I can’t believe Brian is letting me write this post. We’re both generally pumped about our van, but I can’t match his enthusiasm for efficient storage solutions and our convertible table. I tell myself this isn’t entirely bad.
The table is pretty cool, I admit. (Brian will tell you more about storage in a separate post.) In short, the foot of the bed converts into a table and two bench seats. That conversion involves little more than folding the mattress, opening two latches on the table post, and raising the top. It’s magic!
Or, it’s good design and a little engineering. Given our heights, sleeping crosswise in any van would have required bent knees. Sleeping lengthwise consumes valuable real estate. This seemed like a problem in need of a clever design solution.
And, everyone knows plans for clever design solutions require 3D software!* Brian sketched ideas on the screen, and we visualized them in place in the van. He had been anticipating the building of the table for some time, sometimes apprehensive and other times exuberant.
As Brian detailed in a previous post, we used 80/20 aluminum for the bed and table supports. The bed frame itself forms three sides of each seat—both sides and the rear—and we added an 80/20 beam across the front of each seat. We added vertical supports connecting the seats to the floor to both front corners of each seat.
The bench seats are the ends of the bed platform. The tabletop is a piece of 3/4” maple plywood cut to fit the space between the benches. Armed with only a circular saw, we relied on the Bora Clamp Edge Saw Guide to ensure straight cuts. We double-sealed the seats (bed platform) and triple-sealed the table with Waterlox Marine Sealer.
The telescoping post is attached to a shelf installed several inches above the floor. This provides a place for us to rest our feet—otherwise they’d dangle when we sat on the bench—and the perfect-sized cubby for the camp stove. The shelf is regular 3/4" plywood.
The table is deep enough for two laptops and--nerd alert--for a game of Rivals of Catan, a compact version of Settlers. We can sit comfortably, feet resting on the shelf and plenty of headroom above.
The table pedestal was way more expensive than we wanted it to be ($300). The challenge was finding a telescoping post that, when collapsed, was the proper height for the bed platform and that didn’t retreat beneath the surface on which it was mounted. (The post can't recede into the floor.)
QUICK LOOK Materials Cost: $340 Products Used: * table post * maple plywood * Waterlox Marine Sealant * Springfield 3-Stage Table Pedestal Special Tools: * Bora WTX Clamp Edge Saw Guide Frustration Factor: Mild
Collapsing and raising the table is pretty thrilling, I must admit. Shortly after finishing it, we spent a week living and working out of the van. It worked great!
* SketchUp 2015