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Truck Bed Wood - A Beginner's Guide for Chevy & GMC Pickups

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Car enthusiasts tend to use a lot of complex terms that can be confusing to those with less experience. However, here at Classic Industries, we want to clear up the confusion, and make it easy for anyone to tackle their first restoration project. With this in mind, we'd like to talk about truck bed wood. After all, if you're new to restoring trucks, you might not know the difference between bed strips, angle strips, reinforcement strips, and cross sills, or how many of each your vehicle requires.

Many Chevrolet and GMC classic trucks were built with bed wood standard from the factory, while later models came standard with a metal bed floor and only offered wood as an option. Read on as we go over the basics of bed wood components and configurations.

The above photo of a 1948 Chevrolet 3100 is courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

Truck Bed Wood Components

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Cross Sills - Metal bars which sit below the truck bed wood planks, between the wood and the frame of the truck. The bed strips are bolted to the cross sills, giving the bed wood strength and rigidity and providing the surface to mount the bed to the frame.

Reinforcement Strips - Additional metal bars which are shorter in height than the cross sills, and attach to the wood and bed strips only. These provide extra reinforcement for the wood and strips, but don't attach to the truck frame like cross sills.

Bed Wood - Wood planks which sit on top of the cross sills and reinforcement strips to form the truck's bed floor. These planks are held in place by the bed strips and angle strips, and can be purchased in a variety of colors, grains, and finishes.

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Above: This '56 Chevy Stepside features 8 wood boards, as original. Its bed strips and angle strips have been painted to match the body color.

Bed Strips - Metal strips which bolt to the cross sills and/or reinforcement strips, and secure the bed wood planks in place. These are available in paintable raw steel, stainless steel, chrome, and other finishes.

Angle Strips (Stepside models) -  Angle strips are bed strips, but with one key difference: they are formed in a 90-degree "L" shape, instead of being flat. These strips fill the gap between the inner bed side and bed wood on the far left and right sides of the bed floor. These special strips are typically found on Chevrolet and GMC stepside models, and are often spot-welded to the bed side sheetmetal.

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Above: This '65 Chevy truck features 12 bed wood boards finished in a glossy dark stain, accompanied by black bed strips and polished hardware.

Which Chevy & GMC Trucks Had Bed Wood?

Chevrolet and GMC trucks were offered with bed wood floors standard until 1972. From 1973-87, Stepside models still came standard with bed wood, but Fleetside long-bed trucks from 1973-80 could be ordered with optional bed wood (RPO E81).

1973 1987 C K Series Chevy truck generation 1

Above: Long-bed Fleetside "Square Body" trucks like this one could be ordered with optional bed wood by selecting RPO E81. (Photo courtesy of General Motors.)

GM truck bed wood designs varied over the years and generations, changing the width and quantity of wood boards. Due to differences in bed width, Fleetside models required more boards than Stepside models. Check the list below for a quick reference guide, and click the links to view bed wood kits on our ClassicIndustries.com web store.

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Above: The owner of this 1952 Chevy truck chose dark stained bed wood boards and bright stainless bed strips. The angle strips were painted black to match the bedsides.

Where to Buy Truck Bed Wood Kits

If you're in the middle of a truck restoration project, or plan to start one soon, click the button below to download a free parts catalog and check out our bed wood selection. You can also browse our bed wood parts online. If you have any questions on which parts to choose, give us a call at 1-800-854-1280—our tech department will be happy to help you find what you need.

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