Design Preview Report: Western Camping Table


For my final design I am planning on building a foldable table that I can attach to the back of my car for camping or any other outdoor event I would want a table at: tailgates, festivals, etc. When I first got my car, a Toyota Forerunner, one of the options available had a table and grill attachment built in the back, which I thought was very cool. Since then I have wanted to make something to attach to the back of my car so that I can cook while outdoors. 

I am a fan of camping, and usually go a few times a year. I use my Toyota Forerunner to get around campsites and thought I could make something that fits in the back of my car for ease of access. I also wanted something to use to cook, as trying to cook food over an open fire without any kind of table is pretty difficult. I decided that I am going to make a table that folds up completely and attaches to the trunk of my car. 

The things that I wanted from my table was for it to fold down to a small size that I can easily put in the back of my trunk, and to have a cut out where I can put a camping stove or at least some way to contain it so that it is easy to cook while I am camping. I was even considering making part of the table out of cutting board material, so that I can just cut materials straight up on the table. At the very least I want to have enough space so that I can cook with ease wherever I am.


Though I am running with this folding camping table idea, it took me some work to commit to this idea. When I was thinking about what to do for my final project I went through a bunch of ideas for what I could possibly do for it. I made a mind map of all the ideas I wanted to try out, starting with an interest I have and trying to dive deeper in there. I considered potentially making a disk golf basket or bag, or maybe a guitar stand or something for my drums since I am a fan of music too. None of these ideas drew my attention like the camping table however, and I decided to stay on that. I thought about what I could do to make this table and what I wanted to do for it, thinking about it when I was cooking or if I was in the shower. 


There are a couple reasons I chose the aesthetic I have for my project. I am going to mostly use this table camping, and since I grew up on the west coast and now go to school in Colorado, I want to make a Western aesthetic for my table. The Western half of the United States has a type of style and aesthetic that I love. The vast area is home to some of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and would love to have something that makes me think of the beauty I have seen while camping around there. The drive between Colorado and California goes through deserts and mountains that make me think of cowboys and western movies that I love and I would love to emulate it.

The route to home from Boulder

This drive goes through some of the prettiest parts of the country in my opinion, and it makes me feel like I’m a cowboy in a Western. Here are some photos that I’ve taken of the beautiful scenery on the drive (ignore all the pictures that look like I’m driving).

Off a biking trail near MOAB

The Desert of Southern California

Zion Canyon

Driving and camping through this beautiful desert scenery really inspired me for the aesthetic of this project. I wanted to make the table fit in to the nature that I usually camp in. I want to make the table out of nice brownish wood that I can stain to make it look beautiful. I also want to use different types of wood, both dark and light to bring out a more rustic appeal. I also picture maybe adding bull skulls and cacti so I can make this come out on my table, either through a wood carving or laser engraving. I have a vision in my head but I just need to ideate on my ideas to make something truly cool to complete the aesthetic of the table.

Alternate Aesthetics

Another alternative that I thought about to compare to my current Western aesthetic is an all white aesthetic. Many modern kitchens have this aesthetic where they make everything white in an attempt to look “clean”. I thought it would be interesting to consider my project with this certain aesthetic as I actually really do not like this aesthetic. I have seen way too many videos where someone ruined a beautiful wooden table by painting it entirely white. If I were to make my table with this aesthetic it would look functionally the same and work the same, but would be completely white with nothing interesting on it. I am definitely not going to do this one, but I find it interesting to envision my project looking like this.

Another potential aesthetic I could’ve chosen is industrial. Making the table follow an industrial aesthetic would look really cool in my opinion. I would probably make a lot of the table out of steel and make sure to show off the materials. I think it would look very appealing but would be more difficult to make a table out of metal and probably make all the cuts and connections as perfect as possible. I probably won’t go for this aesthetic but find it very cool to consider.

Design Plan

I have already gone through the ideation of the project and my design plan for how to create it, and the next couple of steps involve acquiring all the parts I need to make the table and then starting on the manufacturing itself. Below is my timeline for my project as I plan to get it done. 

I finished all the planning for my project, now all I have to do is acquire all of my materials and then manufacture it. I plan on trying to get all the materials in the next week and start manufacturing as soon as possible either before or after spring break. I am going home for spring break, so I am going to measure the camping stove I have there and adjust my designs so I can potentially incorporate a camping stove addition into my project. 

Here are the plans for my design. I want to be able to fold the table into a small box so I can easily store it in the back of my car. I would like for the table to have an “L” shape so that it can act as a wrap-around counter like in a regular kitchen. Doing this will make it hard to fold down. Two thoughts I had for folding is either folding along a 45 degree angle or to have it fold down twice.

The two possible configurations for an “L” table

I will probably go along with the straight table that will fold in half with the legs and crossbar support able to fit inside and sit in the back of my car. I plan on using a carabiner to attach it to the hook on my trunk door latch so that it connects to the back of my car, and then it will rest on the back of my bumper. I then want to support the hinge connection by using another board that connects to the hitch on my car and under the hinge using brackets.

This might be a difficult product to construct but I think I will be very happy with how it turns out. I hope I can finish this in time and the way I want to.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Garrett, your project plan looks great and I look forward to seeing how it turns out!
    I think the all-white aesthetic could have been interesting, as the nature of something used for camping contrasts a “clean” all-white aesthetic, however, I think you made the right call going with more of an outdoors-y, western aesthetic.
    Do you have much experience working with tables, large hinges, etc? If so, what have you worked with/made? I am impressed by your plan!

  • Venkata Sanyasi Krishna Vidhan Rallapalli
    March 17, 2024 11:17 pm

    Your project sounds incredibly practical and well-thought-out! The foldable table attached to your car for outdoor cooking is a brilliant idea, especially for camping trips and other outdoor events. Your attention to detail in terms of design and aesthetics, such as the Western theme and the use of different types of wood, shows a real passion for the project.


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