Today I built the wooden drawers that sit under the front of the raised floor and are accessible from inside the van. The drawers have a soft closing mechanism, which is neat, but I don’t really care that they close on their own for the last inch or so. What I do care about, however, is that the same soft close mechanism makes them more difficult to open for that first inch or so, making it less likely to slide open while driving. This means I won’t need an ugly latch attached to it like you’ll see in a lot of campers; the drawer will hold itself shut.
I started the drawers by building a small housing to attach the slides to. I didn’t *need* to do this step, as I could have just attached the drawers directly to the floor joists, but I felt it gave it a cleaner look.
Once I had the housing built, it was time to cut the wood for the drawer itself. Because of how I plan to face the front of the drawer later on, I cut the drawer boards so that the finished product will extend 3/4″ out the front of the housing and have 1/2″ on each side to accommodate the width of the slides. The drawers are also designed to sit 1″ from the bottom to slide over the flooring easily and 1/2″ from the top to give plenty of clearance. Once the wood was cut, I nailed it together to form a box, making sure all the corners were 90 degrees.
Of course, a drawer is not complete (or useful) without a bottom. I bought a small sheet of 1/4″ white birch plywood for this purpose. Once I had it cut to size, I added a little bit of glue to the bottom of the drawer frame and nailed it in place. It looks great and feels really solid.
I bought 18″ soft close drawer slides to attach to the drawer and housing. I took my time placing them and making sure the measurements resulted in the drawer being positioned exactly where I wanted it – giving me plenty of space for the drawer to slide over my yet-to-be-installed wood flooring.
Here’s a video to demonstrate their soft close function:
I won’t be facing the drawers until much later when I do all the trim work around the seating areas. The drawer faces will be completely flush with the end of the bed box. I haven’t decided on handles yet or if I even want them. If I do handles, I’m thinking about them being recessed into the face so I don’t stub my toes.
Anywho, I repeated the exact same steps to build the second drawer that goes under the floor. Once I had them both completed, I did a test fit to see how they looked. Pretty darn spiffy, if you ask me.
With the drawers in place, it was time to start my plumbing. My water tank is in the rear of the van, passenger side. My kitchen sink, hot water, and shower will be in the front of the van, driver side. This means I needed to run plumbing up and across the van and the best (cleanest) way to do this was hiding it under the raised floor. I specifically built the drawers to allow for a gap behind them where my plumbing sits.
I used PEX since it’s flexible and really easy to install. I’ve never worked with it before, but it’s all pretty straight forward; there’s even directions on how to install the fittings on every single package that contains a PEX connector. I left 1/2″ gap between the PEX and the wood framing so that I could slide insulating foam over everything once installed. It came out looking great.
I still have to plumb the water tank and install my pump, which I’ll finish tomorrow. I also can’t do any of the plumbing in the kitchen, since that area doesn’t even exist yet. I had to at least do the plumbing behind the drawers since the floor will be covering it up and I can’t build the rest of my bed frame without the floor in place.
Just like the plumbing, some of my electrical system runs under the floor behind the drawers. There are three recessed LED lights and three AC outlets that have power cables hidden here. I’m also thinking about running another wire to add a switch for my water pump next to the sink instead of next to my power box. Although my water pump is supposed to have an auto shut off feature and it claims that it can be run dry without causing damage, I’d rather be able to simply shut it off when it’s not in use, just in case. Plus, maybe it’ll save on battery a little.
When I was satisfied with how everything looked, I went ahead and nailed the drawer housings in place and covered everything up.
It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and most of next week, but I’m hoping there will still be sunshine so I can keep working on the van. If not, I guess I’ll start building my counter top. It’s gonna be built out of old silo door wood.