• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Cladding Back Of Van With Hardwood?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

SDRChris

New member
Joined
30 Jul 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
1
Location
Bedfordshire
Hi,
Think this might be my first post even though I often scroll through various posts looking for help and advice on all things woodwork. However, I've got a question that I've not found an answer to yet and could do with some help/advice on it.

I'm in the middle of converting a van for use as a coffee van (not the sort that goes around business parks, more the sort hipsters love). It incorporates a 'bulkhead' about halfway so the rear section is customer facing and the other half towards the cab is systems/storage.

The big question I have is, how would be best to clad the customer facing rear bulkhead/walls & ceiling? Ideally I want to use hardwood for aesthetic purposes; walnut or a slightly lighter hardwood perhaps. I had thought of using PAR strips but I don't want to edge join lots of strips and I'm unsure how to account for expansion in hardwood in this scenario?

I had planned on lining the walls, bulkhead and ceiling with 6/9mm ply first which any cladding could then be attached to. The whole area is no more than 2-3m sq.

Would appreciate any ideas or thoughts on this as it's the only real sticking point I've come to with the project (I've fitted out a barge from scratch and done various woodwork bits at home so I'm fairly comfortable with woodwork overall). Happy to supply more info/pics if it might help.


TIA,
Chris
 

Jameshow

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2020
Messages
1,234
Reaction score
563
Location
Bradford
How about gluing them on with black silkaflex with a tile spacer in-between?

Rather like a miniature teak deck off a yacht?

Cheers James
 

Trainee neophyte

[Known Putin apologist ]
Joined
12 Apr 2019
Messages
2,761
Reaction score
622
Location
Greece
What is your max weight limit? This will govern the design more than anything. Make sure you have enough weight allowance left over to still have the coffee machine, water (hugely heavy and bulky stuff, water) and anything else you need.

I would be thinking about thin ply rather than heavy hardwood.
 

Droogs

Is that chisel shar ... Ow
Joined
14 Mar 2013
Messages
4,582
Reaction score
1,497
Location
Edinburgh
6mm ply faced with a veneer of the wood of your choice. get yourself as big a one of these:

1627336607291.png



They are called profile gauges as you can to get an accurate outline on the inside of the van and cut out a 6mm board to shape.Then once in place you can glue on small strips of wood to give a panel effect etc. That is the best way to keep the weight down as this will be critical in getting it passed the mot. If the van has a metal partition panel you could actually glue the veneer to that instead

hth
 

Ollie78

Established Member
Joined
4 Aug 2011
Messages
837
Reaction score
310
Location
Wiltshire
As mentionned above, weight is an issue. It is surprisingly easy to be overweight.
Some large 3.5t vans only have a load capacity of 900kg, interestingly the short wheelbase Sprinter with low roof has the highest load capacity in the range by quite a bit (not including the 5t variants).

I know there are special lightweight veneered panels and stuff designed for camper conversions and stuff like that. Look into a specialist panel product supplier. Like these guys Morland UK Shop Morland Lightweight Furniture Ply - The UK's largest online supplier of Laminates, Laminated Panels and Vehicle Conversion Products


Ollie
 

SDRChris

New member
Joined
30 Jul 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
1
Location
Bedfordshire
Veneered ply, cut fake joint lines into it.
Not a bad shout but I'm not sure how good it will look up close. Would definitely keep weight down though.


How about gluing them on with black silkaflex with a tile spacer in-between?

Rather like a miniature teak deck off a yacht?

Cheers James
This is along the lines of what I was thinking. Something like some thin (<10mm thick) planks of hardwood attached to the ply.
Doesn't seem a huge amount of choice of thin PAR lengths though, from looking online anyway.



What is your max weight limit? This will govern the design more than anything. Make sure you have enough weight allowance left over to still have the coffee machine, water (hugely heavy and bulky stuff, water) and anything else you need.

I would be thinking about thin ply rather than heavy hardwood.
Great point on weight and something I've been keeping an eye on. Van has a maximum payload of 898kg. I've got ~240kg to play with for this hardwood cladding, lining and ceiling. And yes, I've taken into account driver & passenger weights :D


6mm ply faced with a veneer of the wood of your choice. get yourself as big a one of these:

View attachment 114732


They are called profile gauges as you can to get an accurate outline on the inside of the van and cut out a 6mm board to shape.Then once in place you can glue on small strips of wood to give a panel effect etc. That is the best way to keep the weight down as this will be critical in getting it passed the mot. If the van has a metal partition panel you could actually glue the veneer to that instead

hth
Ah, had seen profile gauges a while ago and thought it was a great idea... then forgot to order one and went back to using cardboard templating which is not very accurate and time consuming. Time to order a gauge.
Unfortunately the van has no metal partition/bulkhead otherwise that would be a quick solution to fit straight to that!
When you say "small strips of wood", do you mean small thin strips of hardwood veneer? Something around 3mm thick for example?

As mentionned above, weight is an issue. It is surprisingly easy to be overweight.
Some large 3.5t vans only have a load capacity of 900kg, interestingly the short wheelbase Sprinter with low roof has the highest load capacity in the range by quite a bit (not including the 5t variants).

I know there are special lightweight veneered panels and stuff designed for camper conversions and stuff like that. Look into a specialist panel product supplier. Like these guys Morland UK Shop Morland Lightweight Furniture Ply - The UK's largest online supplier of Laminates, Laminated Panels and Vehicle Conversion Products


Ollie
I did actually read some statistic that said in a year of VOSA checking vans they found 89% were overweight so it's definitely something I'll need to keep a close eye on.
Those panels look quite interesting, thanks for the link. Seem pretty expensive though and I'm really angling for real hardwood as opposed to laminate purely for aesthetic reasons.

Thanks all for the advice so far, appreciate it!

Chris
 

Droogs

Is that chisel shar ... Ow
Joined
14 Mar 2013
Messages
4,582
Reaction score
1,497
Location
Edinburgh
Yes - just to give a frame and panel look to the partition, This kinda thing

1627384002643.png



Makes it look far more substantial than it actually is
 

John Brown

Social media influenza
Joined
25 Sep 2008
Messages
2,087
Reaction score
296
Location
Stinchcombe, Gloucestershire
6mm ply faced with a veneer of the wood of your choice. get yourself as big a one of these:

View attachment 114732


They are called profile gauges as you can to get an accurate outline on the inside of the van and cut out a 6mm board to shape.Then once in place you can glue on small strips of wood to give a panel effect etc. That is the best way to keep the weight down as this will be critical in getting it passed the mot. If the van has a metal partition panel you could actually glue the veneer to that instead

hth
Or make yourself a ticking stick. Plenty of info if you go ogle.
 

Inspector

Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck!
Joined
18 Jun 2006
Messages
2,492
Reaction score
634
Location
Saskatoon, SK., Canada
If you are going to put 6 to 9mm plywood on first why don't you use an nice veneered sheet to begin with and skip the second layer? You'll just have to be neat installing it and since you have done a barge before that shouldn't be an issue.

Pete
 

Richard_C

Established Member
Joined
17 Oct 2019
Messages
565
Reaction score
242
Location
Cambridge
My first thought was weight but that has been discussed. It's not just VoSA rules though, you want to keep weight down if you can to limit wear and tear and fuel consumption.

I can understand the desire to do a good job, but if this is serious commercial venture rather than a hobby, how much difference will top quality hardwood make to the number of coffees you sell? How long might you keep this particular van? Spending £££ on something you might change in 12 months or so isn't going to give a good return. Maybe something far easier and cheaper to begin with - I might think of basic grade ply then wallpaper, or as Inspector says veneered ply. Maybe even wallpaper with interesting newspaper headlines/magazine covers etc. Think of the customer queuing for a few minutes, give them something to read and point at. Sustainable and recycled, a good message for 'hipsters' as you put it. See how well that does with the inevitable knocks, spillages, steam/moisture and wear you will inevitably get making coffee in small space. You can always re-clad if its goes well. Plus any change is an opportunity to advertise on social media - hey come see our refurbished and relaunched van. The other question is what will the customers see. If they are standing on the ground outside the back of the van they will only see above counter height.

There are some good answers here on the 'how' - but first ask yourself 'why' and what will it do for the business.
 

SDRChris

New member
Joined
30 Jul 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
1
Location
Bedfordshire
Yes - just to give a frame and panel look to the partition, This kinda thing

Makes it look far more substantial than it actually is
Gotcha. Not the exact look I have in my mind but I see what you're getting at.

Or make yourself a ticking stick. Plenty of info if you go ogle.
After watching a youtube video on what a ticking stick is/how to use it, it looks very useful. One of those things I could've definitely used a lot before now, haha.

If you are going to put 6 to 9mm plywood on first why don't you use an nice veneered sheet to begin with and skip the second layer? You'll just have to be neat installing it and since you have done a barge before that shouldn't be an issue.

Pete
Valid point. I've been looking at some of the oak veneered plywood available from my local timber supplier and it's definitely becoming an option. Could easily stain it quite dark too.
Installing it neat you say... When doing the barge, trim pieces covered a multitude of slightly wonky panel cuts/joins :LOL:. Didn't have a track saw back then or much skill with scribing, mind.

My first thought was weight but that has been discussed. It's not just VoSA rules though, you want to keep weight down if you can to limit wear and tear and fuel consumption.

I can understand the desire to do a good job, but if this is serious commercial venture rather than a hobby, how much difference will top quality hardwood make to the number of coffees you sell? How long might you keep this particular van? Spending £££ on something you might change in 12 months or so isn't going to give a good return. Maybe something far easier and cheaper to begin with - I might think of basic grade ply then wallpaper, or as Inspector says veneered ply. Maybe even wallpaper with interesting newspaper headlines/magazine covers etc. Think of the customer queuing for a few minutes, give them something to read and point at. Sustainable and recycled, a good message for 'hipsters' as you put it. See how well that does with the inevitable knocks, spillages, steam/moisture and wear you will inevitably get making coffee in small space. You can always re-clad if its goes well. Plus any change is an opportunity to advertise on social media - hey come see our refurbished and relaunched van. The other question is what will the customers see. If they are standing on the ground outside the back of the van they will only see above counter height.

There are some good answers here on the 'how' - but first ask yourself 'why' and what will it do for the business.
Thanks Richard, a good point on wear & tear and fuel consumption. And thanks for the other thought provoking bits. I'm coming round to the idea of using veneered ply instead of hardwood panelling - I think you might be right about that being more for me than the customers. The way the van will work will be serving out from the barn doors at the back so there will be a fair amount of the inside visible. I do like the idea of the doing a re-clad at a later date as refurbish/relaunch too.
As you said too, if I end up changing it/selling it in the near future, keeping costs down where I can is a valid point.

Thanks for the ideas again - definitely got me thinking about some alternatives.

Chris
 

NormanB

Established Member
Joined
11 Nov 2019
Messages
139
Reaction score
98
Location
Waterlooville
Hi,
Think this might be my first post even though I often scroll through various posts looking for help and advice on all things woodwork. However, I've got a question that I've not found an answer to yet and could do with some help/advice on it.

I'm in the middle of converting a van for use as a coffee van (not the sort that goes around business parks, more the sort hipsters love). It incorporates a 'bulkhead' about halfway so the rear section is customer facing and the other half towards the cab is systems/storage.

The big question I have is, how would be best to clad the customer facing rear bulkhead/walls & ceiling? Ideally I want to use hardwood for aesthetic purposes; walnut or a slightly lighter hardwood perhaps. I had thought of using PAR strips but I don't want to edge join lots of strips and I'm unsure how to account for expansion in hardwood in this scenario?

I had planned on lining the walls, bulkhead and ceiling with 6/9mm ply first which any cladding could then be attached to. The whole area is no more than 2-3m sq.

Would appreciate any ideas or thoughts on this as it's the only real sticking point I've come to with the project (I've fitted out a barge from scratch and done various woodwork bits at home so I'm fairly comfortable with woodwork overall). Happy to supply more info/pics if it might help.


TIA,
Chris
Well you have to consider aesthetics, serviceability, weight as well as price which is a real issue at the moment. There are pre-finished lightweight panels used in the motorhome conversion industry would probably balance up your requirements. Search on YT for Greg Virgoe he did a seminal series of videos on converting a sprinter for live in extended touring.

The lightweight plywood is sold here:Morland UK Shop Morland - Lightweight vehicle conversion materials ideal for campervans, motorhomes, narrowboats & yachts. - The UK's largest online supplier of Laminates, Laminated Panels and Vehicle Conversion Products

The full build by Greg Virgo is here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLhAyWhGGbi6JLJBHePgsmR-jSbyC_RgO
 
Last edited:

MARK.B.

Established Member
Joined
4 Jul 2012
Messages
1,406
Reaction score
389
Location
East Yorkshire
While some of your hipster coffee drinking customers may be wood workers with a keen eye may spot that your van is not clad in genuine hardwood panels, most if not all of them won't really care one way or another .It is the product you are selling and while a smart and tidy van is important , its the product you sell that will make your venture a success or not , they won't come back if your coffee is like muddy ditch water not because you used the wrong interior trim.
 

SDRChris

New member
Joined
30 Jul 2020
Messages
4
Reaction score
1
Location
Bedfordshire
Would be good to see some pictures of your van Chris :)
We'll see how it goes before posting some pictures, haha.

Well you have to consider aesthetics, serviceability, weight as well as price which is a real issue at the moment. There are pre-finished lightweight panels used in the motorhome conversion industry would probably balance up your requirements. Search on YT for Greg Virgoe he did a seminal series of videos on converting a sprinter for live in extended touring.

The lightweight plywood is sold here:Morland UK Shop Morland - Lightweight vehicle conversion materials ideal for campervans, motorhomes, narrowboats & yachts. - The UK's largest online supplier of Laminates, Laminated Panels and Vehicle Conversion Products

The full build by Greg Virgo is here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLhAyWhGGbi6JLJBHePgsmR-jSbyC_RgO
Thanks for the links - The Greg Virgo stuff is useful/interesting!
As for the Morland stuff, someone else posted that link above and from what I can see, the weight difference isn't massive between a normal ply sheet and their sheets? Unless I'm missing something? Also, I don't really like the fact their sheets are laminate, not real wood veneer - it would be useful for real wood so I can apply a stain etc.

While some of your hipster coffee drinking customers may be wood workers with a keen eye may spot that your van is not clad in genuine hardwood panels, most if not all of them won't really care one way or another .It is the product you are selling and while a smart and tidy van is important , its the product you sell that will make your venture a success or not , they won't come back if your coffee is like muddy ditch water not because you used the wrong interior trim.
No fear there; my interest in making good coffee came before doing a van to serve it. I'm not sure I'd be doing it if it was the other way round!

Cheers!
 

clogs

just can't decide
Joined
24 Jul 2020
Messages
925
Reaction score
452
Location
Vamos, Crete, GREECE.......
nobody has mentioned what the food police will want to see.....
anything to do with food/drinks has to be cleaned well, wood just wont make it.....
why do you think mobile sandwich vans are mostly stainless steel.....
 
Top