Monday, September 10, 2012

Building A Custom Center Console

From mild to wild, a center console can be a great way to cleanly add gauges, speakers, cup holders and more. If you don't like the look off an off the shelf plastic holder, here is a guide to make your very own for rough around $45 in materials and a days worth of labor depending on what you want yours to be.
Its best to start with a rough drawing/sketch of where or what you planning on build.  This idea may change drastically as you start to build, but some direction is always a plus.
By using some old cardboard boxes make a template for the sides or your console, this will save you time because cardboard can be quickly modified and if you cut to much you can just tape some more material on. It will also save you money on mistake when trying to cut wood in a tightly cramped area. Once you have your side completed, simply measure the distance/width you want your console to be and your ready to start cutting your wood.
I'm using 1/2" MDF, which can be purchased at any home improvement store. With your sides cut, and your width in hand. Cut several square pieces to length, these will be  your main supports to sturdy your console and keep it the correct width so that the top piece can be removable or open up for hidden compartments. To attached the wood together use a generous amount of wood glue and since we are using MDF you can use either nails and/or screws to assemble. Its okay if your wood isn't perfectly matched up or aligned at this point. A little sanding will take care of that.

Using a palm sander, or a D.A. will make quick work of any ill fitting wood, also its best to round off your corners. This will make the wrap or fiberglass later come out smoother since neither material likes to conform to 90 degree angles. I opted to add a space for the shifter, an ipod/change holder and two cup holder which this truck was sorely missing. to do that i again used cardboard to make a rough idea of the size of the holes and traced them out on the wood, using a jigsaw to remove the material.
In this console, I'm adding a 5" monster tach and 2 x 2-1/16 gauges. To make it easier for the driver to see and to make it a little more appealing, I wanted them on a slight angle. To do this there are several ways. Autometer sells hand angled cups you can simply glue down and add filler to smooth out or you could cut out circles in MDF at the angle you want them and last you can do it this way by simply adding some filler along the edge you want raised. This method is a little more messy and requires more sanding, but it requires less tools and no extra cost of buying the cups or extra MDF.

Once sanded test fit your gauges in to see if they are at the angle you wanted and that they are snug fitted. If you are going to wrap your console in material like I am make sure you leave about a 16th of an inch all the way around the gauge for the material or they won't fit after wrapping. 

Using adhesive 77 or any other kind of contact cement, you can now wrap your console. Always start in the center and work your way out to the edges making sure you have the material pulled tight. As you get to the edges do not cut them off flush, instead wrap all the way around to the back and use shallow staples to secure the material. This will insure it never comes loose do to excessive cabin heat or the overuse of product like Armorall saturating the wood.

I used a small amount of felt inside to finish it off and now the piece is ready for install

With the piece in the vehicle, you should double check your top plate to make sure everything clears (i.e. shifter, compartments, cup holders, etc.). Then your can wrap your final piece, if all is well.

With your final piece wrapped. You can secure it down to the rest of the console by using two wood screws. Which can later be capped so you can't see them but in case you need to remove the plate can easily be uncovered.

Now you can enjoy your console :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the well illustrated tutorial. I'm going to be doing this for my f250 super duty. There is no way I'm paying 200 dollars or more for one online