Construction techniques for van cabinetry

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RobTy

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Your conversion sounds fantastic and what I would probably aim for for myself. In this case it’s for my daughter and I have be allocated the entire bank holiday weekend to start and finish it.
It’s down to availability, choice of finish, available accessories (like corner channels, t edge, etc), ability to pocket hole and not needing an internal frame. One and a half boards is not going to be an issue for weight as I have removed the old unit which was built from 18mm ply. Having also removed the seats I’m going to be lighter overall.
Fair enough ofc, it'll work but i reckon is gonna be real overkill for a little bongo. If I was doing it in a rush for someone else Id probably use 9 or 12mm ply with corner blocks, especially in a small van like a bongo.

Make the cabinets, scribe to fit, bolt into double skinned metal (and floor too if you can) with some decent L brackets & rivnuts.

Put a decent worktop on it and itll still look nice.
 

Jameshow

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Your conversion sounds fantastic and what I would probably aim for for myself. In this case it’s for my daughter and I have be allocated the entire bank holiday weekend to start and finish it.
It’s down to availability, choice of finish, available accessories (like corner channels, t edge, etc), ability to pocket hole and not needing an internal frame. One and a half boards is not going to be an issue for weight as I have removed the old unit which was built from 18mm ply. Having also removed the seats I’m going to be lighter overall.
Better get a move on!

Pictures or it didn't happen!!

What tools do you need?

I used a jigsaw and a cordless drill, a handheld router wold be useful if doing T trim.
 

paulrbarnard

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Better get a move on!

Pictures or it didn't happen!!

What tools do you need?

I used a jigsaw and a cordless drill, a handheld router wold be useful if doing T trim.

Unfortunately I’m mainly a hand tool guy. I do have a set of dewalt cordless, pretty much a full set 🙄, that I use for round the house projects so that is going to be the main tools I’ll use. I did snag a FTAGH router a while back so that is going to be a big help. The only thing I think I might be missing is a track saw. I don’t have a table saw and the 18V cordless is not the most accurate of tools. A finer blade might help. Just been checking out eBay to see what’s available on the track saw front.

I’m going to have to get a pocket hole jig or else look at using angle brackets. I think the pocket holes will make for a tighter case.

The son in law has already made a start. He has cut the floor to fit and will glue it in tomorrow then get the vinyl tiles down.
 

Jameshow

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Unfortunately I’m mainly a hand tool guy. I do have a set of dewalt cordless, pretty much a full set 🙄, that I use for round the house projects so that is going to be the main tools I’ll use. I did snag a FTAGH router a while back so that is going to be a big help. The only thing I think I might be missing is a track saw. I don’t have a table saw and the 18V cordless is not the most accurate of tools. A finer blade might help. Just been checking out eBay to see what’s available on the track saw front.

I’m going to have to get a pocket hole jig or else look at using angle brackets. I think the pocket holes will make for a tighter case.

The son in law has already made a start. He has cut the floor to fit and will glue it in tomorrow then get the vinyl tiles down.
A straight edge would help or two lengths of alu L section held together to make a track...
 

Valhalla

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Check out www.t4forum.co.uk - covers all vans to T6 - excellent site and plenty of help

Here's a couple of images of my van....ash and ash veneered 1/2" ply
 

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cerro

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I know little of the Bongo but love the name. "We motored to the coast in the Rover" sounds serious, "We went to the beach in the Bongo" sounds like a cheerful outing.

I had an aircoooled T2 VW back in the late 70's when you could buy second hand for next to nothing, panorama screen high indicator, early 1600 cc twin port for the enthusisats out there. It was a proper Devon conversion with pop top, and most of the furniture was softwood framed with fairly thin ply over: I don't recall the details. It was sturdy enough. I did a couple of mods, cupboard for the crampons and ice axes, and there is a tendency to 'over-build'. We like things to look and be sturdy, but weight is the enemy.

Somewhere (perhaps in the registration document or handbook, perhaps a plate rivetted on a door pillar) will be the unladen weight and the permittted maximum gross vehicle weight. The ULW may be fully fitted if its a factory conversion but may well be bare chassis/body without the rising roof. Somwhere between ULW and GVW youi need to allow for people, petrol, maybe extrat battery, stuff and things, leisure stuff if you take bikes etc, water maybe, and the furniture. Aside from the obvious advantage of keeping it light there is that technical constraint and often there is not much scope in that ULW/GVW gap. You might need to compromise your high standards of woodworking and focus more on the weight.

I also wonder (but you can't calculate for any of this) if "light and weak" is helpful in an accident. Imagine a tail end shunt, the vehicle does its proper progressive crumple, it might be better if the big horizontal sheet of timber in the back also breaks rather than gets pushed forward to damage the occupants or ends up flying about around the occupants.

You may know about tyres, there are the usual width/profile/diameter/speed rating numbers: 215/55 17 W. They are follwed by load ratings, typically 91 or similar. Higher number = higher load rating. If you go up you might get a slightly harsher ride - I've never noticed it - but no other downsides to my knowledge. Because camper vans are carrying most of their weight most of the time, if tyres ever need replacing make sure the load rating is the same or higher that what is on now.

There is a company called Bilbo, been around for aeons, who do conversions designed so you can take bits or modules out to use the van as a van: might be worth a look around their website for ideas.
So you are a mountaineer Richard you will reconise my user name, Cerro Torre ring a bell
 

dickm

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If you want a cautionary tale about camper vans, read "Borderless Collie" by Tamsin Morris. It involves a home conversion of a rackety 1.6 turbodiesel T25, a collie cross lab and some 10000 miles from Scotland via Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, and ultimately a farm job in Spain.
 

Dabop

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Must be a different van lol- when you talk about a 'Bongo van' here in Australia- it isn't something you would think of as being a suitable camping vehicle...
Unless your name is Dopey, Sleepy, Grumpy or the like...
;-)
They were TINY vans...

 

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paulrbarnard

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Must be a different van lol- when you talk about a 'Bongo van' here in Australia- it isn't something you would think of as being a suitable camping vehicle...
Unless your name is Dopey, Sleepy, Grumpy or the like...
;-)
They were TINY vans...

Size is relative 😀 those are the vehicles in question, though the later models.
 

paulrbarnard

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Update: SHMBO has mandated that no new material is to be bought for the project…. I’m going to have to make do with what I can find in my lockup, my Dads shed and Facebook recycled stuff.

What with daughter setting stupid time constraints and wife setting unrealistic budget constraints this is going to be far less fun than anticipated.

I will post pictures but I suspect they will be practical rather than pretty. It’s going to play havoc with my OCD.
 

Tris

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Might be worth putting a wanted post on Freecycle/freegle/trash nothing and see what's about. Reckon you might find a few campervan selfbuilders round Glastonbury with spare stuff
 

Jameshow

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What about anyone with any donations..

I have some oak offcuts!!

Or some spalted ash!!
 

paulrbarnard

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Getting some rational movement. Seems I can buy material to replace what’s there but not yet…. There is a ‘vacation’ deadline which I wasn’t told about. I’m now able to schedule this in for after the vacation and do a proper job. This holiday weekend is going to be a bodge it together so it doesn’t kill the kids when they are away. Feeling a bit more positive about it now. I was feeling like I was on one of those TV ‘craft’ shows where they set unrealistic time lines and restrictions.
 

Dabop

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Size is relative 😀 those are the vehicles in question, though the later models.
📆 Camping in a Ford Escort sized van is.... um... ambitious....
I couldn't even lie down in one LOL
Cute but they would have one big (lol) advantage- get bogged, two people can lift it up and carry it out LOL
:-O
 

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Hornbeam

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Lightweight poplar ply with formica facing is significantly lighter than standard ply and is the industry standard material Check out moorland panels but will also be some one nearer you. Joints are just plastic corner blocks. There are ranges of standard knock on edging which you need to use a 2mm groover to fit. Cutting doors can be done using a template and a router with a 6mm cutter and a guide bush, The cut out piece forms the door The 6mm gap from the cutter is effectively filled by the knock on edging
 

Jameshow

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Lightweight poplar ply with formica facing is significantly lighter than standard ply and is the industry standard material Check out moorland panels but will also be some one nearer you. Joints are just plastic corner blocks. There are ranges of standard knock on edging which you need to use a 2mm groover to fit. Cutting doors can be done using a template and a router with a 6mm cutter and a guide bush, The cut out piece forms the door The 6mm gap from the cutter is effectively filled by the knock on edging
Or just use pallet wood!🤣🤣🤣
 
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