Build an RV Steering Wheel Table for Under 20 Bucks!
Living in an RV often means that we are short on counter space. We got to thinking about all sorts of space saving ideas, some better than others. One space that always seemed to be wasted in our RV was the driver’s seat area, more specifically the steering wheel. Now this little trick won’t work for everyone, but chances are if you have a diesel pusher you can make yourself a table to sit atop it while parked.
We built our table for under 20 bucks but we had luck on our side as the Home Depot in our area had some birch plywood scraps they let us have for only 5 dollars a piece. If you’re buying materials new, you’ll probably be closer to 40 dollars from start to finish, less if you have a friend who already has some of the materials in their garage.
OK so not everyone carries around a toolbox full of power tools so this might not be a project for while you are on the road but you could always find us during your travels and ask to borrow our tools! Plenty of neighbors have more tools than you might think and there is always tool rental shops which can rent small hand tools for just a few dollars a day. A bunch of Home Depot locations have tool rentals and if you’re hard pressed you can pickup a cheap plugin jigsaw for around 20 bucks. If you find yourself near a major city you’ll find quite a few new woodworking shops are popping up where you can actually join just like you would a gym to make just about anything you can dream of. They have everything you’ll need to complete the project, including materials in most cases. Oh and don’t forget kids and grandkids! You could always forward this video to them and say “this would make a great gift for the holidays!” Anyway, regardless of how you get your hands on the necessary tools, this article will walk you through how we made our table.
- Safety goggles/glasses
- Jigsaw (or access to a scroll saw or bandsaw)
- household clothing iron
- sandpaper or sanding block (amazon link)
- Utility Knife (for cutting veneer – amazon link)
- Piece of string and small set screw (you can also use a protractor or any round object to create your template in the shape of a circle)
- 24×24 piece of birch plywood, as blemish free as possible.
- Wood stain in the color of your choice
- Stain applicator (stain brush/foam brush)Polyurethane (we used an aerosol product amazon link)
- Veneer Edging with adhesive glue (amazon link)
- Polyurethane – We used a spray on, but a brush on works well too.
- Rubber Feet – We found 1 inch feet work best. (amazon link)
Building Your Steering Wheel Table
Our video above is pretty thorough so i won’t go into a tremendous amount of additional detail here. There are a couple tricks I want to highlight however that didn’t make the video which are listed below.
Cutting Your Table
For our Spartan Chassis Diesel Pusher the perfect table size for us was one with a 22” diameter. In our video we used a set screw, piece of string and pencil to act as a makeshift protractor for cutting a circle. This works, but you need to have a steady hand and have to work to keep your pencil perfectly vertical. This method also creates a challenge because most jigsaws cut aggressively in the down direction so the “clean cut” edge may be the same side as where your set screw is located. We recommend that you take a little extra time and make a circular template out of cardboard first before overlaying it to the wood that will eventually be your table.
Kala actually suggested I use a small bistro table we found as a template which was an excellent idea we thought of after the fact. Once you start looking around for circle templates you might found they are actually everywhere!
Once you have your circular table cut, you’ll notice that plywood has a fairly rough and unattractive edge to it. This is the nature of plywood and they make great edging products that help cover this up. Our video outlines how we applied our self adhesive edging product to our table in less than 20 minutes.
Applying Wood Stain
Make sure to get your gloves out for this step! Applying wood stain can be messy business. Find a shady area that will be free of wind, dust and debris to apply your wood stain product. We applied our stain in direct sunlight and it worked, but we had to keep a close eye to be sure we didn’t let it dry. You can apply your stain using a stain brush or a foam brush which i find both work well for this process. Take special care to apply enough stain to the edges of your table. We also applied stain to the bottom of our table as seen in the video. We don’t look at the bottom much but it gives the project a more finished look. Once you’ve allowed the stain to soak into the wood, wipe off excess with a absorbent cloth that you plan on throwing away when your done. We applied 3 coats of stain to get the color we were looking for to match our RV’s cherry cabinets. After you’ve applied the stain make sure to follow the stain directions and let the table dry for at least the minimum amount of time required.
Polyurethane is a protective coating that really brings out the shine and detail of any woodworking project. It also provides protection again liquid, sun damage and the elements. There are a variety of wood stains out there that come in all sorts of finishes ranging from matte to gloss. For our table we used a semi-gloss spray on finish which did a decent job. I’ve never used spray on finishes as brush on ones have always been considered higher quality but the spray on did a nice job. Make sure to read the directions on whatever finish you end up with. Some clearly state to NOT shake the can which will create air bubbles in the finish, others say to shake away, best to check first. We applied 3 coats of finish to our table lightly sanding out imperfections in between coats until our final coat.
Polishing or Buffing
Once you’ve applied your last coat of polyurethane you may find there to be imperfections remaining in the finish that feel slightly bumpy to the touch. This is normal and I used car polish to buff out these imperfections. I’m sure a very fine grit wet sandpaper would have done a better job but i didn’t want to add to the budget. This stuff worked like a charm. Car polish is made up of very fine grit sanding agents designed to remove imperfections from car paint. Polyurethan is basically a soft clear coat so why wouldnt it work? Turns out it did the trick, just be careful not to over polish!
Mounting Rubber Feet
Adding rubber feet to your table will allow the table to sit level on your steering wheel. Our video goes into depth on how we accomplished this and it’s worked well for us. There are plenty of ways to accomplish leveling your table. Our method also allowed for use of the table in other areas not just on your stearing wheel. We use it outside on the picnic tables to act as a center piece when hosting guests for cocktail hour.
Share your Thoughts
Like our table? Think we missed something? Share your comments and feedback below. We love hearing from you!