Rethinking the Van Design Part 13 – Panelling the Bed


One of the many things that bugged me about the previous rush job was the lack of any real finishing in the van. We had reasonable living space and good facilities but it always felt unfinished. Furthermore our under-bed storage was a nightmare because we had to use a ratchet strap to hold our plastic tubs of joy in place or suffer the ignominy of noisy, slidey cargo and that’s no fun when you’re driving up a windy mountain road.

I remembered one of the first vans we looked at; a lovely old green Mercedes which was styled beautifully inside. They had a raised bed with storage underneath and the front end was panelled, separating the rear boot area from the living space.

That image haunted me every day in Denny mk. 1, so while on the case this time I factored in a tidy panel with a gate that would give us access to our cargo boxes and additional storage.

I happened upon some 18mm flooring beams while purchasing some hardboard to line the ceiling with and I instantly thought of about 20 different applications for the stuff. So I bought 50 linear metres of it and drove off buzzing with excitement.

The flooring is basically 18mm timber with a tongue and groove arrangement meaning it slots together nicely and makes life easier.

I spent some time measuring up the pieces then set to work with my trusty Makita jigsaw, allowing for the slightly uneven floor which warped in the heat of the Spanish summer. I needed 10 strips in all to cover the area so I cut them and made the three panels; two for the fixed ends and one for the gate.


The gate panel laid flat while the PVA glue sets. Apologies for the poor picture quality but it was dark and I hate flash photography.


I glued the grooves and slotted them together, ensuring they were perfectly aligned, then placed them on a flat surface to dry while I set about adding the extra frame work to fix them too. I employed more of the 45mm sq timber for that job and used the same method as with building the bed frame (click here to read about that).

With the frame set I fitted the first panel, screwed it in place and then lined up the gate. I bought two big hinges, a handle and a latch to padlock it shut. With the hinges screwed in place I then fixed the gate in place and joined the other side of the hinges to the frame. The final piece was the other end which fixed in easily and effortlessly.

I then measured (in my usual anally retentive fashion) the position for the handle and the latch, drilled the holes, screwed them in and then marvelled at the neat finish I’d achieved.

The gate had a bit of an issue closing but I sanded down the inner edge and it closed absolutely flush. I had won.

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