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Hinged-door compartments. On the driver's side of the front compressor area, a door leads to shallow storage designed for delicate tools that would be damaged if allowed to bounce around inside a toolbox. A door on the passenger side leads to a deeper compartment; here I store nail guns, collated nails, air hoses, extension cords, and an extension-ladder standoff.

At the very back of the trailer is a 2-inch-deep, 19-inch-by-26-inch storage area dedicated to storing saw blades.

All doors are 1 1/2 inches thick and have hinges with nonremovable pins, keyed-alike deadbolts, and stainless-steel folding T-handle latches.

Drawer compartments. The trailer also contains seven drawers, which ride on Accuride model 9301 full-extension drawer glides. Rated at 300 pounds, these glides are designed for mobile applications, which means they can withstand vibration and rough usage.

The two forward drawers are the largest. The one on the driver's side holds a 12-inch sliding-compound miter saw mounted to a piece of 3/4-inch AdvanTech; grab handles make it easier to lift the saw in and out. The drawer on the other side stores most of my cased equipment: a recip saw, a couple of circular saws, cordless drill/drivers, a jigsaw, an orbital sander, a power planer, an electric stapler, a plunge router, a biscuit joiner, and a pocket-hole jig. I also throw my toolbelt in there at the end of the day.

Another large drawer sits at the right rear of the trailer; it holds a portable table saw, a large Dremel kit, a short stepladder, and a supply of various caulks.

The trailer also contains three small side drawers, about 6 inches tall, that carry items likely to get lost in a larger space: smaller tools — a belt sander, a palm sander, a right-angle grinder — and their accessories and supplies; fasteners, glues, tapes, wood putties; and such miscellaneous tools as staplers, drill bits and drivers, and pry bars.

The final storage area is a long drawer that pulls out from the back. It's 30 inches wide, 12 inches deep, and more than 72 inches long. I use it to store bins containing electrical and plumbing supplies, more miscellaneous tools, and longer items like a 6-foot level. Since a 5-foot slide was the longest I could get, this is the only drawer that doesn't have a full extension.

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At the back of the trailer, a 6-foot drawer accommodates long tools — like a 6-foot level — and bins of electrical and plumbing supplies. It's the only drawer without a full extension.

One of the few problems I have had with the trailer as originally built was the tendency for the rear doors and drawer to leak — mostly, I think, because the deck drains to the back. I have since weather-stripped these openings, and leaks are no longer a problem.

Locking mechanism. The seven drawers have the same stainless-steel T-handles as the compartment doors. I didn't put locks on the drawer fronts because I didn't want to deal with an excessive number of deadbolts every day. Instead, I secure all but the long rear drawer with an internal locking mechanism that I designed and had fabricated.

Accessed through a lockable door at the back of the trailer, this mechanism consists of a square steel tube with L-bolts welded to it that runs down the center of the trailer below the deck. Since the tube is bolted on through elongated holes, it can slide from front to back. When the tube slides forward, the L-bolts slip through eyebolts on the back of each drawer (two per drawer); the drawers can't be opened unless I retract the L-bolts by pulling back on the tube.

For additional security, there's a way to padlock the tube in the locked position.

I lock the rear drawer by reaching through the access door and operating a vertically mounted slide bolt.

Work Setup

When I'm working outside, the trailer functions as a workstation. Two folding shelf brackets, available through Rockler (800/279-4441, www.rockler.com) and rated at 750-pound capacity per pair, slip onto the side of the trailer and provide support for a miter saw. Since there isn't room to fold them down over the fender below, I made them removable by enlarging the mounting holes into keyhole slots that fit over bolts in the side of the trailer. Similar — but permanently attached — brackets serve as stock supports for long material.

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Removable shelf brackets hold a miter saw.

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Folding shelf brackets serve as stock supports.

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Brackets attached to the rear of the trailer put a table saw at just the right height for the deck to be used as an outfeed table.

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At the rear of the trailer, a pair of folding shelf brackets support the table saw; they're positioned so that the saw's top aligns with the deck of the trailer. This arrangement allows me to rip material that's up to 10 feet long, with the deck functioning as an outfeed table. When the trailer's ladder racks are in place, I can rip material that's slightly more than 16 inches wide; for wider rips, I loosen a couple of bolts and remove the racks.

Ladders and Material

The ladder racks were designed for a truck, so to make them fit the trailer I got a metalworker to alter the upper mounting brackets. Rated for a 250-pound load, the racks can be adjusted for height and width of load. I keep them high so I don't bump my head on them.

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The author had truck ladder racks altered to fit his rig.

Fully equipped, the entire rig weighs a little more than 4,000 pounds; thanks to the 5,200-pound axles, I can still haul another 1,000 pounds or so on the bed. Eight 1,200-pound-rated rope rings (four on each side) let me secure the load with tiedown straps without blocking any drawers.

I have had my trailer now for more than three years. It has withstood the rigors of hard work and rough handling and has helped me be more productive. Its solid construction and unique locking mechanism keep my tools secure enough that I can leave everything overnight at most job sites. And it accommodates all of my equipment so neatly I never lose time searching for stray items.

Excluding my labor, it cost $6,000 to build.

Garfield Karpiak is a supervisor with Holman LLC in Westport, Conn.