View Full Version : Plywood and Mini-Vans

Bob Hobbs
10-05-2005, 08:42 AM
I recently traded my pick-up truck for a mini-van. I had thought I would strap full sheets of plywood to the roof rack of the mini-van to get them home, but now (after seeing the damage that wind can do when it gets under a roof) I'm having visions of the plywood setting sail with part of my mini-van roof. And, then crashing into some unsuspecting motorist behind me.

Do any of you haul plywood around on the roof of a min-van? What precautions do you take? Am I being an idiot to worry about it? There's a weight restriction--maximum load 100 lbs evenly distributed--what does a sheet of 3/4 plywood weigh?


10-05-2005, 09:20 AM
I have a grand cherokee and usually stack the plywood on the roof. I try to limit it to a few sheets (I think I have done up to 5). I have not had a problem, but I do tie them down well, from all angles.

My preference is to have them cut at the lumber yard, then just slip them inside the truck. But sometimes this is not possible.

Chris Moore
10-05-2005, 10:11 AM
If you are concerned about air getting under the front edge and lifting the sheets, there are several things to do. First, slow down. Speed is what usually causes enough lift to break the sheets loose. Second, use better straps to secure the sheets to the rack. And third, build up the rear rack by about an inch or so. Simply duct taping a 1x1 shim to the rack will give enough forward rake to create more downforce on the sheets as you drive. Just don't rip along in reverse. :)

Chris Moore
West Palm Beach, FL

10-05-2005, 10:16 AM
i have hauled sheet goods INSIDE my minivan, either fold the seats down or take them out, use your tape measure first to make sure it will actually work, i know it worked in my 96 grand voyager.
OR have the sheets cut in half.

10-05-2005, 11:49 AM
>i have hauled sheet goods INSIDE my minivan, either fold the
>seats down or take them out, use your tape measure first to
>make sure it will actually work, i know it worked in my 96
>grand voyager.
>OR have the sheets cut in half.

This is my suggestion as well. I think most (if not all) modern minivans are intentionally large enough to haul 4x8 sheet goods inside. Of course, this method is slightly less doable if you have passengers. :D

10-05-2005, 12:44 PM
>modern minivans are intentionally large enough to haul 4x8
>sheet goods inside. Of course, this method is slightly less
>doable if you have passengers. :D

Pasengers can walk , HAR!!! I haul 4x8 sheets in my old astro van, back doors won't close buth tats what tarp straps are for. for what its worth the back seats are out 90% of the time

Cody Colston
10-05-2005, 12:49 PM
If I didn't have a truck I'd have a small trailer for hauling lumber and sheet goods. I see them for sale all the time at bargain prices.


For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul?

10-05-2005, 12:58 PM
That's what I do, also. I toyed with the idea of buying a truck/van for my newfound hobby to haul sheet goods home, also. It made more sense for me to put a hitch on my small, fuel-efficient car and buy a cheap horrible fright trailer instead.

This way, bad gas milage is always optional. I like driving small cars more. And, i won't have to be "The friend with a truck"!

Jason Beam,
Sacramento, CA

10-05-2005, 03:47 PM
I always kept lengths of rope for hauling lumber on the roof and made sure that the sheets were tied tight together as well as down. Slow driving as has been mentioned also worked well.

I gave up on buying mini vans for hauling lumber. I now have an old station wagon and make very good use of battery powered saws to get things to fit inside.

Past that, renting the Load and Go from HD for $19 maybe 4 or 5 times a year is so way cheaper then insurance and inspections, batteries, brakes and all the rest on a monster I don't really want.


10-05-2005, 07:12 PM
As stated, many of the new vans are sized to hold a 4x8 sheet inside. Even if it can't quite handle the length it's easier to tie the hatch down than tie the sheet to the roof.

One other comment, take care on the number of sheets inside. My wife's new Sienna holds a sheet nicely flat on the floor with the seats removed. Things get more interesting as you start piling them up. The "feet" for the front seats are set in somewhat from the edges of the actual seat. Once you get the pile high enough to have it backing to the cushion you need to move the seat up. Higher up you are straightening the back as well.

As I learned when I tried 12 sheets things get pretty crowded. I'm only about 5'9" and I had my knees touching the dash on each side of the wheel with my elbows back about even with my back. I'm 100% confident that very bad things would have happened to me if the airbag had a reason to go off at that point. :o

Bob Hobbs
10-05-2005, 08:22 PM
This is a Nissan Quest mini-van which is one of the smaller mini-vans and also, on this older model the rearmost seat cannot be removed, nor will it fold into the floor. Cut pieces go in fine--I just hate having to pay them to cut it.

The weight of 3/4" plywood is 2.1-2.2 pounds per square foot (67-70 pounds per 4x8 panel) and MDF is about 100 pounds per 4x8 sheet, so with a 100 pound limit on the roof rack, it looks like a max of 2 sheets (ugh!).

I did like Chris Moore's idea about getting a little down angle and that started me thinking about lift and gas mileage and... forget it--too math-intensive.

The trailer idea was a good one. And if I could back a trailer...but then, I have trouble backing a car...

I am thinking I can recline the rear seat, load the panels, and tie the back hatch down on top and stick some little red flags out there...

Anyway, THANKS for all the IDEAS--I knew this was the place to ask!!!


10-06-2005, 09:47 AM
I'm thinking about charging admission whenever I want to back my trailer into position. It takes me long enough to make it worth a few bucks. Plus, it's sure to make you laugh, cry, and cling to the edge of your seat!

10-07-2005, 07:53 PM
Reading this post makes me so glad I bought a $500 beater truck this spring. It is a 1990 F150 2WD that was owned by a local construction company. Lots of miles, wear and tear, but they maintained it regurlary (sp?) and it was cheap to plate and insure. It also holds a full 4X8 sheet of ply with no problems. My wifes Windstar will not hold a full sheet of ply, I did try once and ended up getting it chopped to fit.


10-07-2005, 08:30 PM
You got that right, an 8' bed pick-up is just too valuable to do without. We went through fifteen years of goofing around with a mini truck and mini-van. I had nearly forgotten how much stuff you can painlessly load in the bed of a full size pick-up truck.

cigar box
10-09-2005, 06:39 AM
I actually built a contraption out of 2x4's to carry sheet goods inside my town& country. it holds the sheet goods over the tire wells. if you'd like, and if i could figure out how to upload photos, i'll add a picture.

Bob Hobbs
10-09-2005, 08:51 AM
I'd like that!

Some tips on uploading photos: File size less than 100K; Format must be .JPG; and be sure and check JPG--the default is HTML; and finally, allow some time depending on the speed of your internet access.

10-09-2005, 08:59 AM
The other part of this is the tranny in mini vans.

Even though the larger ones give you plenty of room to haul full sheets, when you load them up, you over tax the transmission. I killed two of them hauling lumber for decks. Granted I packed them pretty full with a lot of weight, I did take it real slow. It didnít save me.

I think itís why the ďGrandĒ line from Chrysler was said to have tranny problems. Itís like they give you that extra space and if you fill it with construction material, you go way over the rated load capacity and itís the tranny that gives out.


10-09-2005, 06:06 PM
Actually we replaced two Grand Voyager transmissions in 120,000 miles with no heavy hauling. Got me a F-150, with a clutch pedal, now.

10-10-2005, 04:09 AM
.....................buy locally from a lumber yard that delivers.
If its local, it SHOULD be free. If you still want to haul your material yourself, ANY car rack will work. To get MORE stability, add 2x4"s to achieve a longer center of gravity. I always laid 2-
ten or twelve foot 2x4"s, on the eight-foot bed of my pick-up, to haul twelve foot sheet rock. to keep the last four feet from bouncing and breaking.

10-10-2005, 10:47 AM
A $200 Harbor Freight trailer is the easiest way to go. It takes a while to put togeather but will haul 10 sheets with no problem and provides a platform to cut on. They will also fold in half and store in your garage.

06-02-2010, 09:03 AM
move. The whole load is secured with a single strap going over the roof (and load) and through the back windows. It's one of those motorcycle tie-down straps that you pull and it tightens. Believe me, when you get the ends pieces snugged up and tight in place, and pull that strap tight, you can't shake it loose.

I've used this for over two years with plywood, MDF and lots of solid stock and have never had an incident with anything coming loose. I sometimes take some spring clamps to clamp the ends of boards or thin ply together. It evens works for my canoe!

This was one of the very first things I made when I started woodworking so it looks a little rough. I've thought about re-making it in an effort to improve it, but it works so well like it is, I haven't bothered yet.