The first part of making the van look more homely; adding some cladding (rhyme, boom).
I started with the back doors. For the lower halves of the doors I cut some ply (this part will be below the bed, so not visible once the interior is finished), making sure to cut a rectangular hole to slip the door handle through. I didn’t take any photos during cladding the back doors, so here’s a poor quality finished photo (I’ll explain the process using the side door as the example, which was harder to clad than the back doors).
Now for the side door.
I used spruce cladding from Wickes and self-drilling metal screws.
I bought 38 and 55mm screws and used exclusively 38mm for the side door. The back door was deep enough to have used either.
The side door proved pretty annoying to clad effectively, as a ran into a number of obstacles. Firstly, because the door needs enough clearance from the side of the van to actually open, I would not be able to fasten the cladding to a beam like I would do inside the van, hence the self-drilling metal screws. Secondly, there was only about 1cm of metal frame on the left side of the door, which curved away pretty quickly, making drilling the metal screws in a right pain! Thirdly, with their protruding bolt heads, the metal screws did not leave enough clearance for parts of the door not to come into contact with the running bar.
Here is my method of sinking the screws as far into the thin cladding as possible, so as to allow enough room for the door to open – First I had to drill a guide hole (you don’t need to drill holes in soft wood when using metal screws ordinarily).
Then widen the hole to the exact shape of the washers attached to the screw, enabling the screw to countersink.
Drill the screw into the metal through the predrilled, countersunk hole.
The metal screws don’t always bore into the metal perfectly, sometimes I had to tighten them up with a ratchet.
A technique I stole from the highly inspirational Mike Hudson, aka Vandog Traveller to get accurate curvature around the top sides of the doors was by sticking masking tape around the curve then peeling it off as one piece and using it as a template to cut around.
Around the wooden frame from the window installation I used normal golden wood screws to secure the cladding to the frame.
I’ll talk about varnishing in the next post about getting the ply and cladding up inside the van.