This is how I added a curve to the top of the multi-use cabinet.
Assembly and Finishing
Now that all the parts are ready, it’s time to glue and clamp everything together.
After a couple of hours drying time, the rack gets a final sanding.
A quarter is used to indicate the corners at the top of the two side panels. They are sanded off on a edge sander.
After working on it for some time, I decided not to attach the pencil holder.
The final step is the finishing. First remove the dust with some pressurized air.
The rack is flooded with some tung oil which is allowed to penetrate the wood. After a few minutes the excess is removed with a paper towel.
The next day the rack is sanded again with 400 or 500 grit sandpaper.
Two or three layers of shellac are applied to the surface, each with a sanding in between.
After the final layer of shellac it gets a light sanding with 0000 steel wool. Followed with a good coat of furniture wax.
Utilizing every available space is a priority; the area to the right of the rear side window is large enough to accommodate a magazine rack and is conveniently close to the bed. This will allow for some late night reading. Back to the workshop for some woodworking!
The main wood choice is again Cherry in combination with some Tiger Maple as a front panel.
After dimensioning and sizing the lumber, everything must be put together, including two extra pieces which are added to the side to act as a pen/pencil holder.
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.
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.
The back panel is finished, the hardware is ordered; in the meantime my attention shifts to the drawer construction. Rails are installed and drawer panels put together.
Wooden rails will support all the drawers. To minimize wear I’ll use hard maple strips for the bottom drawer to ride on.
Next a few pieces of plywood make two filler inserts, one on each side of the narrower top drawers. These are attached with a dado to a wide hard maple rail that supports both the bottom and center drawer.
They are left to dry overnight.
At the front, the inserts will be finished off with the ‘ribbed’ decorations that I made at the start of this phase of the project. That has to wait until after some sanding and painting is done.
The drawers consist of hard maple sides and rear, dadoed to a cherry front panel. The height of the bottom drawer forced me to glue 2 boards together. By bookmatching them, they make nice, though hidden, statement.
All parts of the drawer are individually fitted to the cabinet. The width of each side piece is carefully adjusted, so it snugly fits between the upper and lower rails.
Complicating things is the requirement for the drawer to extend both at the front as the rear of the cabinet.
Next is the front panel. It is cut and planed to a size where it tightly fits the drawer opening; later on this will be fine-tuned to its final dimensions.
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
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.