How to build a quality awning for less than $100


Expedition Trophy Winner
I'm cheap and lazy, that means (in my own mind) I'm resourceful. Here's how to build a good-quality awning for less than $100. I was mostly drunk when I built this and it was dark so I forgot to take pictures. Keep in mind you'll need some simple/basic tools - hacksaw, screwdriver, beer fridge, etc...I'll put pictures up tomorrow.

Step 1 - Go Shopping

Wally World
Get 4 Cheap Coleman Adjustable Tent Poles - These were like $8 at my local Wal-mart...$32
Get a six pack of beer...(not included in price)

Home Depot

Get 2x 10'x3/4" EMT conduit...$8.15 (total $40.15)
Get 4x conduit straps (these are 1" - I can't find a link to the 3/4", so deal with it)...$1.32 (total $41.47)
Get some self-tapping metal screws...$4.98 (total $46.45)
Get some washer...$8.81 (total $55.26)

West Marine

Get a package of bimini top eye ends...$3.99 (total $59.25)
Get a package of bimini jaw slides...$4.99 (total $64.24)

Order off the internet

Northern Tool 6x8 tarp...$32.99 (total $97.23)

Step 2 - Drink 3 beers (mostly because you didn't do this before and after your done making your supercheap but wicked awesome awning, your going to want to be drunk because you'll realize you are an idiot)

Step 3 - Lay out your tarp

(note, if you want to make this an even cheaper and more ghetto awning, you can use any crappy brown/blue/silver tarp, also sourced from Wal-Mart (see how cool I make it sound by using the word 'sourced'))

Lay out your tarp on a nice flat surface. Make sure it's flat. and nice.

Step 4 - Measure and cut your EMT

Please note: If at any time you hurt yourself and need to call an Emergency Medical Technician, you should NOT cut them. They are the wrong kind of EMT.

Place your EMT at the long end of the tarp, with one end of the tarp lined up with one end of the EMT. Mark the other end of the tarp on the EMT, then add 8" (real inches, not maninches).

Cut the EMT at your tarp+8" mark.

Step 5 - Cut your other EMT (conduit) to the same length.

If you need instructions on how to do this, you are more drunk than I am.

Step 6 - Have another beer

Step 7 - Screw your EMT at both ends

(no...the Electrical Metallic Tubing) Use all those self-tapping screws and washers to secure the EMT to the tarp. Make sure the tarp is centered...the EMT should have some overlap on both sides (a couple of inches). Screw all 5 grommets (and the wallaces too, if you want) into the EMT.

At this point, you should have a tarp, with two EMT conduits screwed down on the long ends of the tarp. You should also have a pretty good buzz.

Step 8 - Attach your fancy boat bimini-top things to the end of your conduit.

Whoa! Getting complicated now. On the conduit that will eventually attach to your roof (rack, etc), take your bimini jaw slides and slide them over the end of the conduit so they are at the end, pointing in the same direction your awning (no longer a tarp) will go)...note: you might have to grind/sand down the inside of the jaw slide to get it to fit over the EMT...or you can pound it with a BFH, or whatever...just get them over the end of the conduit.

Step 9 - Attach your fancy bimini top eye ends to the end of your ghetto Wally World Coleman adjustable tent poles.

These will go on the end with the black rubber thingy (hehe). Take the black rubber thingy off, then attach the bimini top eye ends where it used to be. You'll need an allen wrench. If you don't have an allen wrench, then you should have read these entire instructions before you started.

Step 10 - Attach your tarp/EMT combination to your roof rack.

Use those cool conduit straps to secure the EMT (with the bimini jaw slides) to your roof rack.

Step 11 - Have a beer

Step 12 - Wait...crap...I forgot to drill holes...

To be continued...
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Expedition Trophy Winner
ok, back to the write-up...

Step 13 - Remove awning from truck

Because you were an idiot and didn't drill all of the holes you need to pull this off. Of course, you can always skip steps 12 & 13 if you skipped steps 2, 6, & 11.

Step 14 - Drill cross-brace holes

On the EMT that will be furthest from your truck (the one you didn't bash the jaw slides onto), measure ~1" in from each end. Using a 1/4" drill bit, drill all the way through the conduit, parallel to the tarp!

Parallel means going the same direction, so you should have two holes on each end that are 90 degrees from the line of screws you already put in to hold the tarp on the conduit. You put them all in a line, right?

Screw it, a picture is worth a whole lot of rambling, and it's fun to draw

EMT 1.jpg

Step 15 - Drill vertical brace hole

Not holeS, just a, uno, yi, etc...anyways, drill one 1/4" hole approximately 8" in from the end of the EMT...the one you just drilled! Not the one that attaches to your truck. Actually, you do want to drill two holes - one on each end of the EMT, but not two in the same place!

Another picture helps (and you guys have been wanting pics, right? I bet this wasn't what you were expecting hahaha)

EMT 2.jpg

I know I underlined 8", but really you could put this single hole just about anywhere that doesn't line up with one of the screws you used to attach the tarp to the EMT.

Step 16 - Drink last beer and send someone else to get more

Or just go get your backup have backup beer right? Or magic beer (it just appears in the fridge like the commercials)? If you don't maybe you shouldn't be building your own awning, or camping, or breathing really...c'mon EVERYONE should have backup beer!

Step 17 - Repeat Step 10

Not necessary if you remembered to do all the drilling before you attach the awning to your roof rack.

Note: when you attach the EMT conduit to your roof (rack, etc) you want it to be attached but not tight - this allows the conduit to rotate in those cool conduit holder things...important for later when you are deploying your awning (note to those awnings deployed in Iraq & Afghanistan - thank you for your service).

Step 18 - Attach your ghetto Wally World Coleman extendable pole with fancy bimini top eye ends to the EMT conduit with fancy boat bimini-top things

Whew! It took longer to type that heading than it will for you to attach the two poles. Again, a hand-drawn picture is worth 100000 words (and a good laugh, I certainly won't be winning! any drawing contests)

Bimini 1.jpg

Step 19 - Drink another beer

This is beer #7, hopefully a tasty beer like a Mirror Pond Pale Ale, or Hop Czar

Step 20 - Put two of your ghetto Wally World Coleman extendable poles into the single holes at the bottom of the EMT conduit

Does this make sense? It will seems easier (1) when you are doing this in person, and (2) if you haven't had 7 beers already. Maybe another picture?

Setup 1.jpg

Step 21 - Slide your ghetto pole (with bimini attachment) into the two empty holes on the EMT

Get it? empty...EMT...empty haha take the pole that's just hanging off the EMT that's attached to your roof rack and put the pointy tip into the two holes you already drilled near the end of the EMT at the end of the awning/tarp thing. This will take some work, because the pole will want to collapse into itself (it just uses friction to stay extended) patient, have another beer or two as you struggle to get everything put together.

Step 22 - Tension the two awning poles to stretch out the awning

Just keep pulling the pole until the awning gets it on both sides (or with both hands, if that's your thing). At this point, you should have a nice tight awning. Here's a picture of the almost-completed awning

Setup 2.jpg

Step 23 - Extend support poles to desired awning height

Do you really want me to draw another picture? Figure it out!

Step 24 - Grab a chair and a beer and sit under your awning

Smoke a cigar, do whatever it is you like to do under your new awning. I like to set it up in the driveway and yell at the kids in the neighborhood like that crazy old man you were always afraid of when you were growing up.

Step 25 - Bring beer to Dave at the Overland Rally in Hollister as a way of saying thanks.

Plus, you will also get a sneak preview of my fully collapsible micro-awning-that-expands-to-a-full-size-awning off the back of my truck. Plus, I'll have lots of Northwest beer to trade :)
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I think you're nearing the purchase price of a Fiamma or Hannibal with all the beer you are consuming :elkgrin:

Homemade awnings are great, I had one that I used off the side of my Samurai for a long time. Two poles, a tarp, some parachute cord a few tent pegs was all I needed to have some really nice shade.



That would depend on whether you are drinking beer of quality or tasteless domestic mass-produced diluted urine commonly sold as "beer".:Wow1: