Scribing plywood to van sidewalls.

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by glob@l, Aug 25, 2021.

  1. glob@l

    glob@l Active Member

    What's the best way to do this on your own and can it be done in one hit?
  2. Wayners

    Wayners Screwfix Select

    Easier to buy a kit but when I did mine I used lining paper and card with some hardboard and duck tape and made template first.
    No idea if that's correct way
    ginger tuffs likes this.
  3. ginger tuffs

    ginger tuffs Screwfix Select

    As Wagner’s said template with cardboard
  4. CGN

    CGN Screwfix Select

    Or buy a couple of sheets of corex floor protection. Few quid from wickes and an 8x4 sheet.
  5. GS63

    GS63 Member

  6. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    It's not especially difficult to do. First job is to cut your upright panels to the height you want them - but cut the front-to-back depth oversize by 150mm or so. Then stand them up approximately where where they're going to be in the van. The distances between scribing points are way bigger than usual, so you'll need to make a scribing gadget - easiest and quickest is the classic 'bit of wood with a hole drilled in it with a pencil shoved tightly in the hole'. You can also knock up a pair of dividers from two pieces of timber with a nut & bolt fastening them together at one end.

    Stand the timber upright and place it side-on against the van wall. Holding it steady - set your scribing gadget or dividers to the widest distance point - this is likely to be at the bottom, because most van sides curve inwards towards the top. Carefully run your gadget from bottom to top, with the opposite end of your gadget running up the van wall profile. Cut the resulting line with a jigsaw and set to one side. Now repeat the process with the next upright, once again located in the position it's going to go. Continue this process until all of your uprights are done - number them so you know which is which. The reason for doing each upright individually is that it's amazing just how much the side profile of the van changes along its length.You'll also need to make the necessary cutouts for wheel arches, door hinges and so on.

    Next job is to run a length of duck tape along the floor of the van from front to back, keeping it parallel to the sides. This line will represent the front edge of your racking. You remember that the depth was cut oversize? Place each upright back in position, and mark it where it sits on the edge of your duck tape line. Cut vertically from this mark - a plunge saw is best for this if you have one. Repeat for the other uprights - and you'll now have scribed uprights which are parallel along the front edge. Then just knock up your horizontal shelves and you're good to go. All my kit is housed in Tanos or Festool Systainers, so I made shelves with a router which contained square slots for the feet to sit in, from a template I'd knocked up. These were rebated into the sides of the verticals then screwed through the opposite sides. Hope the above makes sense - but every picture tells a story .......

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    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
    rogerk101 likes this.
  7. Okoak

    Okoak Active Member

    I spent 15 years converting vans, trailers and buses for promotional use, the method we developed is as follows :
    Cut a load of 6mm mdf into strips, size not important but around 100mm wide works well, and as long as the 2440 length of the sheet.
    You will need a load of 12mm screws too.
    Start where you like (let's assume the floor starting behind the bulkhead) cut your first piece of mdf strip to length, push it into place flat on the floor against the bulkhead and using a compass scripe as required and cut with a jigsaw.... Once you have done that pit it in place and leave it.
    Take another strip and cut to length to fit between the bulkhead and wheel arch, and scribe it in, then lay it in place against the wall and on top (at one end) of the first bit, then fix the 2 strips together with half a dozen screws.
    Carry on cutting and scribing strips and screwing them together until you go all the way round and end up where you started. Then screw a couple of random strips across to form diagonal braces.
    You will now have created n accurate template of the entire floor from strip of mdf screwed together, which won't look pretty but is flexible enough to carefully remove from the van floor in one piece and then place on top of how ever many sheets of play you require.... Simply draw around the template carefully and then cut the ply.
    When you are happy, take all the screws out and re use them on the next bit which is simply a repeat of the first. You can even re use some of your mdf strips.
    The advantage of this method is that you are simply scribing one small section at a time and building up an entire template rather than attempting to deal with 4 or more sides all at once.
    CGN, rogerk101 and chillimonster like this.
  8. glob@l

    glob@l Active Member

    Thanks for all of these ideas.

    I meant the sidewalls vertically but your post is more than welcome since I hadn't even thaught about the floor, so thanks.
  9. Okoak

    Okoak Active Member

    It makes no difference where you are doing it, it's the same method.
  10. glob@l

    glob@l Active Member

    Oh right, even on curved surfaces like the van sidewalls?
  11. Okoak

    Okoak Active Member

    Yes, you are simply creating an accurate template, just push the strips in to the curve and you will end up with the correct size.
    The double curvature of vehicles is precisely why this is the best method to use.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
  12. glob@l

    glob@l Active Member

    I've read through your post a few of times and I get it now! Presumably the shelves were secured to upright's (wood) which in turn were fixed through suitable areas (not the outer panel) of the sidewalls of the van?
  13. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    Yes mate. The whole racking assembly was screwed to the ply sides and ply floor using lots of steel brackets and 4 x 16 screws. Didn’t want to use anything longer for fear of hitting cables between the ply and the van sides. I also strengthened the fixings holding the ply onto the van’s metalwork with loads more self-tappers.
  14. glob@l

    glob@l Active Member

    Thanks for that!

    In your experience, which vans do you consider would make the best conversion to motorhomes?

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