How to Build a Custom Console

My truck is a '85 SR5 model so it came from the factory with a nice center console. When I did my V6 engine swap about 8 years ago I modified the stock console to integrate a B&M Megashifter auto shifter as shown here. This worked well for years until I installed my Marlin dual case conversion. I then wanted to change my console. It really was not practical to use the original. I know others who have used one of the Jeep aftermarket consoles, but those would not work well with the second shift lever I had.

Here you'll see the new console I built and I'll show you how I did it from scratch.

The main body of the console is constructed of 16 gauge (0.060" thick) sheet steel. I purchased three pieces of sheet. One was sheared to the width I wanted the console to be and was long enough to make the entire length of the top surfaces of the console. Two other pieces were cut big enough to make the two sides.

I took my measurements and decided how I wanted the console to look. It was to provide a storage area and boot areas for my auto shifter and two t-case shifters. I tack welded the two side panels together and cut the profile pattern using my table saw and my saber saw. Cutting them both at once ensured they would be exactly the same. This photo shows part of the side.

I wanted to make all the top pieces from one piece of material so they would all be exactly the same width and easier to mate. I even used all the pieces in the same order from which they were cut from the whole piece.

I devised a method to construct the console which was easy to do with tools I had at home. This figure shows the five panels I used to construct the console. To make the bends I clamped the sheet between two pieces of lumber in a vise. After I made sure everything was square I bent the sheet where I wanted. A few practice pieces convinced me it was pretty easy to do. With a little careful thought you can figure out how to make the pieces fit accurately. Some pieces were final cut after bending using my table saw. Panel 2 was the last piece installed.

As I bent pieces I would weld them to the side panels. Some c-clamps and welding magnets come in handy here. I used a 110v MIG welder to weld the console together using fair size tack welds. The way I overlapped most of the pieces towards the bottom makes accurate assembly easier.

Here you can see the console during assembly. Each top panel is welded to the side panels and the edges filed to match closely. The two holes are for cupholders (gotta have those ya know). I bought two plastic cupholders from a boat supply shop. They drop through the holes and are held in place using silicone sealer.

This closer view shows the plastic cupholders dropped in place. You can see the signs of the welds showing through to the top of the console. Once I finished all the welding I filed the edges to match where the pieces met. To finish the console I wanted some texture on the surface. I used some Duplicolor light gray trunk splatter paint. The color was a little too light, so I followed up with a couple of coats of medium gray paint.

I used the original B&M shifter boot for the forward auto shifter. For the t-case shifters I used the smallest Hurst boots. I made a steel sheet plate to cover the t-case boots and secured it with 1/4" button head SS screws threaded into nuts welded to the backside of the console sheetmetal. The boot plate was painted with Harley Wrinkle Black paint.

For the storage area, I made a top from particle board. I added some high density padding and upholstered it with gray nagahyde material. The top is attached to the console with two small hinges.

The photos below show the final product of my work.

Thanks for reading!

Copyright (c) 1999 by Jay Kopycinski, All Rights Reserved.