I first made one of these 6 years ago as I needed a coffee table in the lounge room at home, but I wanted something cool and a bit different. I’d seen a few engine coffee tables online and thought it was a great idea so I made one, I have since made a few more. This is a heavy coffee table that looks great in a man cave and is pretty well theft proof unless your superman. I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible to build, you can be sure if I can do it anyone can!
Note: Please don’t waste good/rare engines (it makes me sad). I only use dead ones.
1x Engine (Complete or Block)
1x Sand Blaster (Not essential but easier)
1x Blow Torch (For stubborn nuts and bolts)
1x Wire Wheel/Drill
1x Aluminium Foil
1x Brake Cleaner
1x Etch Primer
1x Desired Paint Colour
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Find an Engine
First and possibly the hardest step is to find an old engine. The one pictured here that I’ve used is an old Cleveland 351 that I picked up for free. It’s important to know that the condition of the engine is irrelevant, so the cheaper the better.
Step 2: Tear Down the Engine
Now that you’ve got an engine you need to tear it down to the block. Depending on the condition of the engine this will range from easy to extremely painful and annoying.
No mechanical knowledge is needed for this but handyman skills are helpful. Some bolts may be rusted on and need some heat and gentle persuasion to come loose.
As you can see mine had swallowed a lot of water so everything was rusted pretty well solid, this is a worst case scenario but I was able to do it without snapping a bolt. If you take your time, be patient and think it through you will be able to tear it apart without too much trouble.
Note: Be sure to keep any parts you’d like to have on the finished product.
Step 3: Degrease and Clean
Now that the engine has been torn down to the block it’s time to clean it up. To clean the block from years of grease and oil you will need to use plenty of degreaser and a wire brush to work it in. Then hose or pressure clean it, repeat if necessary. Be cautious as to were you allow the oil and grease to run.
Once you have cleaned it from all the oil and grease you will need to remove any rust. If you have a sand blaster this job will be much faster, if not it’s best to use various size and shape wire wheels on a drill to clean the engine block. Be sure to work the wire wheel into every crevasse to make its clean for good paint adhesion. This can be VERY time consuming, do it right and you won’t regret it.
Step 4: Etch and Prime
Once you’ve made sure the block is clean and you’ve allowed it time to dry you can spray a light coat of etch primer on, follow this up with a rust preventative primer (help protect against future rust). Be sure to get an even coverage getting into all the curves and corners, a few light coats is much better than one heavy coat.
Step 5: Paint and Assemble Parts
Once the primer has dried you can now paint it the colours you desire. Again be sure to allow even coverage, and do a few light coats to avoid drips and runs in the finished product.
You can also bolt any parts that you’d like back onto it. I put the camshaft, gear and rocker lifters back in just for looks. I also polished the brass nut that the temperature sensor was in. All these pieces add to the overall look of the table. Be sure to clear coat over any bare metal you wish to keep as this will prevent rust.
Step 6: Clean and Attach Pistons
No matter what condition the engine was in the pistons will need to be cleaned after years of carbon build up. I used aluminium foil (won’t scratch), brake cleaner and elbow grease to clean mine. Notice the difference in the first picture.
You will need to now attach the pistons to support the glass for the table. To attach the pistons you will need to bolt them to the block where the heads were attached. In this case I used 4 1/2” bolts bolted into the top holes at each end. It may be necessary to drill out the conrod hole to accomodate the desired bolt size.
Note: I’ve found one bolt per piston to be more than enough. However if you are concerned you could drill and tap a second hole.
Step 7: Attach Glass and Feet
Now you can attach your glass. By attach I mean sit it straight on top and admire your handy work. It’s a good idea to cut out anti slip matting to put between the glass and pistons to stop it from sliding and scratching the glass. I found the glass online on an old glass coffee table, I found this was much cheaper than getting a piece of glass cut to size.
For feet I used rubber door stops bolted into the holes under the block where the sump was attached.
Hope this helps anyone looking for a fun project to do. If you have any points or questions please feel free to comment below. You will notice I’ve also put a photo up of a V6 coffee table I did for added inspiration.
This is an entry in the