Posted by Shelby Yates on

Creating a custom roof rack for your truck can be both a practical and a satisfying project. With the 80/20 t-slot system, you can design a rack that perfectly fits your needs and adapts to future requirements. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how I built mine, along with some insights into the design choices and benefits.

The Inspiration

I own a 2023 Tacoma Off Road with a short box and a Leer canopy that came with Thule tracks. I needed a versatile roof rack that could handle heavy loads such as lumber for home projects, outdoor gear, and even a canoe or kayak. I wanted something strong yet lightweight, and the 80/20 t-slot system stood out as the ideal solution due to its modularity and robustness.

Design and Planning

Before diving into the build, I took precise measurements of the track on my truck's canopy. This step is crucial to ensure a snug fit and optimal functionality. Armed with these measurements, I explored the 80/20 catalogue to select the best components for the job.

Component Selection

After careful consideration, I chose the following 80/20 components:

  • 15 Series 1515-LITE-BLACK (2 @ 48” tapped both ends for 5/16-18, 4 @ 1.5” with a 5 degree miter): This profile provides the necessary strength for heavy loads without adding excessive weight.
  • 4336-BLACK Gusset Bracket x4: These brackets are perfect for connecting larger ratchet straps, ensuring secure tie-down points.
  • 4302-BLACK L Brackets x4: These are used at the ends of the roof rack bars to keep materials in place when loading and unloading.
  • 10 Series 1/4-20 Stainless T-Nuts PN 3678 x4: Used for connecting the roof rack to the Thule tracks on the Leer canopy.
  • 15 series 5/16-18 Stainless T-Nuts 3678 x4: Used to connect gussets to the post and cross bar
  • Stainless Steel Fasteners PN 3611 x8 and 3663 x14: To prevent rust and ensure long-lasting durability.
  • T-Slot covers PN 2110 x3: To reduce wind resistance and provide a surface to slide material on top of the cross bars
  • End caps PN 2030-PLAIN x4: To finish off the ends of the profile as each end gets exposed after cutting

Building the Roof Rack

Cutting the Profiles

I started by cutting the 1515-LITE-BLACK profiles from stock 48” and 24” profiles to the required lengths based on my measurements. This forms the main structure of the roof rack.

Assembling the Frame

Next, I connected the main profiles using the 4336-BLACK gusset brackets. These brackets provide excellent support, making the frame sturdy enough to handle substantial loads.

Adding the End Brackets

At the ends of the roof rack bars, I attached the 4302-BLACK L brackets. These brackets are essential for keeping materials in place, especially when sliding items onto the rack.

Tapping and Securing the Ends

I tapped the ends of each profile to add the end caps securely. This ensures a clean, finished look and adds extra security to the assembly.

Custom Angles and Fasteners

I cut the support bar slightly at a 5-degree angle to better follow the contour of the canopy. I chose all stainless-steel fasteners to prevent rust, and used light-duty blue Loctite to secure the system in place from vibration, as I frequently go off-roading with my truck.

Adding T-Slot Covers

To make it easier to slide items on the racks and to eliminate wind noise and reduce wind resistance, I added t-slot covers. I measured and cut the covers with scissors for a perfect fit. This simple addition greatly improves the functionality and efficiency of the roof rack.

Assembly Tools and Techniques

During the initial assembly, I used a 3/16 and 5/32 ball end hex wrench . The ball end design was especially useful for getting into tight spaces and working at different angles. To connect the roof rack to the truck, I used 10 series 1/4-20 t-nuts (PN 3678) and 5/8 long bolts. This setup allowed me to drop everything into place, ensuring the gussets were centered and the t-nut could securely catch the track that came with the Leer canopy.

Benefits of the Modular Design

One of the standout features of the 80/20 t-slot system is its modularity. This design allows for easy modifications and expansions:

  • Future Adaptations: I can add more bars to create a basket design or to support different types of cargo.
  • Customization: It’s easy to reconfigure the rack to accommodate an awning or additional storage options.


Building a roof rack with the 80/20 t-slot system offers unmatched customization and strength. It’s a perfect project for DIY enthusiasts who need a versatile solution for their hauling needs. The modular nature of the system means you can adapt and expand your design as your requirements evolve.

Share Your Projects!

Are you inspired to start your own DIY roof rack build? Share your creations and experiences with us! Let’s inspire and learn from each other in the DIY community.

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