Creating a cab shelf

Since this was the first thing I did after giving the van a good clean, I haven’t documented it with pictures like I have other stages.

The cab shelf, pre-wooden front
The cab shelf, pre-wooden front

It’s always a good idea to utilise as much space as possible in a van conversion, especially when you’re trying to squeeze a 6ft bed, cupboards, large storage area, work top, shelves and other things into a medium wheelbase van!

I wanted to install a shelf above the cab without removing the cab lining (this would just be a hassle to remove and reattach), so my plan was to anchor the shelf by cutting through the cab lining at either side and anchoring the shelf with a beam that would rest on each side of the van.

To make the shelf I bought a sheet of ply, a couple of steel panels*, carpet tiles and carpet adhesive from B&Q.

I cut the ply sheet to the approximate dimensions of the cab then screwed a beam (an off cut from the removed bulkhead) on top of the ply. Using a Stanley knife I cut holes in the sides of the cab lining big enough, and on the right level, for the beam to rest on the protruding sides of the van inside.

shelfbeamThis would be enough alone to hold the shelf in place, but as a belt and braces measure, I also wanted to attach the shelf to the van with the steel panels.

I carpeted both sides of the shelf using carpet adhesive. In hindsight I wish I had used a stronger glue, perhaps a high-heat adhesive as the gravity-defying underside carpet on the shelf did begin to peel off a few weeks after I had installed it.

After carpeting I put the shelf in place and set about making the steel holding panels.

I cut the panels to suitable size using a hacksaw and bent them (after measuring) at as best a right angle as I could. I drilled some holes in the high van support beam and used bolts packed out with a number of fixing washers to prevent movement, I then drilled self tapping screws up into the underside of the shelf, fixing the steel panels in place.

As a final touch (and to stop things falling off in transit), I cut to size a piece of pine, sanded the top edge and corners and gave it a few coats of danish wood oil before slipping it in conveniently behind the steel panels and screwing in place.

*Why are the steel panels black, you ask? Well that would be because I coloured them in with black marker pen. Told you it was very DIY.


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