How to Build a Winch Bumper on Your Own!

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Last Updated on June 27, 2022

DIY winch bumpers are in vogue these days – and literally everyone seems to be doing it. In fact, many people actually prefer to do it themselves rather than buy ready-made winch bumpers.

Now, keep in mind that customizing a bumper would be pretty inexpensive and yes it shall turn out the way you want it to. 

However, the feel and final outcome will hardly be as neat or sturdy as a professionally made one. But there’s no wrong in giving it a try though.

And so, here we have gathered some resources that shall teach you how to build a winch bumper yourself. Hope It Helps!

Before Going into The Actual Process of How to Build a Winch Bumper, Something You Should Know

You should already know that a bumper has some serious responsibility. It needs to be withstanding the applied force. That it faces during vehicle recovery. So, the winch bumper must have these three things:

  1. Strength increasing additional reinforcement provided by internal bracing. Some DIY winch bumper kit or plan does not have it, be mindful while picking.
  2. Weld points are the first to go through pressure, so having good welds in the winch bumper is a must. However, welding is a matter of technique, which usually professional welders are only capable of providing.
  3. And of course, the winch bumper must fit the truck perfectly. There’s no way it can be of any help if the fitting is poor. So, you must focus on the dimensions as much as possible while working on this winch bumper DIY project.

How to Build a Winch Bumper in 9 Steps

Build a Winch Bumper on Your Own!

Step 1: Start The Project with Dumping the Old One

You must get the old bumper out first. And for that, you’ll need some rust buster lube. Go for PB blaster, it works great. The WD-40 will do as well. Or any product that will basically soak the bolts so that they come off easily.

Now get them unbolted. It’s going to take some time, as these are pretty huge in size. Once you have the old bumper out, keep it stored in place. In case you mess up this project, at least you have the old one to fix and use again. 

The ones that come with trim or molding, need careful handling. Because if you jerk too much and crack those, it’ll become completely useless for later purposes.

Step 2: Deciding The Design, Taking Measurements & Making Templates

At this point, you need to sort out three things. Coming up with a design type, taking measurements of the frame’s mounting points, and then creating some templates with basic cardboard.

If you go this way to make a winch bumper, it’s going to be well planned and will have less probability of getting ruined.

  • While deciding the design of the DIY winch bumper, going for a simple layout is better.

Of course, we don’t mean you should opt for some “random pipe pieces welded in place” type of design. However, keep it minimal and less complex. Because that can make the fit-up tricky for you later. Also, you’ll end up taking a lot more time to finish things.

  • For the winch bumper build, taking the accurate measurement is a must.

You can take the mounting points noted from the old bumper. KEEP IN MIND, it should be very precise. The distance in between as well as other relevant measurements, take your time to get these as accurate as possible. A pencil marking of those points will help in making the layout.

  • And finally, for the template, you can use cardboard and some duct tape.

Mocking up a side of the bumper through the cutting panel should be easy. For symmetrical design, there’s no need to go for the entire thing. Also, have multiple panels to give yourself some experiment scopes. You can try all of them from different angles. Maybe take some photos and compare.

Also allows some space for fixing in case the measurements turn out to be a little erred. To build a bumper for the winch, some wiggle room for correction really helps.

Step 3: Making The Main Panel

Anyone willing to learn how to make a winch bumper should be capable of working from an initial structure. The structure you’ll make at this point basically. And it’s usually the hardest phase of the entire project.

You need to weld a main cross plate into the two main mounting plates. So that later it connects to the frame. This way, you’ll have a structure to work from. And finish the rest of the bumper assembly. 

Here’s the structure creating a process to make a bumper for winch:

  • You need to use one of the chosen cardboard templates for the front main panel dimension reference. As well as for having the mounting panels depth of sitting on the frame.
  • Use a quarter-inch thick plate to make the two panels. Then follow the previous measurements of drilling holes for mounting the panels or frame tabs. You want to do this on a level ground to keep the frame tabs parallel. Keep testing fit and measuring as required to copy the same distance perfectly. Messing up this would mean running the winch bumper entirely.
  • Next, you want to fix both frame tabs to frame using the bolts. Then using a stand, you want to crip the front main panel up. That way it will be in contact with the frame tabs. You can make the front panel with the same quarter-inch plate. Use a square and comfort its true-ness while positioning is done. Then tack the panel into tabs.

Keep In Mind – During the tack welding, make sure you don’t make it too weak nor too strong, it’s the test fit and you’ll build with structure. So, it would come off and on from the truck.

Step 4: Work On the Corners Next

The base structure is ready. Now go for the corners. You’ll use the template’s corner dimension for reference. Affix it with the real bumper you bolted up. You won’t move the template and fine-tune it. So that the dimensions as well as angle for corner panels can be decided.

Use thin steel to cut the corner panels. Cut the first corner after transferring the stencil on the 3/16-inch plate. Use a bandsaw and it will give cleaner results.

Tuck that created panel in place, and uses a hammer for tuning the angle. Next record the angle using a gauge such as a protractor. And basically, you can do the exact same thing for the other side bumpers.

Step 5: Making The Upper Panels

The panel that would start from the main front panel and visit the grill of the truck on the back, is basically the upper panel. 

And you can use the 3/16-inch material for cutting this one. You can use the template once again and go for a certain size as well as angle to make this upper panel. Using a bandsaw, you can easily make the cut. And then take it to position, check if the angle is right and carry on.

Tips – Having it cut at bar stock will help with achieving the exact right width. Also, leave some wiggle room in between the upper panel and truck body. As under load, the body moves slightly and touches the upper plate. And if there’s no room, it’ll leave scratched paint.

Step 6: Finishing The Remaining Corners

You need to complete the corners to make a bumper. Just tacking them in position and wrapping the fit up shall do. Make sure to take your time and keep measuring as well as checking the angles to have symmetry on both sides. Keep using the template of this DIY bumper and finish the remaining upper corner panels.

Step 7: Keep Test Fitting

As you are here to build your own bumper plans it’s important to always test fit to trim. Once the bumper tack welding is almost together, you can see the angles on the bottom next. 

Bolt the bumper and visit the actual sketch next. Using chalk mark the cut lines. And then use a jigsaw for cutting it. You are almost catching the look of your final bumper DIY. 

Step 8: Add Lower Panels

If you also want to add some lower panels, then again use a template for that. To have it pre-decided what type of size and feel you’d like to have, then cut the panel down and tack them into place. Again, test fitting, as well as angle adjustments for getting it done, are nothing new.

Keep In Mind – The more you add panels, the bulkier the bumper gets.

Step 9: Weld Closing & Applying Paint

After you are absolutely sure that no steel shall come in contact with the body, it’s time to give it a heavy tack weld. So, it can be permanent. You want to start from the center. And then go towards the outside part for putting the final weld. After welding a section, re-test it to confirm everything and then continue.

Next, you can use the grinding wheels for cleaning the weld to prepare it for the paint. You can also use a roll-on bed liner. It’s basically to hide the flaws of your bumper.

Apply the paint and let it dry. And that’s basically how to build a bumper. Then have the fairlead roller bolted up. Get the lights into position and basically install the bumper on.

Also Read: How to Make a Winch at Home – DIY Guide

Wrapping Up

And that’s how to build a winch bumper, we tried to keep it as detailed as possible Also, if you are wondering if this route would be better than professionally-built bumpers, here are some thoughts before we finish.

To really have that DIY winch bumper work and last longer, you would need to use a rust resistance finish, have additional reinforcement with fitting steel plates as well as keep aside emergency tow money because it’s a homemade version that might need fixing again and again. All of that would make it quite the same price as a professionally built one. 

Also, the three major parts of a strong winch bumper, that we talked about earlier, are all available with professionally built ones.  So of course, you’re getting better value for your money if you buy professionally built ones.

Now if it’s not almost impossible for you to spend generously, then maybe skipping the DIY route will be a better decision.

But then again, if you really want to give it a chance, go ahead. See you in another piece soon, Bye!

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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