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Fold Down Table

Some vehicles are graced with a fold down table every time they open the back of the vehicle, however if you have a barn door arrangement at the back of your vehicle, such as the 90 series Prado, and some other Land Cruiser variants, you will be looking for somewhere to make that coffee, or sanga when you pull up for morning tea or lunch

If you are looking to make one of these, here is one way of going about it.

Some of the design choices you will need to make are:

  • What timber to make the table from
  • How to hinge the bottom of the table
  • What to use for the stays to hold it when down
  • How to secure the table when in the travelling position
Some of the issues with each of these choices is discussed below:

Timber Options:

This table is made using 6mm ply for both the backboard, and the table components.   In hindsight for such a wide table, something more substantial should be used for the table piece to prevent bowing.   With the 90 series having such a wide door, (1200mm), I had to fit a piece of 2x1 to provide this support .

To mark your ply to the right size, use the trim as a guide.  Simply tech screw to the door (which will be covered up if/when you sell the car, by the original trim)   If you want to use the existing holes to mount the backing piece, then mark them as well.   One of the options to mount using original holes, are these contracting screws available from Bunnings


I used a single piano hinge across the bottom of the table, with some flat headed screws.    Because I only had 6mm ply for the table, these had to be ground off on the bottom, which shows when the table is in the travelling position.   In hindsight, using something like 12 mm ply for the table would have made a better option from both the bowing issue described above, but also securing to the hinge.


I had a lot of trouble trying to sort options for this.   Some of the options included:

  • chain (which may rattle, or otherwise be difficult to stow between the two pieces of ply when the table is in the travelling position.
  • Cord, which would stretch
  • brackets from underneath in a shelf support arrangement.
The solution I ended up with was nylon coated steel fishing line.   It is rated at 65 Kg and crimped with a pair of vice grips.   I'm very happy though a word of warning - make sure you get the right twist in it, so that when you stow the table, it curls inwards to be hidden away - otherwise it will twist outwards and is very reluctant to be forced into any other position.   To do this, simply rotate one of the ends, and see which way it coils - if the wrong way, rotate the end the other way.

Securing for Travel:

I was looking for something that wouldn't protrude too far, and was easy to use.   In the end, I put a strip of ply the same thickness as the table across the top, with about a 1mm gap between the lower edge of the strip, and the top of the table piece in the travelling position.

The catches themselves are two pieces of aluminium strap (such as that often found in filing cabinets to hold the files up).   I put a couple of washers on, and screwed them in with sufficient tension to remain in any desired position.   The end result is something that can be easily used, and doesn't protrude to catch on anything.

We have found the table to be an excellent modification - one of those that you find many uses for when you have it - "What did we use before this"!!

Email me if I can help !!  

Ivan Sanders

Hi Ivan,

Theres heaps of ways to do these tables, so I thought it might be worth sharing a few ideas before I forget the lot :-)

I've made a few and have made minor modifications each time. They are very simple to make using the grey trim as a template. I'd suggest that people have their table as low as it will go. So the hinges are right down at the bottom, just above where the rubber seal mates. Then you can eliminate the LHS stay and replace it with a short piece of 1" dowel that sits it on the rear step. You can then open your bottom drawer, but need to clear the debris off the table :(( The dowel makes the whole thing more stable. I also had the table go all the way up to the top (can cut around the latch if you retain that), and do away with the handle (useless). With the wide table, I had no problem putting a Coleman shellite twinburner stove on the table.

I used your favourite tek screws (no, actually just small self tappers) to attach the board to the rear door. The bottom hinge screws retain the ply as well, then at the top, tek screwed into the steel panel, behind the top cowl, so they weren't visible. Just got to make sure you miss the rear washer tank.

I use two case catches (Zenith have them at the hardware store) - same catch on the old Globite we took to school. They are really easy to fit and use.

I prefer to use 4 single hinges, so that spillages drain off; I also had a problem with piano hinges rusting and siezing up.

12mm Ply was best for the table if you don't want to reinforce it. 9mm is just OK. 4mm is OK for the backing.

For the stays, I used 2mm Stainless steel stranded wire. I drilled a 2mm hole through the table and soldered a round electric crimp on the back to secure it. Same at the other end. The thing I like about it, and your steel fishing line would be the same, is that you can bend it inwards, so that every time you close it it bends in, and won't get caught in the door.

Chains are aweful in this respect. Also the wire doesn't rattle.

When it comes to sell the car, it all comes off, the trim goes back, and nobody realises what was there.



2002 HDJ79

Various Pictures:

water syphon setup

these stop drawers from opening as they lean against table when door shut

Prado tie downs used on top shelf

No table

Large fold down table with single stay

Jeffs rod holders

Jeff Morgans flyfish rods.


hidden chopping board

HF aerial holders and 12v sockets


garbage bins on fridge slide

drop down hinges are great

dowel used to support table

Conventional simple setup

closeup of water syphon setup noting small tube breather and use of taint free hose

chuckwagon type setup

case latch

2mm wire stays



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