Tag Archives: shelf

Toilet Access Door

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.

5051Under 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.

52While 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.

Continue reading Toilet Access Door


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.


68Next, two little wood blocks were needed, to support the screws of the face plate. Each of them is pre-drilled to hold the screw.


69And then glued in place with some ordinary wood glue.


70The included wires are easily attached.


71The job is finished by adding the two screws to the face plate.


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.


Multi-Use Cabinet (8)

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.

123Meanwhile, to prevent any noise made by the cooktop cover while driving, two rare earth magnets are installed and covered by a thin wood plug.


A bit of super glue does wonders.

Next is the folding shelf.

122125It’s attached with a piano hinge at the bottom and two bolts at the top. The open space above is the second access to the cooktop.


126Time for some paint work. The maple top and the two vertical decorations got three layers of paint. The gray color should contrast the reddish finish of the cherry cabinet.


134133The top is attached to the cabinet with 4 screwed in blocks.


127At the same time, both side panels are fitted and temporarily installed. With those panels installed, the electrical outlet follows. I use the scroll saw to cut out the hole.


128129And finish it off with the outlet and plate.


130131To change the very solid look of both sides and to accentuate the airy feel of the two front legs, the legs are cut out and the opening finished with a downward curve.





Multi-Use Cabinet (7)

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.

9697The drawers are done but now we’re approaching the end of this mini-project, I still had to fit the sub-cabinet box to the step-up area in the van.


Shelf Hinges


98Another small job is the installation of the shelf side hinges. A recessed space has to be created on both sides of the shelf/door.


99100With a straight router bit, I take three passes to get to the depth of the recess. The Cherry side panel is wide enough to act as a stable base, while using its side as a guide for the router.


101A screw hole is pre-drilled and some wax is applied to the screw to ease it into the wood.

102The hinges are now ready for the shelf.


 Cabinet Top


103The top of the cabinet needs to have an access to the cooktop during interior use. A 14” x 14” maple square will be attached with a piano hinge to a Cherry frame.

104I 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.

Then again lots of sanding to get everything flat and straight.


106The Cherry frame around the lid has two boards on the sides and a long board in the rear.
They will be held together with the help of a sliding tenon.


107108Both ends receive a mortise, made with a stationary router.


109110Then a loose tenon is made out of the same material with the corners rounded to conform to the router made mortise.



Finally each end is glued together.

112The lid and a temporary brace are used for final adjustments to the frame during glue-up. Let it all dry overnight to obtain a good bond.


113The next morning the sides are trimmed and sanded. The piano hinge is temporarily attached so its thickness is accounted for when establishing the front curve of the cabinet top.

114At the same time a 2” high overhang is glued to the front of the lid. It functions as the lid handle and is part of that front curve.

115The 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.

116117Draw a line and cut the curve on the bandsaw. It’ll need some sanding to bring it to a graceful curve.


120121The cabinet is now close to its final form and shape.



The simple, gentle curves complement the overall design of the cabinet.


Multi-Use Cabinet (4)


Back Panel

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.


First I cover a plywood sheet with cherry ply to form the core of the panel. Next is the edging; for durability, I choose a 1/8” cherry strip.
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.


5051The rigidness of the board ensures a good distribution of pressure, which limits the need of additional clamps.


A few hours later we’re ready to cut the edging to its appropriate width.


The hardwood edge should now be, just proud of the the plywood panel.

With a careful use of a block plane, most of the protruding edge is removed.

A scraper, followed by a light sanding finish the job.

Both ends are now cut flush.

This durable hardwood edge will stand up to more abuse than any iron-on edge banding.


The previous process is repeated for each side of the panel.

The finished panel now covers the rear opening of the cabinet.



Remaining are two side posts that will protect the panel and hide the edges of the plywood side panels.


A tight fit


Design Changes

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.




Multi-Use Cabinet (3)


Fitting the cabinet in the van

3738The RV’s cabinet overhangs the step-in area at the side doors. A simple box with a Cherry front will fill that in. The extension at the top of the will cover the end of the core bottom panel.


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.


Cherry frame

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.


Multi-Use Cabinet (2)

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.

20The base core consists of four ½” plywood panels, connected to each other through ¼” deep dadoes.



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.


25Next the sub base, which holds a ‘hidden’ compartment. Composed of three plywood sides, they are again held together with simple dadoes and rabbets.

26The rectangular box has one ledge, extending towards the rear of the cabinet. The folding shelf will be attached to it with a piano hinge.

27A simple opening with cover under the bottom drawer will give access to this ‘hidden’ storage area, which is also used to attach the cabinet to the floor of the van.


2829First the opening is routed out with a straight bit. Followed by routing the edge with a rabbet bit.


3132The cover is made out of another piece of plywood, sized to the larger opening. When the corners are rounded and the piece snuggly fits the opening, it is routed with the same rabbet bit.



Multi-Use Cabinet Drawings

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.

12Clicking the image on the left shows the cabinet drawings at the side door. On the back the cabinet is extended downward into the step-up cove.



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?