Given the scarcity of storage space in a van, a campervan cupboard / wardrobe can be a very useful piece of kit! Essentially a giant empty cuboid, a campervan cupboard can store clothes, electrics, or even food. In this article we will walk step-by-step through an illustrated guide on how to build a campervan cupboard.
In our 2023 study, we found that 31% of van conversions have a wardrobe.
I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!
So let's jump in and learn about how to build a campervan cupboard!
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Design the campervan cupboard first
Before hopping into building a campervan cupboard, it is essential that you mock it up on paper or with CAD software first! Here is a full guide on campervan design that will help you get started. I highly recommend Vanspace3D for designing your campervan interior - it's an awesome drag n' drop CAD tool specifically for van conversions.
How to Build a Campervan Cupboard
A campervan cupboard / wardrobe is a pretty essential item in your build, it can house your clothes, food, or whatever else you dream up. In a long wheelbase van (I have the Ford Transit L3H3) it tends to be a toss-up between installing a shower unit or installing a campervan cupboard - I chose a cupboard as I have a lot of outdoor gear!
Note: I built the campervan cupboard using the 'carcassing method' rather than the 'dado method'. You can learn more about campervan carpentry here.
Step #1: Build the support frame
The first step is to build the support frame. You can use 1X1, 2X1, or 2X2 carcassing timber for this. The suggested dimension for the campervan cupboard depth is 600mm. It will be the full height of the van, so about 180 cm for an insulated high roof van.
To ensure the angles of the cuboid frame are at 90° angles, you should use a carpenter's square.
Step #2: Clad the sides of the support frame
After you have built the support frame, you can go ahead and clad the sides of the frame with 8 or 10mm tongue and groove. You can screw the cladding into the support frame. The best tool for cutting tongue and groove is the jigsaw.
The cladding at the back of the campervan cupboard will have a curved shape to match the wall of the campervan. In order to cut these curves to fit perfectly flush with the back wall, you will need to use a scribe tool. Here's a short video on how to use that scribe tool.
Step #3: Build the shelves
Next cut out some shelves from plywood. I used OSB board which I would not suggest - use regular plywood instead. The shelves rest along horizontal wooden beams in the support frame. I installed four shelves in total.
Step #4: Build the doors
The last step of the campervan cupboard is to build the doors. I built three doors in total - Pantry on top, clothes in the middle, and electrics at the bottom.
We build the doors for the campervan cupboard in the exact same manner as the bulkhead storage; lengths of tongue and groove secured together with horizontal cladding slats on the back.
I used strap hinges to secure the bottom two doors and cabinet hinges to secure the top door.
The final step of the campervan cupboard is to screw some stripwood (trimming) around the edges of each door. This is cosmetic and makes them look much nicer!
And that's all there is to building a campervan cupboard!
Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).
If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,