Seat/Bed Build

Gradually, things are coming together. It’s take a while to start and finish building the rest of my campervan furniture but my determination (and the necessity) to finish by the Christmas holidays is paying off. Today it’s raining quite hard, and this is forecast to last all day, so I can finish off the last bits before trying to install everything tomorrow.

I started with the most difficult unit, the one for the portable toilet, as this is going to determine the measurements for this and the other two units. I bought the smallest portable toilet I could find without losing any of the comforts of having a self contained unit and have to build the first seat around it.

First of all I built a fairly generic box using a similar technique to that I used for the cupboards. I used 34mm x 34mm pine for the uprights. Finding nice straight pieces of wood was a real struggle. You woulnd’t believe some of the wood I checked and how bent and crooked it was… Anyway, I then used 9mm ply for the bottom and 3.6mm plywood for the sides to which I fixed grips of 9mm plywood, making it nice and flush with the wooden uprights.

I debated long and hard on what to do with the front and back, and with the portable toilet etc… but space in the van, without being allowed to build anything in for the time being, meant that the toilet could only slide in and out sideways, which isn’t a problem. When I tried to have it in the van loose it didn’t move much at all, so that gives me confidence that for the time being at least, fixing it down somehow is not absolutely a priority. I decided to leave the back and front open for the time being and I’m going to fix none-slip material to the bottom in time, after testing this out, to profide some solution. I’m probably going to put something flexible, like a small curtain, to the front… we’ll see. I have time enough to do this by spring.

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For the top I went to Ikea to buy Luröy bed slats. I opted for the ‘standard king’ option as this would give me enough slats to double up and it would be most economical when it comes to cut offs – cost. I cut these to size and attached them to the top so the seat can slide out to give me enough width to make it into a bed. I didn’t have to worry about accessibility – eg.: a top that opens up – as it’s only going to house the portable toilet etc… I left a 2 cm gap between the slats apart from the outer ones to give the top horizontal rigidity when extended. I was a bit worried about the stability of the two legs that slide out so attached a bit of plywood to the bottom, which fits in nicely with the plywood bottom of the cupboard that’s already there.

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Then I finished off to give the front extra rigidity and stability. Overall, I’m pleased with the result.

I then started building two more identical seats for general storage. One of these will normally house my duvet, pillows and other bedding when I go away for more than one day I guess. The basis of this build is no different to that of the portable toilet unit, but I fixed a front to this after trying to find the best solution – front-loading or top-loading. I opted for top loading (which I may or may not regret later) which made the construction a bit more challenging. I didn’t want an open front as with the toilet unit as this will make it look messy. Curtains are no good either and putting doors on the front will take up space and could make it difficult as it is to give me enough space to make it functional and practical. So… top loader it is.

I bought some cranked hinges for this purpose. I initially went to Homebase, which is where I bought the hinges for the cupboards, only to find out the store was virtually empty! I had completely overlooked the ‘store closing’ signs when I walked in and was astonished to find it so empty. Another store gone… how sad. I hope staff find a good next job. I think The Range is taking over the premises, so that’s better than it standing empty, like Maplins is at the moment. Anyway, after trotting off to B&Q I found similar hinges there, albeit a bit more expensive. I would normally buy these at Screwfix but they don’t have any I can use.

Basic construction wasn’t too challenging as it mirrored what I had done for the portable toilet unit. I used pine skirting board for some of the finishing as i found out the quality of this was generally much better than normal planed wood and it offered a nicer finish as well.

Planning the rest took a bit more effort and after making some small mistakes which were easily rectified without too much hassle or damage, one is finished and the second is close to being finished. I hope to finish today. I have to make one small adjustment to both because I feel the extendable legs are a bit too wobbly. I’ll hopefully do that today as well.

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Next step: campervan installation, though that should be ‘removable installation’. I hope this is going to be fairly straightforward with my experience of installing the cupboards. On that note, I need to turn those around to the other side because I found out that on the near side, head room is at a premium because of a ‘bulge’ in the ceiling of the van, fortunately on one side only, to house part of the seat belt assembly for the rear seats, which I can’t remove for the time being.