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This is how to Build a Campervan Kitchen Unit

One of the most important areas of your van is the campervan kitchen unit. It has many functions, from housing the sink and stove, to the fridge, cutlery drawers, and storage cabinets. Truly a campervan kitchen unit is essential. Thus and therefore, in this illustrated guide we will learn how to build a kitchen unit from start to finish.

I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for many years, I'm the author of The Van Conversion Newsletter, the van conversion instructor at Udemy, and the proud owner of a beautiful self-build campervan called Beans. So let's jump in and learn about how to build a campervan kitchen unit!

How to build a campervan kitchen unit

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How to build a Campervan Kitchen Unit

In this guide we will learn how to build a campervan kitchen unit that looks something like this:

Beautiful campervan kitchen

I even installed a terrarium in my campervan kitchen unit! 👇

Campervan terrarium

Truly, a campervan kitchen unit is essential, so let's look at how to build one!

0. Finalise your campervan layout

Step 0... Make sure you have finalised your campervan design plans. This means mocking up your van on paper, or using a CAD software. The kitchen unit is so large and important that you need to know exactly where it will go.

Learn how to design your campervan in this article.

Campervan design in CAD

1. Build the carcassing frame

First step is to build the carcass of the campervan kitchen unit. I used 2X2 timber for this.

It is important to know exactly which compartments you want in your campervan kitchen unit. I needed compartments for the LPG heater, gas bottle, cutlery, pots & pans, water containers, fridge, and garbage bins. I also needed to account for the depth and width that the SMEV sink and stove would take up on the top.

Carcass of the campervan kitchen unit

The carcassing frame was built using simple butt joints that were screwed together. I used a lot of pocket hole joints when building the frame.

To ensure the angles of the cuboid frame are at 90° angles, you should use a carpenter's square.

2. Ply-line the back of the campervan kitchen unit

Ply-line the back of the campervan kitchen unit. This is a straightforward job with a jigsaw or circular saw.

Cutting plywood for campervan kitchen unit

A handy way to ensure you are cutting in a straight line is to use a chalk line. You flick and snap the chalk line down on the plywood and it will give you a nice, straight 'chalk line' to cut along.

How to use chalk line

Because my campervan kitchen unit separates the cab and the living quarters of the van, I insulated the back with board insulation and covered with some more ply.

Insulating the campervan kitchen unit

Next, ply-line the individual compartments of the campervan kitchen unit.

Shelves for the campervan kitchen unit

3. Install the kitchen top

The kitchen top is an essential part of any campervan kitchen unit. It is a very hard surface that can take a lot of wear and tear. We install the sink and stove into the kitchen top.

Measure the required size and cut the kitchen top using a circular saw. Kitchen top wood is very hard wood. So make sure you are using a new, very sharp circular saw. Do not use a blade with a very high tooth count.

Cutting a kitchen worktop

At this point, you will want to make a cut-out to allow for the installation of the sink and stove. The SMEV 9222 comes with a cardboard template which you can trace around with a pencil. You then simply cut along the trace line. Here is a guide on how to install the SMEV 9222.

Installing SMEV in kitchen worktop

Finally, glue down the kitchen top to the carcass using wood glue. Add some sealant where necessary and clamp it down for a few hours to 'seal the deal'

Sticking campervan kitchen worktop

4. Build the doors

The last step is to build the campervan kitchen unit doors. Build these in the same manner as the wardrobe: lengths of tongue and groove secured together with horizontal cladding slats on the back.

Doors of campervan kitchen unit

Attach each the door to the side furring using two strap hinges. Install a door knob on each door. I also installed magnetic catches to keep the door shut tight when driving.

The final step of your is to install some stripwood (narrow decorative timber) around the edges of each door. This makes them look great!

Doors of campervan kitchen unit

I made similar doors for the smaller compartments in the campervan kitchen unit

small door in kitchen unit


And that's all there is to building a campervan kitchen unit!

I hope you found this guide helpful. If you did, consider subscribing 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 sign up).

Be sure to check out the rest of the Woodwork Guides. Related articles include: campervan cupboard, Van bulkhead storage, Overhead cupboards.

If you're converting a van but unsure of how to do it, you could also check out the Van Conversion Course on Udemy. In the course, you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!

Until next time,

Shane ✌️

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