Have an old tailgate laying around? Have an empty space in you apartment/house that needs to be filled? Want to make something any car nut will love? If you answered yes to any of these then the tailgate coffee table is for you!
Back story: two years of rebuilding an old truck has left me with lots of spare parts, in this case an old tailgate that was well past its prime. Using this as well as other spare angle iron and ply wood I was able to create the center piece of my living room. Hope you enjoy.
What you will need:
-1/4 inch sheet metal
-paint (paint gun/rattle cans)
- Metal grinder
- Ply wood
-some nuts and bolts
Step 1: Step 1: Making the Legs
First you are going to want to measure your tailgate as every make/model is different as well as individual tailgates having imperfections. In the case of mine there was a slight bow to it (why it was not used on the truck again).
To start you are going to want to cut 4 steel plates into squares that will fit into the corners on the underside of the tailgate. These plates will be what the legs will be welded to.
Now decision time, you have to decide weather you want to bolt the legs to the table or if you want to weld them to the table. In my case I choose to drill three holes per corner to allow myself to remove the legs to have an easier time while moving it as well as allow myself to replace different legs in the future if i desire. However some people may not like seeing the bolts from the other side and may choose to weld the plates on. If you choose to bolt the legs on you are going to want to drill the holes into the plates before you weld the legs to the plates as well as drill the holes into the tailgate. If you are planning on welding straight to the table you should wait to weld the plates on until after the legs are attached.
To make the legs I used 1.25 inch square tubing that I had an excess of lying around, I then cut it in 4 lengths of my desired height (in this case I wanted my table to stand 3 feet off the ground with the top on). Next I cut two lengths of angle iron from and old bed frame that would act as cross supports as well as be able to hold a shelf under the table, also easier to pre-drill the holes for the shelf not before all together. Finally I cut 4 small square steel plates, and drilled a hole in them that i would weld to the end of the square tubing to latter attach feet to.
Welding, You may find easier ways to do this but the order that I did everything in was as follows:
- spot weld the square caps with the hole through the middle onto one side of your square tubing
- find the height that you would like your shelf at and weld the angle iron across to two of the legs
- take your original square plates and bolt them to the underside of the tailgate, next stand you legs up onto the center of the plates, make sure they are not leaning one way or are off center as you want your table balanced. spot weld them in place.
- after everything is spot welded in place unbolt the legs from the table and do a complete weld around all areas.
- after you make sure you have solid welds you can grind off all excess material (unless you like the big glob of weld look)
Step 2: Step 2: Paint
Now that the legs have been ground down you can turn more of your attention to the centerpiece, the tailgate. This part is 100% up to your preference of style and skill level.
First you will want to make sure you properly sand down the surface to remove unwanted material as well as give the paint a rough surface to stick to, my tailgate was close to how I wanted so I used a small grit sand paper to just scuff the surface. Next you will want to clean the surface thoroughly making sure to remove oils and other particles that will show up as impurities in the paint, paint thinner or acetone work great. Do all of these steps with the legs as well.
First step of painting after the surface is prepared is to put on a coat of primer, I used a metal etching primer to make sure I got good adhesion and coverage. As you can see from the picture I formed a tripod out of ladders that allowed me to hang the tailgate in the middle of and use a spray gun (you do not need this you can easily just use spray can, I used a spray gun because I had it from painting the truck and thought why not). After the primer was dry I decided on a white tailgate so I got a can of white oil based paint, thinned it with acetone and sprayed the tailgate for 3 coats. Since the paint was glossy I decided not to do a clear coat. For the legs I simply used a black rattle can to finish the legs off after the primer had dried.
Step 3: Step 3: Putting It All Together
After the paint had dried I took a tap and cut groves into the small steel plates at the bottom of the legs with a tap so that I could screw in rubber feet for the table to stand on. I then bolted the tailgate onto the pair of legs, I used stainless steel hex bolts because I thought that they were the best of what I had laying around. This is also the step where you will want to add you shelving underneath for support. I used old plywood that I cut to length and then stained, it is held in place by 4 wood screws on either side.
Step 4: Step 4: Finishing Touches
Later on I decided that I did not want colored letters on my tuck but I thought that they would look great on the table so I added the letter stickers which I believe made a big impact. Finally I ordered a piece of tinted glass to lay on top and make a flat surface. If I was to do this again I think that I would have ordered glass to fit down inside of the tailgate instead of across the span, across the span works well however I am nervous that someone will try and put their feet up on the table and have it shatter, so like I said maybe think about just a piece of glass to go down inside of the table if you decide to go that route.
Hope this helps, Good Luck!