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RV lightweight cabinets??

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Forum topic by Belg1960 posted 06-24-2017 01:50 PM 4629 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Belg1960

1072 posts in 3152 days


06-24-2017 01:50 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

My son and I will be building out the interior of a van (Sprinter type probably) and I have build plenty of standard cabinets but am looking for ways to save weight but still be structurally sound and be able to handle the bouncing of an RV. Thanks for any input, links or advice.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!


22 replies so far

View jbay's profile

jbay

2494 posts in 986 days


#1 posted 06-24-2017 02:07 PM

Look around this site to give you some ideas… (But it’s not cheap)

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3734 days


#2 posted 06-24-2017 03:32 PM

I think the way it has been commonly done
in trailers is you build a frame for the whole
cabinet and nail 1/4” panels to it to enclose.
Some cheap apartment style cabinets are still
built this way, though most probably with
sides a little thicker than 1/4”.

View tyvekboy's profile

tyvekboy

1783 posts in 3099 days


#3 posted 06-24-2017 04:48 PM

JBAY … those honeycomb panels look interesting but as you say expensive.

Now I would think the same could be done if you made panels like a torsion box. The best way to describe what I’m envisioning is with pictures:

Components would be a frame pieces 3/4” thick by 1-1/2” wide. Grid pieces 1/2” wide by 1/4” thick with 1/8” dados. Also skin components of 1/4” plywood.

The internal grid would be glued together.

Then the skins would be glued to both sides of the grid.

Then the lightweight panel is glued inside the frame. This would be time consuming but cheaper than the honeycomb panels.

These panels can then be assembled into your cabinet boxes and doors to the boxes. The outside frame of the panels will allow you to join the sides and tops of the cabinets and also places to install hinges and knobs. You might be able to use pocket screws … I don’t know if 1-1/2” is enough for pocket screws.

Another simpler way to do this is to make the frames with 1/4” dados and insert 1/4” plywood inside the frames.

This might be an even lighter method.

Both are time consuming but when you’ve got more time than money, this is the way to go. Maybe both methods could be use depending on where it will be used and the look desired.

Hope this gives you some ideas on how to make lightweight cabinets.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

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woodbutcherbynight

5491 posts in 2495 days


#4 posted 06-24-2017 04:52 PM

I installed some metal ones for a customer at work few weeks ago. They are nice but I saw the invoice for them. Yeah if it were me I think making my own goes easier on the wallet. The honeycomb idea looks like it will work, but be time consuming to make. Works in aircraft!

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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Woodknack

12245 posts in 2466 days


#5 posted 06-24-2017 04:53 PM

I’ve watched videos on pro built cabinets for vans and tiny trailers and always thought it would be fun. Some were built from a veneered honeycomb cardboard, like cabinets in aircraft. Others were built with 3/8 ply. Mostly it is the design that interests me because you need maximum utility combined with compactness.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Belg1960's profile

Belg1960

1072 posts in 3152 days


#6 posted 06-24-2017 07:25 PM

Guys, you have given me an inspiration. How about using triple wall cardboard as the center panel instead of the torsion box? I found the dimensions for this are 5/8 for triple wall and 1/4 for double. If I used double and then added 1/4 luan on each side I’ll have some pretty solid 3/4”??

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18343 posts in 3762 days


#7 posted 06-24-2017 11:37 PM

Go look at a few RVs. They are framed with 1x and 1/4” paneling. They hold up better than you would think.

I have towed them at least 50,000 miles. Never had any major failures yet.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Belg1960's profile

Belg1960

1072 posts in 3152 days


#8 posted 06-25-2017 10:33 AM



Go look at a few RVs. They are framed with 1x and 1/4” paneling. They hold up better than you would think.

I have towed them at least 50,000 miles. Never had any major failures yet.

- TopamaxSurvivor


Bob, I plan on using 1/4” beadboard plywood with a solid frame for the doors and drawer faces. Any chance you might share the way you held drawers closed? I used some Blum hinges for the doors and some catches with two rollers and a pin on his last one and he said that he had them come open a couple times.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View EricTwice's profile

EricTwice

237 posts in 620 days


#9 posted 06-25-2017 10:56 AM

Years ago, when I lived in Florida I did several sets of cabinets for boats.
I cut the parts from polyurethane foam sheet. then I marked where I needed solid structure. I routed out and added eastern white pine of the same thickness. I covered the parts with plastic laminate as I assembled them.

The finished project had very little weight and was fairly strong (just make sure the foam you use is not affected by the glue. You don’t want your work to melt)

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View Belg1960's profile

Belg1960

1072 posts in 3152 days


#10 posted 06-25-2017 11:10 AM



Years ago, when I lived in Florida I did several sets of cabinets for boats.
I cut the parts from polyurethane foam sheet. then I marked where I needed solid structure. I routed out and added eastern white pine of the same thickness. I covered the parts with plastic laminate as I assembled them.

The finished project had very little weight and was fairly strong (just make sure the foam you use is not affected by the glue. You don t want your work to melt)

- EricTwice


Eric, I thought about using foam but was wondering about the off gassing. What kind of foam isn’t affected by the glue? I have always used contact cement and I know that eats foam.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View hotbyte's profile

hotbyte

991 posts in 3062 days


#11 posted 06-25-2017 11:27 AM

Our RV uses these latches on drawers and cabinet doors that have side mounted hinges – drawer latches

Cabinets over sofa and bed have top mounted hinges and use these to hold them open and closed – door supports

Construction material for cabinets is 1/4 ply over 1x frames, as mentioned, or 1/2” mdf covered in vinyl “veneer.” Drawers are 1/2 ply. Drawer fronts and doors are solid 3/4 with 1/4 panels. The 1x framing for bottoms allows running wires for undercabinet lights and outlets. Also, no backs, just nailer strips.

Ron Paulk is doing a construction trailer using some lightweight plywood – Ron Paulk YouTube

View EricTwice's profile

EricTwice

237 posts in 620 days


#12 posted 06-25-2017 01:25 PM

I used an extruded polyurethane foam sheet, (not the upholstery material) The same stuff that’s the spray cans of foam insulation. It’s pretty much inert.
(although I wonder if it would mater if you used a water based contact cement.)

The doors were a mitered frame with a foam insert. laminated front and back, trim and run a 1/4 round bit cutting the plastic back to reveal the wood below.
i put a thin band of teak on the edge and revealed it with the router. It’s a nice look. It is more durable than laminate edges and removes the sharp corners.

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View mrg's profile

mrg

828 posts in 3086 days


#13 posted 06-25-2017 02:24 PM

When the sprinter first came out I was managing my buddies company. We designed a Sprinter as a mobile showroom. Had above head cabinets, counters and a bank of draws. Along the one wall we had used mechanics tool boxes with a counter on top. The bank of draws for a desk used self closing slides, the never came open while driving. The tool boxes we would lock just because of the weight of stick in them. The uppers stayed closed. The wall was skinned with 3/4 and the cabinets screwed into that. Electric was run behind skins.

The video mentioned above is basically how we did it.

-- mrg

View shipwright's profile (online now)

shipwright

8031 posts in 2884 days


#14 posted 06-25-2017 02:48 PM

Check out Clark foam. I built an ultralight camper with it years ago. I used 1/2” board stock with a thin skin of ‘glass on each side. I think I had forty-odd moulds for various parts. It was extremely light and very strong. A 1/8” plywood panel might get it done more easily than moulds and glass and vacuum bags and all that.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18343 posts in 3762 days


#15 posted 06-26-2017 12:37 AM

Pat, They are all held with friction catches. Everyone we have owned had drawers and doors open occasionally.

We for doors that are side by side together to keep them closed.

We have 2 sets of fairly large drawers one above the other in our current unit. I miterd a stick of 1x to closely fit the cove edges between them. I used a barrel latch set to hold it in place. I added a dowel to fit into the hardware on one end and drilled a hole for the latch to slide into on the other end. Hope that makes sense.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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