Custom Contractor Trailer Walkthrough

Part 1: Designing a Contractor Trailer in SketchUp
Part 2: Contractor Trailer Toolbox: Cutting and Assembly
Part 3: Custom Contractor Trailer Walkthrough

In this video, I walk through the completed contractor trailer before its maiden voyage. Of course, storage and organization solutions like this are rarely completed. They are all continuous work in progress. Stuff will change as problems arise. However, I think we got a really good foundation for Ben and his crew to work with.

Cost Breakdown

Many people have asked what the cost of this build is so lets dive in and figure it out. A couple of things to note. First, the only definitive cost number I have is for the sheet goods. Everything else is an estimation.

  • $1020.22 including tax for sheet goods. I didn’t purchase them so I can’t verify the receipt. I texted Ben and this was his response. 8 – 3/4″  15 – 1/2″  4 – 1/4″ All ac and luan. The job called for 25 sheets but he got two extra sheets of 1/4″.
  • $40 for glue and brad nails. This is an estimated shop fee. We used almost an entire gallon of glue and a bajillion brad nails.
  • $650 for the design fee. I have 5 hours invested with Ben coming up with a 100% custom wireframe design and another 8-10 hours converting that wireframe into a completed 3d representation of the job and creating the CAM setup. So 13-15 hours of design work at $50 per hour.
  • $1000 for my labor and shop fee. We had 10 hours of total shop time. I actually didn’t charge Ben anything for this build. He’s a friend of mine so I helped him out with my labor cost. In return, I got content for my business and got to use him as a large project guinea pig. This was the largest and most complex CNC job I’ve ever done so I wanted the flexibility of not being under the gun if I majorly screwed something up. The information and experience I gained tackling this design and build is far more valuable to me than $1000 of labor revenue. Ben got the home town discount on this one. I could have double dipped and charged him a fee but he’s a contractor and I may need a helping hand in the near future with some contractor work ;) If Ben hired me to build another one of these for someone else I’d charge $100 per hour of shop time with me running the CNC and helping wherever else I can. But before you ask, no, I’m not interested in making another one of these at this time. Buy the files and have someone local cut it for you.
  • $1100 for the 10 hours of Ben’s business. This includes 5-1/2 hours of day one with Ben and his wife and the 4-1/2 hours of day two with Ben, his wife, and one team member.

So in conclusion:

  • $1060.22 for just materials if all labor is donated. This was
  • $3810.22 for materials, design, cutting, assembling, and installing.

What Would You Charge??

I’m not in the business of making stuff to sell so all of this is just my educated guess. If you have a 4×8 CNC and would tackle a job like this, what would you charge? Leave a comment so anyone reading this, including myself, can learn more and get a better understanding of large scale CNC jobs like this.


  1. I’m not a contractor, or have a CNC like you have, but I was still curious to come over and read this breakdown. It is very educational to read about the different areas of breakdown. As in many projects, the material cost is the smallest cost.

  2. Very interesting as I haul a 6×12 for plumbing. It has shelves on both side. Getting a new 7×14 double axel and plan on using this in basic design for the new layout. Wonder what the weight factor is though with all the extra wood.

      • And the tools! Be sure to calculate the weight *before* you buy the trailer. I built a tiny house on wheels on trailer designed for tiny houses. It has two axles at 5k lbs. capacity each. threw everything into a spreadsheet and made calculations of the weight and thought I had over 1.5k of headroom. Just near to completion I drove it over some truck scales at the local recycle yard. I was at 10k and still needed to add tiled bathroom, steel stairs and ladders for the two lofts, and miscellany. Long story short the rated weight includes the trailer itself, which was 1.7k. Doh! almost 20% over. It survived the trip from California to Arkansas but I wouldn’t use it to travel the country because of my stupid mistake. Contractor trailer probably needs to be 20% under due to all the moving about.

  3. $3810.22 is a deal compared to pay someone to cut all the pieces by hand. (But shop time includes costs including paying for a percentage of the CNC’s initial investment cost, and its depreciation) I previously purchased the Ron Paulk SMART trailer plans and paid someone to fabricate the parts for me. (Before the price hike of materials), it totaled $3520, which included some fabrication from a small CNC machine to batch out drawer fronts and tons of dado slots. So, not far off from your costs. I will say that the one feature I like most about the Paulk drawer design is all drawers have a passive locking mechanism without any hardware. Otherwise, it’s cool to see a difference approach to a contractor trailer!

  4. Well done on the build and appreciate the series provided with the breakdowns. I understand you get some negative comments about CNC work, but this is a perfect example of using the most efficient and effective tool. I appreciate you continuing to share your experiences in how you use that tool. I also appreciate you making the CNC files available for purchase. I have been using my CNC for mostly recreational/hobby work efforts. But, I am trying to be able to start using it more for some production type work efforts, like the slot together cabinets etc. I don’t quite have all knowledge of the intricacies to this process fully understood yet so like to study your cut files to see how you did your design and then try to understand why you did what you did. Thanks again for making the files available. Too bad I didn’t see these when I bought almost all of your available files for the Black Friday Discount (Haha). Wishing you the best.

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