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How to make it yourself: Door Panel Arm Rest

Discussion in 'Explorer - Ranger Interior Accessories' started by Brian1, December 15, 2013.

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    1. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Over time the plastic skeleton inside the door panel arm rests break down and become loose or even fall off. I recently had this happen and it wasn't the first time. Before, I had just got another used one from the junkyard as new ones are no longer available. This time I decided to make my own.

      Materials:
      Strip of wood minimum 3" wide x 12" long and 1/2" thick.
      Vinyl strip 6" wide x 15" long
      Block of foam padding
      Cardboard for making a template
      Spray can of adhesive glue
      3 of 1/4-20 bolts x 3/4" long
      3 flat washers
      3 of 1/4-20 Tee Nuts for wood 3/8" barrel length
      blue thread locker (optional)
      sand paper
      black spray paint (optional)

      Tools:
      Sharp scissors
      Pencil
      Wrench or socket for bolts
      Hammer
      Mechanical or electric staple gun loaded with 3/8" long staples
      Drill with 1/4" and ~5/16+" drill bits
      Jig saw

      Remove what is left of the arm rest from the door panel. Place a piece of cardboard on the panel and trace the shape the arm rest needs to be to match the door.

      Transfer the template shape to the piece of wood and cut it out with a jig saw. Give it a light sand and slightly round any sharp corners and edges. At this point I chose to spray paint my piece of wood black which is entirely optional.

      Hold the piece of wood in place and drill from the backside 3 holes that will be used to bolt it on to the panel. Consider the room needed to fit the washers. Drill the holes 1/4" or slightly larger to fit the bolts. Finish drilling the holes in the wood to the diameter needed to fit the barrels of the tee nuts, usually 5/16" to 3/8". On a solid surface hammer the tee nuts into the wood being careful not to split it. The flange will be pointed up once installed.
       

      Attached Files:

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    3. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Find some foam that is suitable for the cushioning. I got this block from some packing material I received in a recent shipment. Depending on the density of your foam, cut it to the appropriate height to closely match the stock arm rest. In this case I cut mine to 1" thick since it compressed down. An electric kitchen knife worked very well to cut the foam but a good pair of scissors or other knife should also do the trick. Lastly, cut the foam to the shape of your arm rest, a slight amount of overlap is fine if your foam is compressible.

      Spray 1 side of the foam and the wood, wait till it is tacky then join the 2 together and wait for it to cure. This will keep the foam in place while you wrap the vinyl around.

      Get your strip of vinyl (I got mine at my local craft and material store for $3 and change, enough to do about 3 arm rests) and staple it along the straight edge of the arm rest. Then wrap it around, compressing the foam, and start stapling it as you go. You will have to make a few relief cuts as you form it around the radius. Tuck the corners in as nice as you can, this was probably the hardest part while making it look good and hiding as much of the seam as you can.

      Bolt it on using some blue thread locker and then reinstall your door panel. Not quite as good as the factory fit but this arm rest is much softer and should hold up for a long time!
       

      Attached Files:

      Last edited: December 15, 2013
    4. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      1 other thing I did while the panel was removed was add some 6-32 x 3/4" long button head bolts around the door pull handle since it was starting to separate from the rest of the panel. And with that, this project was complete until the next arm rest breaks off...
       

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      Last edited: December 15, 2013
    5. DB_1

      DB_1 Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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      Nice work Brian:thumbsup: I have the same interior as the second gen X's and they dont seem to hold up any better. Although mine is holding together for now the vinyl is curling from the bottom and the pull handle is loose. I'd like to make tube doors but I'm holding on to the last bit of comfort my truck has:p:
       
    6. Tbars4

      Tbars4 Moderator Emeritus Elite In Memoriam

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      ..Great job..:biggthump

      ..My panels and arm rest are fine but this might be what I wind up doing in the future as every door panel I've used in the rear, the ashtray eventually falls thru and just a hole remains..:banghead:
       
    7. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      thanks guys. Eliminating the ash tray was the main reason I made new ones instead of rebuilding the old ones with new backing plates. I have also had the ash trays fall through on occasion.
       
    8. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      I have a few moving around in mine....while I'm in the wood shop making my new shifter knobs, I'll have to do this as well!
       

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