Posted by: Steve and Bethany | January 25, 2009



Even though I haven’t installed the softwalls, I’ve decided to move to the next post, as I don’t want to install them untill all the cabinets are made, giving me plenty of light & access, should I need it, to carry in any cabinet or panel (if it doesn’t fit through the door)

I spent this past weekend working on the interior walls, man what a blast, the sides & front wall are pretty straight forward, as they’re flat planes with cutouts, pretty simple, those are all ledgered & the 1/4″ plywood is on. I’ve also locked in the vent size & locations of all the driver’s side appliances, carefully reading through all the installation manuals, (& found I needed an auxiliary fan for the fridge, as I only have the ability to vent lower & upper sidewall, no roof vent) but all those holes are ledgered around, & ready to be cut in, just before final assembly.

all interior supports & vent holes ledgered, ready for plywood

The rear wall however had been alluding me for some time as it has the spare tire & extra jerry can holders mounted in it 5″ into the interior, & I wasn’t ready to just give that 5″ up in between those items, storage is too critical,  so as much as I sketched storage options before, nothing really caught my eye, so I just sat inside the camper repeatedly, & designed the rear wall as I went. I was able to work in 3 storage compartments (the top two being open-top shelves) & introduced the first wall curve leading into the curving cabinets.

squeezing in as much storage as possible, & all wall mounting points, ready for wall panel

Now remember, I plan to remove all the panels & have veneer put on later, this tecnique allows me some flexibility in construction, as I can put screws & staples in as required for the curves, & smooth them all out & venereer over the finished surface.

kerfing the wall panel for curving

starting to install the ribs for the curve, (glued, screwed, & stapled)

puttying & sanding the screws & staples (plus, kerfing the panel causes slight kinks at each kerf, so the putty smooths out the curve)

The counters will also have a raised shelf behind for more storage, & I was able to line up all my heights to match, plus play on the curve of the spare tire. The section of the rear wall to the right (driver’s side) has its own dilemmas, because of tight storage & outside shower issues, but most of it wont show as it will be below the cabinets, I’m just trying to make as much interior space as possible.

the rear wall panel (well, the left side of it) & storage installed


Had a couple of days to concentrate on the interior, I got the right side of the rear wall built. This included mounting points for the two  emergency fuel cans on the exterior. The emergency fuel cans mount to the truck via a 1/2″ x6 1/2″ allen head bolt that screws into a threaded insert just inside the rear wall of the fuel can holder, & grabs the cans with a custom bent ‘washer’ that grabs around the handle & upper body. I also mounted an exterior shower located right below the fuel cans, but more importantly, below one of the rear receivers above, so we can screw a rod into it & hang a shower curtain if ever needed.

rear fuel cans & outside shower (also driver's side storage compartment door)

Adding to the complexity was my desire to store the interior table top in this cabinet, but with the exterior storage door at the rear of the driver’s side wall, the depth wasn’t enough, so I jogged the depth back to the driver’s side wall for the rear 4″ just enough for the table top to stow up against the inside of the rear wall & not get in the way of the rest of the cabinet (this part of the cabinets is a counter high coat hanging closet). I then removed the driver’s side wall panel to cut out the refrigerator vent holes, which I had to determine to design the refrigerator cabinet, & put ledgers around the openings, & reinstalled the wall panel.

fridge vent holes

Next was to build the bed platform. To determine the exact height, I bought a piece of diamond plate rubber that was just the right thickness to flush with the uppermost of the various pieces from the U HAUL cabover assembly, rivets & all, then scribed a line along both walls. The platform hangs between both walls, so I had to span across 7′. I like FWC ‘s design of this piece which dado’s a piece of 1/2″ plywood into a vertical  oak 1×4, but because of the logistics of installing it, I couldn’t glue the plywood into the 1x, so I still cut a dado into a (1×5 in my case), an added a 1 1/2″ aluminum angle to hold the pieces together. with just this, & the wall ledgers (also 1 1/2″ angle) the 1/2″ plywood spans fine back to the beginning of the cabover, I then have a second piece of 1/2″ plywood just resting on the rubber sheet. the rubber was chosen because it will not only solve the height issue with the uhaul parts, but it also negates any condensation from forming under the mattress or plywood, diamond plate texture gives air spaces as well.

rubber diamond plate @ cabover

front edge of bed platform

The refrigerator cabinet lifts the fridge up off the floor, gets a pantry drawer below, allows for the upper wall vent (which needs to be a bit higher than the top of the fridge rough opening), & creates a vanity cabinet on top (above the fridge rough opening, below the top of vent opening) with a top door that will flip-up with a mirror on the underside & the sink right next to it for tooth brushes etc.

fridge cabinet

The bench houses the battery, pee toilet, shoe drawer, & switches just inside the door for the roof & step operation, water pump, water heater, tank & battery gauges. The intermediate supports separate these areas, support the bench & shoe drawer glides.

bench compartment


I’m starting to feel like my two-year estimate for construction was right on, as the goal for the maiden voyage (mostly to test things & figure out what I forgot) is for a memorial day trip, & I’m starting to think that will be just about right.

This past weekend was shorter, but I continued on the smaller, finer details involving the bench. The first thing saturday morning, I cut out the top of the bench & started to lay out the pee toilet, & stare blankly at it for a while until I figured out just how to make the toilet seat & surrounding cushions work together.

starting to feel like home already!

with the cushion cover closed

Remember this isn’t a urinal (no standing up), but a ‘middle of the night- don’t want to go outside’ thing. Bethany & I don’t need all the comforts of home, (& can’t fit them all in, & keep this a nimble four-wheel vehicle), & as much as I enjoy seeing her climb up onto the counter & levitate for the middle-of-the-night pee’s, I thought up a way to get a little more convenience for her. The pee toilet is actually a small stainless sink with a 2″ drain that will drain to the ground below, same as peeing behind a tree, without the ‘going outside in the rain’ part. The trick was hiding or enclosing the toilet seat within the bench cushions. What I did was to make a wooden cover that spans across the seat when not in use, & will have 2″ of foam above it. The two side cushions will have a base of 2″ styrofoam, to build up to the same level, then the same 2″ of foam above it. The two side cushions will also have snaps on the cushion sides, as will the toilet seat cushion, acting as hinges as we lift up the cushion/ pee toilet cover. (I can scheme things like this for days!). I also cut out the shoe drawer under the bench, & glued up the hydraulic cylinder cover for this area.

The one cylinder near the door, is the only one, that is this exposed, as the other 3 are covered by the cabinets or bed, (although I may need to do something similar in the dog bed area below our bed). So I had to cover it, square wasn’t going to do it, as I didn’t like the straight lines blocking out view near the door, so I glued up a radius or half tube, but not just that, but a sloping half tube, because the lower portion of the cylinder & hydraulic fluid line stick out farther than the top,

I always wanted to make a mailbox

the hydraulic cylinder & lifting pipe, & the cover

so I maintained the same radius, as I was pinched between the door & the window, but extended the outermost radius straight back more at the bottom than the top (3 1/2″ more) I really enjoyed making this & getting it to fit just right (I tend to be cutting everything a little big, then hand sand everything to fit perfectly – mostly to milk this out as long as I can). I already had 1/4″ wiggle board for the kitchen cabinets, so I cut enough off to make this, & formed & laminated two 1/4″ ply’s together forming a rigid shape.

the cover also forms a nice edge to the bench, & starts the curving theme

the view from the outside

I plan to use brush seals at the top of the cover, to keep dust & views out, but allow the cylinder & lifting pipe to pass through


It’s interesting to see just how an idea can evolve over time, you start out with something in mind & it changes, I mean IT changes, you don’t necessarily change it. The kitchen cabinets have been this thing I hadn’t totally figured out, not a problem, as I’m really good at figuring things out as I go, but the exact detail of how to go about building them (or ‘it’) had eluded me. I didn’t want to do a face frame cabinet, as the curves were too tough to make out of a face frame, so I had resigned to do a hybrid of a flush frame, where I use curving horizontal ribs to form the curving face that is then formed with 2 layers of 1/4″ wiggle board, glues & stapled to the ribs, creating the ‘face’ that all the doors & drawer fronts would be cut from, forming both the frame & the fronts at the same time. I could laminate this with teak prior to cutting out the openings, giving me one flat grain across the whole cabinet face, doors & drawers alike – that part was cool, and about as far as I’d taken the idea, figuring I’d work it out when I build it, hence – NOW.

Cutting the doors & drawers out of the face seemed tough as I had to get straight, clean cuts, a router wouldn’t work as the face has a curving surface, plus a plunge cut router bit is about 1/2″ wide minimum – too big a gap.

I could plunge a circular saw, & clean the corners with a jig saw, but that seemed risky for grain tear-out.

I could cut them out first, clean the edges, then laminate the whole face with door & drawer fronts in place, then I’d just have to cut through the veneer, but a knife would grab onto grain & still pull off the straight lines.

I had resigned to having a bigger gap than I wanted around the doors & drawers, then trim the perimeter of the fronts making a face frame look, but would I trim with teak?, or stainless?, neither sounded good as this look seemed too boxy for what I wanted, (as there’s a lot of small doors).

last night just before I fell to sleep, I whispered the word ‘interesting’, Bethany heard me, & of course made fun of me this morning for talking in my sleep, the only thing is, I remember what I was thinking. I came down on the computer to see if the idea really solved all the problems, visually & structurally, it did, but it is more complicated than any cabinet I’ve ever built (another perfect characteristic), mostly because of its non-straight/flat shape. I’m going to have to build this piece by piece, cutting & sanding each piece to exact fit, before I move to the next piece. I wont get to see the shape, or if it really works, until all the pieces are made & put together (this week’s light in the office, so my head’s into it right now). what I’ll be making is not either a face frame or flush frame, but more of a european style frameless cabinet with all the doors & drawer fronts cut to curve from thicker chunks of wood, then all veneered at the same time, together, to get the same cross-the-cabinet continuous grain look. I’ll try to take pictures as I go.


toe base & template

cut to exact length, sanded, routered & dadoed

starts to take shape


Alright, I’ll admit it, I may have.. … lost it a little with the curves!

believe it or not, every radius, straight, & point in between is calculated

but the whole point is to challenge myself. I chose not to stop at the base cabinets, but bring even more curves above the counter height solving multiple problems (& creating a few along the way) but I’ve never considered myself a brilliant cabinet maker, so now’s the time to do it right.. .. & complicated.

I planned on a shelf above & to the rear of the counter to follow the curving front face of the counters, & at the rear of the vehicle, I had to have a shelf to cover the upper part of the fuel can holders & receiver base. The range top goes here, so I created a curvaceous shelf, big enough for storage of things like bread, spices  etc. next to, & behind the cooktop,

follows the counter face, covers the fuel can holders, covers the exterior storage on the driver's side, & hides the reciever

lining up with a curving back piece which covers the lifting pipes next to the sink, up to the point that the swoop lowers to, when the roof is down, (covering as much of the mechanism as possible).

lifting pipe cover

Another small curve, symmetrical about the sink creates a deeper area for the faucet. The tops of all the shelves & counter will be some sort of solid surface (I’m looking at various material’s weight & cost).

I also made the bed storage, which is located at the leading edge of the bed creating three storage areas, the middle one facing outward, toward the camper (I’m not sure what we’ll store in there yet) & the two on both sides facing the bed (I know exactly what we’ll store in there)! this also creates an ‘edge’ to the thickness of the mattress, that we’ll be climbing over every night.

bed storage - this will all be padded & upholsered

inside of bed storage (this will be lined too)

Next was the cabover bed area wall panels. Remember, this was a Uhaul at one point, so I had to work with the Uhaul parts (plus my custom wall cap ) to create something smooth around the perimeter, & clean for the mattress & bedding. I scribed the Uhaul corner post, then the inner radius of the wall cap & made a ledger to nail the corner curve to, then cut 1/4″ plywood to form these short walls.

my ledger for the front corners

starting to see less & less of the Uhaul panels now!

Next will be the two lifting pipe covers over the bed platform, figuring the hinges out for the bed storage, then I start below the bed platform on front wall lifting pipe covers then dressers.

I’m still having a hard time realizing that 100% of all this comes out of the bullet, for laminating. I have to be really careful labeling everything, so it goes back together exactly the same.


Still making curvy parts..  the small pieces are the lifting pipe covers above the bed platform, & the bigger piece is the mold I already made for the lifting pipe cover near the door (I kept it), I realized the radius will work for the lifting pipe covers below the bed platform as well (in the dog bed area) but I’ll slice it down the middle of the radius creating two ‘L’ shaped curving pieces, as these covers fit into a 90 degree corner. I’ve also learned the wiggle board’s minimum radius is about 3 inches, & I appear to be challenging that every time!

short covers at the bed area

couldn't wait to make a second mailbox! this one will be sliced down the middle. this cover has no frame or skeleton behind it, just the 2 layers of 1/4" wiggle board glued together forming the shape needed. we'll see if they hold the shape


got alot done yesterday.. ..

finished the bed storage compartments

bed area lifting pipes

with finished covers

I tend to live in my design world, so naturally I usually give like 1/16″ clearance on things, but in the real world, especially a moving vehicle, things can’t be that tight so I doubled my usual clearances.. .. that’s right, 1/8′!

lifting pipe when down, this should just hit the mattress

the top of all the covers will have brush seals to cover the hole & keep dust out

I’ve only used wiggle board once before, & not in this manner, there’s a pretty quick learning curve, between making the first lifting pipe cover & now, I’ve learned you really don’t need ribs, or a skeleton to mount the board to, if you create a form, & glue two pieces together tightly (you’ve gotta have a good form & clamp it tightly) it will maintain that shape permanently (& actually be really strong). this time I used no ribs, just the wiggle board, as there just wasn’t room around the lifting pipes under the bed area for.. .. anything! the linear bearing was way too close to the window to allow for anything, as it was, I had to rip the cover to 1/4″ along this edge so as not to hit the bearing mount (I’ll give a little more room on the next XV!)

holds shape just fine

trimming up & cutting in half

under the bed area (in the dog bed area) lifting pipes

dog bed area pipe covers (spoiled dogs!)

much cleaner

I think I’ll also leave the front wall cables exposed here vs. covering them. They wont be visible from the cab or camper, & I like a little of the ‘machine’ to show (you can barely see the just below the upper bed platform across the front wall)


Started the last of the cabinets – the dressers. There will be two dressers toward the front of the vehicle just under the edge of the bed, Bethany’s will be on the passenger side, permanently mounted, mine will be on the driver’s side behind the fridge, & will slide over in front of the dog bed step & access, to utilize the area behind the fridge. This dresser, when slid out, will also lock out the cab & dog bed area from the camper, providing privacy & security when needed.

having a really hard time cutting things straight!

the drawer fronts will follow the curves of the rails

Bethany's dresser built & installed


Finished my dresser, & the last of the cabinets today, perfect timing for the holiday week coming. My dresser was far more complicated than Bethany’s (even though it looks the same). This dresser slides out for use, then slides out-of-the-way when not in use, gaining me access to the awkward area behind the fridge. Even though I design with AUTOCAD, for all these cabinets, I show up with the cad drawings as little more than a reference, then sit in front of the space & measure, design, remeasure, revise, etc. all this done by hand & pencil, all the math in my head, my notes looking something like this.

All the drawers glides, as well as the dresser glides are ‘KV 8400RV’ stay-close precision drawer glides. These glides require a pull of about 13 lbs to open, then they glide as normal, there’s a spring pull assembly in the last 3″ of the gliding motion pulling them closed. Hopefully 13 lbs will be enough to keep drawers closed while off-roading, but latches can always be added. I got every dimension of each piece down to the 1/16 ” & spent alot of time on the glide’s precision & alignment before actually installing the dresser for its test run.

the dresser base

Apparently it payed off, because the dresser slid perfectly the first time no minor adjustments necessary. When closed, the dresser lined up perfectly with the edge of the dog step, & when open, the dresser lined up in X, Y & Z axis’ with Bethany’s dresser perfectly. I think I’m getting better as I get older! priding myself on the math rather than the completion.

both dressers, in the normal 'driving' position

front dressers in the 'steve needs his skivies' position

behind this dresser is a fixed rear panel, so the dog bed area is not disturbed by the movement, & when in the closed or ‘driving’ position, it looks exactly the same as the rear of Bethany’s dresser.

As of now, all the interior work is built, (except for doors & drawers, which is next) ready to be removed for veneer.


I lied again, over thanksgiving break I realized I forgot the other toiletry cab over the window. This will be similar to the one in my four wheel camper, but I’ve added some curves to smooth out the look & get deeper storage space in the center & stay out-of-the-way from Bethany’s top drawer when open @ the front end, allow for sitting back when on the bench below at the rear end, & leave room for a curtain rod below. Then I made a cardboard mock-up to make sure it all worked fine, good thing, as I’ll have to revise the pee toilet cover to stay below this cabinet when in the up position. The two doors will swing down to give access to the interior.

the curves allow for deeper storage toward the center


I did three things this weekend, preparing for veneering;

1- built the last toiletry cabinet, really enjoy making the curves, making forms is the way to go. I made a form for gluing, then cut out the top, bottom & back, cut the wiggle board, then glued & stapled the first layer to the top & bottom, then quickly spread glue on the outer layer & stretched it over the first layer then pushed the whole assembly down into the form, clamped & shimmed as necessary. Sunday, I trimmed the edges, made the doors, & mounted it in place.

toiletry cabinet form

glued & clamped, plus i had to shim some 3/16" gaps for the door hinges

done & installed

2- made a full size mock-up of some bridging ramps. This particular hot spring Bethany & I found, has many more dirt roads past it, but a small crevasse prohibits most people from crossing. This plus having ramps to help climb over rocks & logs validate their presence. I expect the bullet to weigh about 12,000 lbs, which was more than any ramps I could find, or if they could hold that, the were bigger than I needed, so I designed my own & determined the only place to store them was outside on the two side walls. The mock-up showed me they would work fine with all the storage doors & vents, so Harvest Valley Specialties is off making them, these needed to be done now, so while the walls are off I can install the threaded mounts that will lock them to the walls.

ramp mock-up in place on the wall

3- this was a good weekend to do something I’ve been slightly nervous about, changing the typical UHAUL roof clearance lights from a cheap surface mount light to UHAUL’s other style of inset light. less likely to get hit by branches etc. I purchased LED lights so I’ll be able, with the reduced wattage, to wire them directly from the tail lights.

the original surface mount lights

What I’d been fretting was cutting the holes in the aluminum- I should have done this before I put the ceiling in, so I had to be careful not to damage the interior, & more importantly, all these lights were in the corner caps, which normally can be replaced, but I’ve welded them into the wall cap assembly, so I had to get the holes right the first time. For this I used a router, & I feared the bit getting caught & taking off beyond the hole. as it was, no problems, I just went slow & cautious. I will have a little body work to fill the small rivet holes before the lights are installed.

surface light holes

the recessed hole type I needed to cut

hole cut with router bit

the hole cleaned up with a file

with the rubber gasket for the new lights

with lights popped in (& a little too much flash)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s