08Van Build Guide

Sprinter Van Cabinets

Step by Step Guide to the DIY approach to building your Sprinter Van

 

Summary

It’s important to know, going in to your build, that installing cabinets in your van is a pretty large undertaking. Rest assured that as long as you take your time and do your research, you will definitely be able to handle it.

Personally, I had never done anything like this before. I was a bit intimidated by the entire process but as soon as I got started, things started to make sense. Before I knew it I had created some pretty sweet custom cabinets inside the van.

There will come a point where the cabinets feel like a never ending saga. With the staining, sanding, painting, more sanding, mounting, shimming, and touch up… It’s by far the most consuming part of the entire build. Don’t give up!

For thew handles on all of the cabinet in my van I used a simple handle from IKEA. I liked its simplicity and I felt that it went with my overall design for this project.

Handles
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These are the original style sliders that I used "roller sliders". Im not sure if thats what they are actually called but its what Ive been calling them. This style of drawer slides is cheaper alternative to the ball bearing style but after 3 years in the van they were starting to warp and bend and a upgrade was required.

Drawer Slide
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Originally I went with a cheaper drawer slider that didn't use ball bearings and had a roller wheel slider. But after a few years in the van I upgraded all the drawer slides to the ball bearing style and its a real game changer with the quality. The other style worked and if you are trying to save some money then I still recommend them.

Drawer Slide 2

On my upper cabinets and back becnhes I used these gas shocks to hold the cabinets up while they are open. These shocks are very well built and do an excellent job keeping the cabinets open when parked and closed while travelling. Installing these shocks does take a bit of patience to get the mounting locations corret but once they are they dont require any adjustments.

Gas Shock
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This isn't necessary but there are a few areas in the van such as the back benches that I installed soft close hinges to eliminate the possible of the door slamming shut.

Soft Close Hinge
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For me as I lived in the van for an extended period of time now latches have been something that I have played with a lot. Depending on your application these magnetic drawer latches to work quite well and give you a really clean look as they are hidden. However if you do overload the drawer and find yourself off road they can open on you. For this reason I have changed all my latches over to slam latches.

Magnetic Latch
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This is part of the project where you can really fail...If you don't take the time to properly paint your cabinets its a dead giveaway that your build was a DIY project. Ive seen so many people who rush this step and you can tell. Take your time, do mutliple coats, sanding between each coat and at the end you will leave yourself with a durable finish you can be proud of.

Paint
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In my build I liked the aesthetic of leaving a lot of the wood grain exposed as you can see with my upper cabinet faces and butcher block counters. To achieve this look I used a dark stain and then sanded smooth before applying a few coats of a clear coat.

Stain
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Anywhere in the van that I wanted to leave the wood grain exposed, I used a stain as the color treatment then applied multiple coats of clear satin or matte Varethane to give it a durable professional finish.

Clear Coat

In this project if you want to have a high quality finish you are going to need a lot of sand paper. In between every coat of paint and stain I sanded the faces down smooth before applying another coat. Also between every coat of clear they were sanded smooth before the final coat. This step is very time consuming but in the end it really gives you are finished look and feel and makes your surfaces easily cleanable.

Sand Paper
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In my build I used a ton of different sizes and lengths of screws depending on what application I was using it for.

Screw
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When I was putting up the ceiling planks I used brad nails that were about 1/2 inch to ¾ just for tacking the planks in place while the construction adhesive dried.

Brad Nails
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Any time you are doing any sort of finishing wood work such as cabinet work you should be using glue along all your joints. Wood Glue increases the overall strength of the cabinet and will help eliminate it from getting damaged as you drive down the road in your new home.

Wood Glue
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For all my cabinety in the van I used Baltic Birch plywood. The main reason I used Baltic Birch plywood is due to its strength. Baltic Birch plywood has many more layers per inch increasing its overall strength.

Baltic Birch Plywood
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The Springfield Gas Powered Table Pedestal will allow you to position your RV table at several different heights.

Table Pedestal
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Install Process

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Pro Tips

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Author

Scott Adamson

Vanlife aficionado with his rescue dog Ellie. We travel around North America in search of good times and fresh coffee.