This is the custom steel front bumper that I made for my truck, to replace the stock bumper, which is made mostly of plastic. Instead of merely giving specific directions for my 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser, I will outline some useful and somewhat more generalized guidelines for those interested in making a custom front bumper for any make and model of 4x4 truck, for the purpose of four-wheeling and off-road recreation.
After a last-minute decision to take a week-long trip to Moab, Utah, for some epic four-wheeling with a group of friends, I realized that the stock bumper of my Toyota FJ Cruiser just wasn’t going to cut it. But I wasn't up for spending $1000++ on an existing after-market bumper. As a product designer and former metal fabricator, I figured I could design and build a highly functional one with all of the features that I desired, while infusing the design with my own personal aesthetic. I collaborated with a friend who also drives an FJC and has plenty of metal fabrication experience -- and a water jet cutting machine.
This project was a significant undertaking on a very short schedule -- 2 weeks from beginning to end, including design time. The difficulty of your project will depend upon your specific bumper design, skills, and fabrication processes. You can tailor your design to your skill level, access to tools and fabrication processes, functional needs, aesthetics and budget.
Why on earth would I need a bumper THIS beefy on the front of my truck? Check out the video to see the kind of extreme challenges I had in mind when I designed it. A friend posted a video on YouTube of some of my rock-crawling stunts on a recent trail run which reveal just how much abuse this solidly built bumper can withstand.
Step 1: Tools, materials, and safety equipment
The tools needed for this project will vary based on your specific design, as well as the make and model of your truck.
TOOLS USED FOR MY FJ CRUISER BUMPER:
cold cutting metal saw or chop saw
water jet cutting machine
tube bender (external vendor)
1.75" diameter hole saw
drill press, drill bits and countersink bit
angle grinder with grinding disc, sanding discs and scotch brite pads
protractor or angle measure
thread gauge (for measuring existing tapped holes in frame)
long straight edge
socket wrench set
long furniture clamp
dead blow hammer
Philips screwdriver (for removing existing bumper trim)
3D modeling software
a couple of strong friends for the installation
OTHER TOOLS & PROCESSES YOU MIGHT USE FOR YOUR BUMPER DESIGN:
MATERIALS FOR THE FJ CRUISER BUMPER:
3/4" steel plate [(2x) shackle mounts] -- 5" x 8"
3/8" steel plate [(2x) plate uprights, (2x) frame horn mount plates] – 16" x 30", and 8" x 12"
3/16" steel plate [(2x) cheek plates, bash plate mount tabs] – 16” x 24”
1/4" steel plate (winch mount plate and stiffeners) – 36” x 10”
1/8" steel plate [deck plate, bash plate, (4x) winch plate gussets] – 33” x 10”, 33” x 30”, 20” x 10”
1.75" OD steel tube, 0.120" wall – 15’ approx.
1.5" OD steel tube, 0.120" wall – 15’ approx.
1.25" OD steel tube, 0.120" wall – 32.5" [reinforcing cross-member]
high strength bolts and nuts
Earplugs or other hearing protection
Long sleeves or welding jacket