Van Diaries 5 – The Counter Part 2: Countertop

* Disclaimer: If you haven’t figured it out by now… we’re still learning how to blog effectively…  😛

Planning phase…

With the framing complete… we are moving onto the countertop! And with most of the planning done , there isn’t much left except to jump right in and get started!

The idea is to build the countertop as two pieces. Each piece will fasten to two of the base pieces (There are three base pieces). To do this, we’ll drill holes into the surface of the counter and extend hex bolts into the frame.

Any time we want to remove the counter, we can simply unscrew the hex bolts and lift the counter away. With the countertop removed, each of the three base pieces will be separate from the others and can be easily removed.

Countertop phase…

So! The first thing we need is to cut some pieces of lighter underlay material to span across the top of each individual base piece.

The underlay surface will attach separately to each of the three base pieces, which at this point are still completely separate from each other.

Once we lay the underlay 😀, we can begin cutting the countertop surface.
Here we’re going to go with a 3/4″ pine plywood… which was somewhat more of an affordability decision… maybe we’ll upgrade later; any ideas!?

Chop chop chop… or I guess buz buz buz….

We had to measure/cut/measure/cut to fit the van curves just right.

Here is all the underlay already in place, and the first counter surface (to the left) is spanning the entire small cabinet and part of the large back cabinet.

Here’s another shot beneath the counter. You can see some of the siding we are preparing (more on that later).

The second top piece will resemble an “L” shape, and connect the desk piece to the back cabinet.

Again, lots of trial and error until the piece fit the van just right.

With the surface pieces cut and in place, we begin to drill holes (strategically of course) through the counter, into the base.

We will then install a washer (fixed to the countertop and within each hole) and sink a threaded nut into the base piece beneath each countertop hole. A hex bolt can then be used to hold the counter surface to the base pieces.

With the surface cut, we can then give it a few layers of polyurethane and add some fancy trim.

Siding and Cabinets

Our plan calls for three cabinets. A large one in the center to access beneath the back countertop, and one on either side to access two smaller, internally isolated, cabinets (each having a single center shelf).

(You can see we snuck some siding pieces in there… no comment.)

The area beneath the surface and to the far left (as seen below), with a cabinet door in front of it, will  not be a cabinet, but will be the leg space for our desk.

It takes us a little trial and error to figure out exactly  how to do these things sometimes. We’re working here to get just the right depth for mounting the hinge hardware.

Eventually it usually all works out.

We’re pretty inexperienced with wood working (it probably shows)…

When we went to stain the siding pieces with a “clear” stain, we didn’t realize how much darker it would become… though, the wood we chose is pretty cheap… and I don’t think it’s designed to be stained… or even used as a visible piece in any project.

…Maybe we’ll fix that later.

It really doesn’t look too bad… it’s just a pretty dark color in an already dark van…

It’s coming together surprisingly well for our first attempt!

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