How to Build a Cargo Trailer

by Nathaniel Miller - Updated September 26, 2017
A homemade cargo trailer can be just as useful as a commercially purchased one.

Cargo trailers are used for a variety of tasks, not the least of which is hauling "cargo." They can be used as motorcycle trailers, yardwork trailers, or moving trailers and are versatile in design and construction. You can build an inexpensive cargo trailer. With a used pop-up camping trailer, some common tools, and a little ingenuity you too can customize a trailer to specifically fit your cargo needs. Read the steps below to learn how to build a cargo trailer.

Begin by dismantling the outside of the pop-up camper. The camper's trailer frame is going to be used as the main frame for your cargo trailer, so you first have to get to it. Use the sledgehammer, sawsall, and crowbars to tear the metal siding off the camper. Cut the plastic roof off the camper shell. Dispose of these materials and then move onto the interior.

Use the sawsall to cut the cabinetry, beds and counter tops loose from inside the trailer. With your helpers' assistance, remove and discard these materials. Next, use the crowbars to loosen and pull up the trailer flooring. Discard. Pull and remove all the wiring and piping from underneath the trailer. Discard.

Cut the treated lumber to the proper length and build your trailer deck by laying the boards on top of the frame and bolting them down with the lag bolts. You can either leave space between boards to provide a place for mud and water to escape or you can butt the boards together and make a solid floor. Connect the lighting kit to the rear of the trailer, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Run the wires along the frame of the trailer up to the hitch so that you can connect the lights to your vehicle's plug when pulling the trailer. Now all that is left is to get a license, registration, and insurance policy for your new trailer!


  • The metal that you remove from the trailer can be recycled by scrap yards, which should net you a few dollars depending on the weight of the removed metal. Your trailer could end up paying for itself!

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