awning looking up

Homemade "Bus Shelter" Awning

[Nov 2006]
I'm just finishing off a homemade 4m^2 awning made from galvanised scaffolding tubes, kee klamps and polycarbonate. My wife calls it 'The bus' shelter, in what I take to be an endearing tone of voice. As in "Oooh...look at that lovely bus shelter!".

I've got a lot to do before our baby arrives. I promised my wife I would make some wooden storage units in a couple of rooms to help organise much of our clutter. I made some fitted wardrobes using beech laminated plywood a number of years ago and quite liked working with the stuff. Only problem is, I haven't got room indoors to cut up 8' x 4' plywood sheets on the table saw and the weather is getting pretty crappy now for working outside. So I decided to erect an undercover area out the back garden that is rainproof and large enough to work under. When all the work is done it would then be a nice place to hang out for the family (British weather being as crappy as it is, means that back gardens are only habitable for 6 months of the year without resorting to welly boots and rain coats).

I've worked with scaffolding poles and kee klamps before. I once made a wardrobe out of them and matching glass topped desk for my wife many moons ago. My main garage workbench is also from them. As easy as mechano, the tubes are simply chopped to size and the whole construction alan keyed together. I figured the combination would be ideal to make an awning with.

For a bit more interest I decided to do a curved roof. I couldn't find a cheap pipe bender that would bend such a large radius and reluctantly abandoned plans to make one from the old moped gearbox that's rusting peacefully by the back gate. After a bit of phoning around I found a company fairly local that would bend the pipes for me for a very reasonable price.

A long strip of 50mm x 3mm aluminium was tek screwed to the top of the bent pipes. This forms a flat bed for the polycarbonate to sit on. Another strip is then placed on top of the polycarbonate and that too is tek screwed down to sandwich the polycarbonate in place. The polycarbonate is 10mm 4m long and 700mm wide and bends around the gentle radius easily.

Tek screws are another wonderful invention. Especially the heavy duty ones I used. They are basically a bolt with a drilling head at the tip. A magnetic hex driver bit is used in a standard drill to drill, tap and screw the bolts into place in one operation. They screwed into the 3mm galvanized steel scaffold tubes a treat.

The support poles at the front are just temporary at the moment and I'll eventually replace these with some sturdier posts. I'm still very nervous of how it will cope with a strong wind. No doubt I'll find out soon enough. We've had a fair bit of rain since it's been up though and underneath stays nice and dry.

awning looking up

It looks pretty cool as you come down our street, to see the curved roof looming over the fence, like some expatriate mutant dwarf Sydney Opera House. I can't wait to pimp it out with fairy lights for Christmas.