Last Updated on April 21, 2022
A tonneau cover offers great value by providing security and protection against obstacles that can damage your truck bed and the elements in it. A tonneau cover comes in different price ranges from lower to higher. And there can be a situation like you don’t want to spend that much money for your tonneau cover. We will guide you how to make an aluminum tonneau cover in this article. Also, you can make Wood Tonneau Cover at home.
Homemade Aluminum Tonneau Cover
There are different types of tonneau covers and they can be both hard and soft. Following are the most popular types:
- Roll-up tonneau cover
- Folding tonneau cover
- Retractable tonneau cover
- Hinged tonneau cover
Now, we are going to discuss how to make a hard folding tonneau cover with aluminum. Let’s get started with the process.
What will you need?
You will need to gather everything mentioned below before start building your tonneau cover.
- 16-gauge aluminum sheet
- Piano hinge
- Aluminum angles
- A Drill
- Pop rivets and rivet gun
- Table Saw
- Sheet metal shear
- Nut certs
- Knurled nuts
- Black spray paint
- SEM panel bond adhesive
Making process of a hard folding tonneau cover
It’s not that hard to build a tonneau cover at home if you just follow the steps mentioned below.
- Firstly, start by setting the aluminum angles around the perimeter of the truck bed up against the toolbox and on the tailgate. Use aluminum pop rivets to attach the angle iron.
- Now, take measurements between the angles attached at two sides of the truck bed. After taking measurements cut one piece of one-inch square stock to the appropriate dimension.
- Do a quick test fit to make sure that it fits. Once it’s fit, cut another piece of one-inch square stock. These will be the two pieces that join together to the two halves of the cover.
- Then, measure the length of the bed rails to find out how long you need the sides. After measuring the length, cut them at a 45-degree angle using the table saw.
- Once you have cut all the angles, put them in place on the truck and make sure that everything fits appropriately the way they are supposed to.
- Now, measure the length of the bed and cut the center sections out where they are going to fold. After measuring, cut the one side out and then clamp the two pieces together, two sides together and make sure that they are squared.
- Now, you have two slightly smaller rectangles. Clamp the pieces in the square vice and tack or tig weld the two pieces together. Check if the two front angles and the two back angles to make sure that everything is nice and square. Weld them together and ground the surfaces where they will sit against the rails and on top nice and smoothly.
- Take a piece of aluminum plate and drill holes alternating on both sides and then ground the burrs off the holes so that the rivets fit together smoothly.
- Once you have the rectangles laid out and welded together, lay it on a 16-gauge aluminum sheet and trace out the corner. You need to have the center sections, so cut the center section and set them in their square. You may need to grind the edges to fit them properly.
- Now, cut out some sections of 2-inch pieces of bar stock from some flat bar. They are going to make the tabs hold the thing in place. After this cut the aluminum panel using the sheet metal shear to use this for the outside top panel.
- Then, drill some holes in the flat bar as much as you need. Use nut certs and knurled nuts and clamp the tabs to the thing, square them up and weld those.
- Once you have everything welded together, clean up and use SEM panel bond adhesive which bonds aluminum together. Now, rivet these things together using a rivet gun so that the sheet metal doesn’t fly off and cut somebody’s head off.
- Put one panel in place and lay some paper on top of it. Then, put the other panel together upside down to use the two panels to clamp them with each other. Apply SEM panel bond adhesive between the two panels again to attach them. Let it dry. Wipe everything unnecessary using acetone and ground the edges so that they fit nicely with the pieces of angles and bar stock.
- Use some mechanical adhesion with alcohol and spray everything down to scuff up the entire panel and wipe it off. Use rubber seals to make it weatherproof.
- Now, put everything out of the truck, clamp the hinge in place and drill the outside holes on both sides at the top and the bottom and check if it opens and closes properly.
- Use pipe repair tape at the joint of the two panels to make it waterproof and spray paint over the whole panel. It’s now ready to install.
So, these are the steps you need to follow to make your hard folding tonneau cover at home. It’s not that hard if you give it a try.
A tonneau cover protects your truck bed and elements inside the bed from damages. You should be able to build a hard folding tonneau cover now by reading this article. And do you know that you can also repaint your tonneau cover by yourself. If you face any difficulties leave a comment below for more help from us.