Moving My Stuff

I rarely like other people to pick up or move my wood. We woodworkers are like packrats when it comes to what wood we have and it’s surprising where we acquire it from or how, what we actually have with regards to wood types and sizes and so on. In the USA, with a family of boys, I owned both a people mover and a truck or two. The vehicles could move wood, deliver projects and function for carrying a family too. With all of the boys gone now, pursuing their own lives as adults,I have no need for a second vehicle and I do not want a gas guzzler of a truck as in the states either. Here in the UK, with small winding narrow roads and streets packed solid both sides most days as car parks, I drive a smallish vehicle called a Citroen C3 Picasso. I also own and tow a 4’x 7′ trailer to supplement for my loss of a truck. With these two in tandem I can move almost anything I want to anywhere.

In the car itself it’s nothing really special except its block square, the seats fold to make a clear flat surface and the front seat contributes by folding forward in a kneeling position that makes it level with the rear area. This gives me about 8 feet from dash to rear door. With some jigging I can elevate the front above the dash and gain an extra foot or so and in a crunch I have left the tailgate on top of my wood and driven with the side windows open quite safely.

I learned to manoeuvre a trailer early on in my life and have towed one since touring England in 1985 for nine months on the road camping. Needless to say I still love the practicality of trailers. Funnily enough my 16 flat bed four wheeler was easier to manoeuvre that the short one I have now. The trailer means I can readily carry 4 x 8 sheet goods like plywood as well as a goodly load of wood too. Ten foot lengths are always fine and rarely would I need longer.

Tying down

Mostly I rely on narrow band webbing and cranks to tie off. They hook onto the apron skirt of the trailer perfectly. I created a wooden platform covered by a heavy duty marquee tent tarp rather than using the inside of the trailer for 90% of my carrying. I can cinch everything down fine that way as you can see. Inside the car I can carry desk size pieces quite well, and the roof bars lend themselves to boards of a decent length too. I have carried plenty of rough sawn wood overhead and sandwiched plywood between 2x4s quite securely. For rope I use sash knot rope. It’s very strong, ties knots readily and the waxed sheathing is cotton so friction  and slippage are not an issue. My OCD tendency plays a role in keeping things orderly and I use hair elastics for keeping the coiled webbings ready for the next tim I use it—no tangles.

19 thoughts on “Moving My Stuff”

  1. Wow! Nine months touring England, road camping. I’m assuming family in tow? That sounds like a wonderful adventure.

    1. It really was. This was pre USA days when we migrated stateside. It was a wonderful adventure for us all.

  2. Christopher D

    I could carry longer lengths inside my Vauxhall Insignia than I can inside my Vauxhall Combo van but I absolutely the Combo and can’t imagine getting another car.
    For anything over say 6′ long then I would get the materials delivered but may be tempted by a roof rack to give more flexibility for carrying 8′ lengths of timber.
    Whilst a small trailer would be great I don’t have room to store it at the moment so it is not really an option.
    But yes, the ability to carry your own tools and materials is quite satisfying and almost empowering.

  3. Peter Compton

    I consider myself very lucky. I have a big workshop and lots of room for wood storage. As my wife and I sometimes go different ways, I have an old Utility (Ute). Good for one ton and 2.4m tray with roof rack, and recently a small hoist (250kg). So getting both wood and delivering my creations, its a god send. I carry a saw and a few other tools behind the seat, for when I see decent wood or pallets, not forgetting the Verge pick ups, I don’t know if that is just an Australian think (skip diving maybe). Where would I be without it ;D

    1. Skip diving is illegal theft here in the UK as the contents are transferred to the owner of the skip when the depositor fills it. That said, it seems everyone does it with impunity. Usually there is someone around to ask so I do. Just saying so we don’t set up for criminal record in an innocent quest to recycle what’s destined for the chipper, chunker, landfill or burn pile.

      1. Hi Paul. It may be illegal in the U.K. but I can’t pass a skip without looking in same as you been doing it for years ain’t going to stop now. After all we are doing our bit for recycling. Can you imagine being taken to court for taking a few feet off 2 by 4. A few years ago a fellow acquired a skip put it in a lay by people dumped things, he sorted it and made good beer money. Thanks Paul.

        1. I understand both spheres. The assumption always is that the contents in the skip are destined for the landfill but that’s not the case at all. The contents are generally recycled and sold on by the skip owners. And we may not be talking the same thing here. In the UK a skip is a huge steel container and not an oversized trash bin on wheels. The trash bin on wheels are open gain according to the US Supreme Court so long as the bins are on public property and not private land or premises. In public the assumption is that the former owners have abandoned ownership.

  4. Hi Paul. Some how you allways touch on food for thought. I aquired a Vauxhall Combi van a bargain at £300. I wish l had got one sooner, open up the cage I can get in 9ft lengths great for storage my trestles when not needed .Spare timber fishing tackle the lot.
    Definitely get a other one when this one bites the dust.
    Regards Larry.

  5. Good advert for a C3 :-).
    I use my Peugeot Partner but only 54″ load length, I think a newer version is similar to C3. Would be really good if seats were to fold down as yours Paul
    On a wood working note all that I do has good accuracy ……thanks to you Paul

  6. Darryl Machtmes

    The longer trailers are easier to maneuver due to the tow vehicle having a shorter turn radius than the radius afforded between the hitch ball and trailer axle.

  7. I am a bit spoilt for load area as the van I have for work is the long wheel based VW Transporter. This was deliberate though as a crash cage is mandatory at many of the places where I pick material up from as they will not let it be loaded otherwise. The short wheelbase would not fit a 2400×1200 sheet. Please bear in mind the result of sudden stops due to other not so aware users of the road. The unrestrained contents can injure or kill the driver. A long time back in my old van with no cage a piece of material shot forward when I had to slam the brakes on because another driver did not give way as should have been the case. It left a rather large dent in part of the dash. Better it than me but a fairly convincing reminder of physics at work.

  8. I swapped my C3 Picasso for a Polo and still rather miss the vanlike utility it provided. I added a trailer to compensate, but it’s too small for sheet goods and most bits of furniture. Luckily a good mate has a van!

  9. Just yesterday I had occasion to stop by a cabinet shop. They utilize rough cut, kiln dryed hardwoods, mostly hard maple and red oak. They run the planks through a huge planer first that also squares the edges. The offcut edges are thrown into a pile and are then banded. I loaded up my Chevy SUV with as many off cuts as I could pull from the banded pile. Not difficult as the banding is applied just right enough to hold it together. I choose only offcuts 2 inches or wider. Yesterday’s haul was particularly advantageous as I got fifteen that were between 3-4 inches wide. All pieces are 10-12 feet long. I also picked up a few of the 1 inch variety as my pile beans are just breaking through the crust in my vegetable garden. After the edges are rounded a bit with a block plane they make excellent poles for the plants to climb.
    As I have a metal and mill I do quite a bit of metal working so I crossed the road to the railroad track and a little searching produced six discarded track plates and other various bit of metal that will end up as parts of tools or holding devices. Here in the US the discarding of unwanted material is reaching epic proportions.
    I try to repurpose as much as I can but I only have so much room!

  10. Thomas Angle

    I like that little trailer. How much does it weight and what is the capacity?

  11. I have a Honda Accord and with the backseat/trunk door open I can easily carry all the rough lumber I need. If I do need sheet goods then I will rent a truck from Home Depot for approximately 20.00 dollars.

    P.S. Yes, I am the only person in the U.S. that does not own a truck!

    1. Well, I have driven a corolla for 20+ years (and before that a civic)! On occasion I catch myself dreaming of how nice it would be if I only had an accord 🙂

  12. “I created a wooden platform […] rather than using the inside of the trailer for 90% of my carrying.”
    This means the center of gravity is higher inducing more roll in the bends.
    In your last picture, you could have put the boards under the workbench for better stability.
    I would go slowly in the bends.

    I am so happy with the workbench I completed last summer following your old videos and blog posts.
    Thank you.

    1. Paul Sellers

      I’m sorry Sylvain, but I had great stability and the bench top and vises, with the bench upturned as it was, lowered the centre of gravity. The roll factor is also governed by the base width to height ratio. With centre of gravity lowered to 24″ from the ground and the base width of the trailer at 72″ it was fine.

  13. The longer the draw bar on a trailer the slower is the reaction time and the easier to steer, on a short draw bar the distance from the hitch to the wheels is reduced significantly causing the trailer to move instantly, not leaving any time to react.

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