benches-closed

I always intended the van to stay as modular as possible on the inside so that I can customize it to fit my needs in the future. There was only one set of interior furniture that I knew was going to be there permanently: two benches. These benches will provide additional seating now that I lost about ¾ of the original seating capacity in the process of adding the new floor. Furthermore, they are going to open up and provide a massive amount of storage for tools, kayak equipment, and the solar battery bank. At night the benches and table are designed to turn into a bed but that is another set of instructions.

Goal:

  • sturdy benches in the rear & partially over the wheel wells
  • sitting room for 4-6 people
  • storage for gear & additional equipment / modifications

Materials:

  • 8ft. Two-By-Four x 6 (~$9 each)
  • Sheet of MDF x 1
  • Sheet of 1/8 inch Ply Wood
  • Metal Angles x 2
  • Hinges x 4
  • Paint
  • Various Screws

Tools:

  • Circular Saw
  • Power Drill
  • Tape Measure
  • Paint Brushes


Step #1: Dimensions & Wheel Wells
Since we want to use the space for a bed, I would recommend making the benches at lease 6 feet in length. I didn’t do this at first, and extended my benches later to make it possible for more than once person to sleep comfortably. The tricky part is working with the wheel wells. they will inevitably interfere with your construction. To solve this problem, i made the benches just tall enough to sit on top of this obstacle at a overall height of about one foot. This allows for a really comfortable seating position.

Step #2: Construction for Ease, and Durability 
Every component built for the van  is over0engineered to make sure it holds up to what I plan on putting this van through (some mild off-roading is inevitable). This applies especially to the benches since they will be able to seat 6, and sleep two.

All both benches are built to support all weight on 2×4 beams, coded with thin plywood on the sides and the seating area is made of an inch thick MDF. Below is a series of pictures showing all major steps of construction. Its really simple and very effective:

All the individual pieces cut to size:

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The 3 supporting pieces for the bench, assembled individually:

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One bench support, its just missing the 1/8th of an inch cover and the seating cover on hinges.

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I painted the benches and attached the seating surface using heavy duty hinges:

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Once the benches are built, they are eaily put in place and mounted. I used 1+½ inch screws to secure the benches to the flooring already installed. (The flooring is screwed into the frame of the van to ensure it stays in place)

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The space below the benches offers a ton of storage space. While I am continuing to build the van, it holds my toolbox and all other supplies. Once its ready to hit the road, I am considering dividers in the boxes to compartementalize the space for more efficient usage.

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