Tuesday, January 4, 2011

custom dining table build

The Inspiration
My BMW 525i died recently and I pulled the engine apart to see what was wrong with it. It ended up not being worth it to fix, but I'm to sentimental to just junk everything. Plus I've been using a folding card table as a dining table. This is the top half of the engine, the head.

Set to work doing some CAD in Google Sketchup. Designed a support system for the engine out of 1" square tubing and sized a glass top. I use Pro/Engineer at work and found Sketchup hard to get used to. Seems pretty easy for non-engineers to pickup though. Plus it's free!

Found a local metal supplier with 1" square tubing. This is 16 gauge mild steel. They sell them in 20' lengths and I had them cut it to length. I needed 8 pieces at 26" lengths for the sides and 3 pieces at 36" lengths for the crossbars.
Cost: $50 including labor

Welding Practice
This is the hard part. Welded the raw materials together per design. I have a Lincoln MIG welder from previous projects that is much neglected. It was challenging to get the angles square without a flat work surface. This was done on my balcony. I'm also a pretty crappy welder. The supports warped a bit because I didn't think to manage the heat.

Drilled holes in the center section, using the existing head bolt holes for guides. I wanted to use the original head bolts to secure the head to the frame, but they are just barely too short. The weight of the head adds to the stability of the frame nicely.

Glass Top Added
The original glass supplier I found is all the way downtown, and only opens while I am at work. Luckily, I found that IKEA sells a glass table top nearly the same size. It's a bit narrower, but it was also $30 cheaper. They didn't have plain clear glass either, so I chose one that had "Love" etched in it in all different languages. I guess it kind of fits the theme.
Cost: $80

From Below
I'm considering painting the frame black to give it a bit more contrast. I'm also concerned with the steel rusting. Might be okay because its indoors with low humidity. I also need to source plastic caps for the open ends. They're kinda sharp.

From Above
Glass is difficult to photograph well.

Side Angle
I am fairly pleased with how this project turned out. Need to practice welding though.

Engine Head: Free
Steel Tubing: $50
Glass Top: $80

A few more photos here.


  1. Whoo! Yeah it'd be cooler if it had car speak on the tabletop. OR. CODE! hahah