Switching to an aluminum tonneau cover is more efficient in every aspect. Congratulations! Get ready for more benefits. The garage can be a mini factory if you want.
Choosing this tonneau cover type doesn’t make it compulsory to prepare the bed cover yourself.
Nevertheless, there is no harm in knowing how to make an aluminum tonneau cover. I am here with the basic steps and tools to help you easily make an aluminum tonneau cover.
You’ll curate your curiosity, and you will make one. Let’s look over what the article has for you.
Tools and matters for producing an aluminum tonneau cover
Before going to the workshop, don’t forget about these items.
- Measuring tape
- Hand gloves
- Steel angles
- Table saw
- One inch-square stock
- Welding machine
- Clams or vise grips
- Square vise
- 2-inches bar stocks
- Hand drilling machine
- Sandpaper and block sander
- Rubbing alcohol for metal surface
- SEM panel bond adhesive
- 16 gauge aluminum sheet
- Hand grinding machine
- Color coating
- Metal hinge
5 Steps to make the aluminum tonneau cover
These 5-steps below will get your job done.
Measuring and cutting the rails
First, measure the side panel with steel tape. It will be your tonneau cover’s length. Take two steel angles and cut with the table saw.
Your tonneau cover’s bed rails are ready. Measure the side of the driver’s panel and cut two more steel angles accordingly.
Change the table saw’s angle and cut all four angles on each end by 45 degrees. Put them on the cargo bed’s side panels and check if they fit well with the lengths. Don’t put them back yet.
Measure the distance between the bed rails. Take two pieces of 1-inch-square stock and cut them. Check the cut matches the dimension. You will use these two pieces to combine two halves of the covers.
Keep them away for a while.
Mark the bed rails middle points using the measuring tape. Cut that point where the tonneau cover will fold.
Now, you have to make two rectangle-shaped frameworks, each consisting of three rails (two smaller and one larger) and an inch-square stock.
Welding the framework
Wear gloves and take your welding machine. Clamp the pieces on the square vise by their 45-degree edges. Weld all three angles and the inch-square stock. Check if there are any uneven surfaces. Grind the surfaces if necessary.
You’ll need to add support to the framework. So, measure the distance between the inch-square stock and the other side.
Take a one-inch-square stock, cut, set on the center section (measured), and weld. Don’t forget to grind the surfaces again.
You’ll also need eight 2-inches pieces of bar stocks. These will help the tab to stay in the right place. Four pieces will be on each tonneau cover framework (at the bed rails s side).
Drill holes in them. Clamp two on the right and two on the left. Then weld to fix with the main framework. Be careful if the side with the hole isn’t welded.
Make the other framework by the same process.
Preparing and attaching the top panel of aluminum
Take out the aluminum sheet. We’re using a 16-gauge aluminum sheet. Place the rectangle framework on a sheet and draw lines around it with a marker.
Cut the aluminum panels following the marker line. Do the same for the other panel.
Wipe down the framework with acetone and apply SEM panel bond adhesive. This chemical is suitable for bonding aluminum. Now, place the aluminum panel on the structure.
Put the other panel upside down on this panel and fix it with the additional tonneau cover part the same way. Clamp the two panels together. You can use a vise grip or any other device in your garage that clamps.
Keep them left for 5-6 hours. You can also consider riveting along with adhesive to be more worry-free about the weathering effect on the cover.
Wipe everything with acetone again. Check for the harsh edges for the last time and do grinding for a smooth finish.
Take sandpaper and scuff on the aluminum panel. It’ll make the surface smoother.
Setting some sandpapers on the block sander will be easier and more effective. After that, spray some alcohol and wipe it off.
At last, put weather stripping at the edges.
Put together the two tonneau parts
Take a big aluminum hinge that matches the size of the inch-square stock—drill holes on both sides.
Place the two tonneau cover parts again at an upside-down position like last. The two-inch-square sides must face the same direction. Set the hinge on them with clamps and drill following the pre-drilled holes.
Now, rivet them so that the two parts are paired and operable. Check if you can unfold it without any problem. Fold and unfold several times. Finding no issue means it’s done.
Seal the junction with pipe repair tape. It’ll work as a waterproof guard. Now, finally, you have your aluminum tonneau cover ready.
You can develop its appearance. Consider applying gray black coating on that. Your truck can have a professional look by that. There are also other coating options.
Let it dry. After that, your aluminum tonneau cover is ready.
Benefits of the aluminum tonneau cover
Hard bed covers come with several extra benefits. You’ll have them with an aluminum tonneau cover.
- It lasts longer than any other conventional tonneau cover.
- It undoubtedly gives you better security from theft.
- There’ll be no stretching issues like soft covers.
- Your cargo is more secure from rain, snow, and strains.
- Folding and unfolding are easy with this tonneau cover.
- The aluminum tonneau cover gives improved mileage.
- Your truck gets a sturdy look with an aluminum cover.
- It’s light but strong.
- An extra place for additional goods on it.
Home-made aluminum covers-
- Saves your money
- Allows you to design and modify design your cover anytime
- You can make it the way you like
- It comes without hassle to choose from numerous tonneau covers in the market.
- Don’t require buying particular extra parts.
Not only benefits, but you should also secure safety if you’re using a self-made tonneau cover. As we’ve mentioned, don’t leave sharp edges with your cover. It can cause injury during loading, unloading, folding, and unfolding.
Is aluminum the most secure tonneau cover?
You may get several advantages with an aluminum tonneau cover over soft tonneau covers and even some hardcovers. But you’ll get many other products with improved safety and service. Yet, what you’ve got isn’t negligible.
Is it easy to make an aluminum tonneau cover at home?
The process is easy. But, making an aluminum tonneau cover will require patience and consistency with a little hard work. Make sure you have the right things and follow the steps correctly.
Is a homemade aluminum tonneau cover waterproof?
Aluminum tonneau covers are excellent and water-resistant if said precisely. To a certain extent, it might be considered water-proof. But, above all, user caution is advised.
There are no doubt an aluminum tonneau cover’s benefits if it’s self-made. However, comparing this piece with any industrially manufactured product will be the wrong approach.
So, we better not step on that way. Let’s now check how much you can win with ‘how to make an aluminum tonneau cover?’. Rest assured, you’ll thank me later.