to use corrosion resistant fasteners, and be sure that the bed steel is sealed with a good epoxy primer. It's generally only available in the Pacific Northwest, so might be tough to come by in Ontario.
No it's not original, but since the bed wood was finished black originally, who's going to know the difference if you use a black finish?

Newest Project - 51 Chevy 3100 work truck. Photos []
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Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
James S #1411578 Thu May 27 2021 03:10 PM
Joined: Jan 2020
Posts: 473
I'm so happy to see this topic, for the following reasons:

1. I am trying to determine what wood (guessing I will want a light color), and
2. trying to figure out how I will do this in a Panel Truck, as it looks like the current, original, wood is all one giant slab of plywood :|

1957 Chevy Panel Truck, powered by SBC 350 from 1977 Camaro
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Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
Phak1 #1411582 Thu May 27 2021 03:20 PM
Joined: Nov 1995
Posts: 5,395
Unrepentant VW Lover
Originally Posted by Phak1
The bed wood in the Chevrolet & GMC trucks was originally southern yellow pine. Not the type found in big box stores but in your better lumber stores that stock the more exotic woods.

They were factory treated with a combination of linseed oil and lampblack, giving it a dull black color.

And this is what it looks like after 70-plus years:

Attached Files
bed wood 3800.JPG (211.84 KB, 239 downloads)

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'49 Chevrolet 3804

Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
James S #1411695 Fri May 28 2021 04:14 AM
Joined: Aug 2018
Posts: 641
Did the panel trucks get one big slab of wood but with routed grooves for the metal bits so it looks like individual planks but the solid board kept dust down for the enclosed cabin
Might have been a modification on later years of the panel
Thought I read that someplace
So one piece in a panel might be original

Re: What wood should I used for my 9' pickup truck bed?
James S #1411710 Fri May 28 2021 12:18 PM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 815
I went to a local lumber yard (not big box) and bought the Yellow pine and did the MAR-K painting/preserving method as suggested by Tim. That was about 5 years ago. It has held up well. My truck is parked outside year round. I am in Kentucky and we have the full range of seasonal weather.

Dave from Northern Kentucky
My 54 3100
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