The last time I worked on the bed, the pull-out, sliding shelf was installed. Now I’ll continue with a door for the toilet compartment. In deliberating the hinge options, I came across a simple wooden hinge design, that looked appropriate for this application.
Under the built-in, slide-out shelf is just enough space to house the portable toilet. But the access door is still missing. With a hinge at the top, movement of the toilet is allowed towards the front and/or the back of the van, when opened. Space is at a premium and in this case there is only 1¼“ available for the top hinge.
While figuring out the planned construction method, I stumbled upon a wooden hinge example that I liked. To give it a try, I started with a new tablesaw jig, that would allow me to repeatedly make the cuts between which the gaps will be removed.
Having batteries, doesn’t automatically mean access to 12V. Thus, two access points are planned in the van. One 12V socket is located at the solar components (controller, charger, inverter, etc.) compartment, under the bed. It’s immediately next to the pull-out shelf and serves to power my laptop.
12V Power Socket
It’s a standard 12V power socket, that includes a faceplate and wires.
First a hole, the size of the socket, is drilled with a Forstner bit in the ¼” plywood. The hole sits at the top, right under the bed overhang and is largely out-of-sight.
The 12V socket is held in place by the round rear cover, which is screwed onto the main body. The thickness of the plywood prevented that, so I shortened the cover by removing a short length with a metal saw.
I recently pulled the 12V wire from the battery compartment, but for now, I hold off connecting it to the socket, as I also plan to install a 12V fan at the same location and connect it to the same 12V wire. The fan should supply some needed cooling to the solar components.
After my last post, I took a short brake, but now I’m refreshed and at it again. We are in the final stretch of the multi purpose cabinet and next time I hope to have it ready to install in the (cargo) van conversion.
A bit of super glue does wonders.
Next is the folding shelf.
Previously I messed up one of the drawer bottoms of the cabinet that I’m making for my (cargo) van conversion. First redo that, then do the top surface with access to the cooktop. After all the major parts have been put together, only the hardware, the finishing and final installation in the van remains.
I oversize the 3/8” thick panel and then remove narrow strips on each side, which are then flipped over to the bottom of the piece. This way, I’ll save a little weight on an already too heavy cabinet.
Finally each end is glued together.
The front of the cabinet top has a curve that is similar to the one at the front bottom of the cabinet. The same technique is used to establish the curve.
Take a thin piece of stock, hold it at both ends at the required depth of the curve (here I use 2 clamps for that) and pull it out to the desired point at the center.
After the plywood core, the cherry frame and the decorations, I now turn to the back panel of the cabinet. In its up-position, it covers and protects the drawers section, while in the down-position it functions as a side table when sitting outside the van, with the side doors of the cargo van conversion open. The panel will be hinged at the bottom and have sliding locks at the top.
There are multiple ways to saw and attach the edging. Using only basic tools and few clamps, I start with a cherry board, slightly larger than the longest panel edge.
After sizing and dimensioning to a thickness proud of the panel, the board is glued to the panel.
The hardwood edge should now be, just proud of the the plywood panel.
The previous process is repeated for each side of the panel.
Remaining are two side posts that will protect the panel and hide the edges of the plywood side panels.
A tight fit
Design changes inherently happen while building my projects and regularly result in an improved outcome. This time I have to settle for a diminished functionality.
Building the multi-use cabinet at the side doors of the van has been progressing without much difficulties during the last few weeks. During the same period, I have been struggling with the details of the drawers. Part of the design was for them to open both on the inside of the van, as well as on the outside with the side doors open. This complicated how to ‘lock’ the drawers for travel. The advice from one of the readers helped me settle on a bullet catch, strategically set on the side of each of the drawers.
Strict guidelines I made for myself, required a very simple, straight line and flush front face of the cabinet, void of elaborate embellishments. That limits where the drawers slides can be placed and as I found out, created an impossible design. After a lot of soul searching, I decided to limit the dual functionality of the central drawer, in order to keep the overall design intact.
This week I’ll continue the work on the foldable shelf as I concurrently prepare the wood needed for the drawers.
Fitting the cabinet in the van
As we are approaching glue-up, it’s time to check the fitting of the cabinet in the conversion van to reveal any problems or necessary adjustments.
The relative size and location are as expected and with the additional top for the cooktop, it will extend nicely above the bed. One miscalculation I made, was the bump on the step-in panel. A little scribing and removal on the bottom box will solve that.
Back to the workshop for a full glue-up and the addition of the top.
Just before glue-up, I used a 7/8” forstner bit to put a hole in the side of the top and bottom panel; a plastic irrigation pipe will be inserted as a way to guide the gas pipe or the electric cord from the cooktop to the bottom of the van.
In addition to the pipe, several pieces of ½” blocking is applied to the sides, which adds a lot of rigidness to the cabinet and creates a base for the Cherry plywood finish panels.
Most plywood connections are simple dadoes or rabbets; a little bit of ordinary wood glue will form a unbreakable link.
By dimensioning (sawing, jointing and planing) some raw Cherry lumber, I create a few 3/8” boards.
The bottom rail is fitted, the curve cut and then glued to the plywood core.
Bottom rail with its distinct curve.
Now we have finished the decorative strips, the plywood core will be next.
It will hold the drawers and sliding cooktop, while guiding electric and/or gas lines, hidden from view, to and through the floor of the van conversion. The space between the core and the sides also allows for the hinges of the folding shelf to be recessed.
The rear of the cabinet has a 3” high sub base and the front has 2 cherry feet.
Only the front of the feet is made of ½” Cherry, while the remainder is made from plywood scraps. The sides are offset to accommodate the cherry plywood.
The top and bottom are rounded on my tabletop sanding machine.
The front of the feet are installed flush with the plywood core, while the outside edge is offset.
Drawings for the multi purpose cabinet at the side doors of the van are based on a general theme, as reflected in the adjoining image. Many of the features will be incorporated in all of the remaining cabinets and closets.
The color theme is a reddish cherry with dark gray decorations. Some of the doors and fronts will have a recurring ribbed vertical spacer, with a red cherry knob at the top. The horizontal gray spacer will be used at several locations to offset the dominant red cherry. The multi-use cabinet incorporates the feet and the subtle rounding at the bottom and the top surface.
The side view shows the open front legs and the top access to the cooktop (A). Space on both sides of the drawers is sufficient to accommodate the propane gas line, that will exit through the floor to the storage tank underneath the car, that will supply the cooktop and the heater. A 110V outlet will use that same space. The cooktop is built onto a sliding shelf (B) that is convenient for outside cooking. The back of the cabinet can be lowered into a horizontal position (C), where it functions as a small side table for your lunch or dinner or simply a cool drink, when you sit outside on a hot afternoon. The cabinet is extended into the step-up cove, where it houses two small storage spaces (D). The drawers and bottom closet space are accessible both from the inside and outside (E). The latter may become a drawer, as the plans can be revised at any time.
I still have to figure out a locking mechanism for the drawers. Do you have a clever solution? Leave your idea as a comment?