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Old 10-03-2019, 12:41 PM   #1
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anyone done any interesting aesthetic cabinet modifications?

Anyone out there done any cool woodwork on top of or replacing the SMB build cabinets?

I love my rig (2017 Sprinter 4x4 RB 150S). The one thing that I knew would come up short is the look of the cabinetry and finish. All else being equal (and definitely I know it is not), I would prefer a wooden boat look and feel. I don't love the look of the plastic wrapped around the MDF, for example, although again I appreciate it for durability and functionality.

So, I'm wondering if anyone else has done modifications.

Specifically, I'm thinking of engaging our cabinet maker friend to replace the fronts of the drawers with some sweet hardwood versions, and perhaps work on replacing the plastic bits with something more pimped out, while keeping the cabinet bodies as is. Would be a compromise in both directions but I'm keen to explore possibilities.

I understand that doing so would result in a less durable setup, and also that real wood moves around with changes in humidity, but on first approximation I'm told that this shouldn't be too huge of a problem given that we're talking about relatively small pieces, and that I'm willing to accumulate some nicks and scratches over time.

Anyhow, this is not yet well thought out, and certainly poorly formulated, but I'd welcome the chance to learn from others experience, and perspective, before setting this up.
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Old 10-03-2019, 01:19 PM   #2
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I'm currently in the process of doing just that. Have rebuilt my door pantry and replaced the two door cavity covers with solid hickory. My rig is a 2001, so it has the crapy MDF panels which are very susceptible to moisture swelling. That said, solid wood will be much tougher than factory. For ease of repair, I've elected to not use stain, only polyurethane. That way, just a little sanding and reapplication would fix any scratches. I believe your 2017 probably has actual plywood not MDF. I too plan on leaving the casework (for now) and just re-due the fronts.
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Old 10-03-2019, 01:49 PM   #3
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That's what I'm TALKIN about! So great to see what you're doing!

yes, I've got the plywood not MDF, and no complaints, it's a beautiful rig, but there's no art in it.

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I'm currently in the process of doing just that. Have rebuilt my door pantry and replaced the two door cavity covers with solid hickory. My rig is a 2001, so it has the crapy MDF panels which are very susceptible to moisture swelling. That said, solid wood will be much tougher than factory. For ease of repair, I've elected to not use stain, only polyurethane. That way, just a little sanding and reapplication would fix any scratches. I believe your 2017 probably has actual plywood not MDF. I too plan on leaving the casework (for now) and just re-due the fronts.
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Old 10-03-2019, 02:11 PM   #4
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https://youtu.be/c2KEhUs2soE
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Old 10-06-2019, 01:33 PM   #5
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Great video, great build, Len and Joanne!
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:28 PM   #6
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Wow! Gorgeous!
All I’ve actually done to my 2005 EB is to replace all the hardware on every cabinet etc. in my van. I’m still
working on my “ replacement” gaucho. It’s barely even sleepable for my aging body. I need something
wider than the alloted 25” width. It also needs to be lighter so I can get to batteries and water tank.
Meanwhile, despite the sleek appearance of the cabinets, I find it’s tough to actually fit very much into
any of them. If I could, I would definitely change the cabinets! Kudo’s to you, and hope it goes well.
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:54 PM   #7
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Thanks all. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this - its very serviceable workmanship, and if it ain't broke (and I'm still paying it off!) why fix it. Very happy to have the SMB dialed-ness, and we'll see if (maybe in a year's time) I can overlay on that some wooden-boat aesthetic and feel.
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Old 10-17-2019, 03:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemikemike View Post
Anyone out there done any cool woodwork on top of or replacing the SMB build cabinets?

I love my rig (2017 Sprinter 4x4 RB 150S). The one thing that I knew would come up short is the look of the cabinetry and finish. All else being equal (and definitely I know it is not), I would prefer a wooden boat look and feel. I don't love the look of the plastic wrapped around the MDF, for example, although again I appreciate it for durability and functionality.

So, I'm wondering if anyone else has done modifications.

Specifically, I'm thinking of engaging our cabinet maker friend to replace the fronts of the drawers with some sweet hardwood versions, and perhaps work on replacing the plastic bits with something more pimped out, while keeping the cabinet bodies as is. Would be a compromise in both directions but I'm keen to explore possibilities.

I understand that doing so would result in a less durable setup, and also that real wood moves around with changes in humidity, but on first approximation I'm told that this shouldn't be too huge of a problem given that we're talking about relatively small pieces, and that I'm willing to accumulate some nicks and scratches over time.

Anyhow, this is not yet well thought out, and certainly poorly formulated, but I'd welcome the chance to learn from others experience, and perspective, before setting this up.
Hi
Yours is an Interesting post as I have recently taken delivery on a new sprinter 4x4 SMB high roof ordered almost 2 years ago.
We noted the mediocre quality of the interior wood work during the ordering process and offered to pay more for a marine/ aircraft style cabinetry. It would seems to be in keeping with the quality image of the company. SMB will not do this . They did offer to upgrade some of the cabinet hardware at additional expense . This was excellent as far as it went but fell short as the hinges were not upgraded. I think yours is a worthy project and wish you luck.
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Old 10-17-2019, 04:02 PM   #9
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Hi
Yours is an Interesting post as I have recently taken delivery on a new sprinter 4x4 SMB high roof ordered almost 2 years ago.
We noted the mediocre quality of the interior wood work during the ordering process and offered to pay more for a marine/ aircraft style cabinetry. It would seems to be in keeping with the quality image of the company. SMB will not do this . They did offer to upgrade some of the cabinet hardware at additional expense . This was excellent as far as it went but fell short as the hinges were not upgraded. I think yours is a worthy project and wish you luck.
Congrats on the new rig! I hope you end up loving it as much as I have mine.

And yes, I did have this conversation w SMB as well. They deckined either to the cabinetry in real wood, or to partially build the systems and let me have someone else do it. They noted that 1) they know how to build these things well - their templates are dialed, they bolt the cabinets through the frame, they know how to avoid squeaking and rattling issues etc etc 2) wood moves with humidity, so building structures for vans out of wood comes with issues 3) wood is heavy.

Expense presumably being another implicit category here.

I chose to continue with them because it was more important to me to have van that works and avoids the potential aches and pains of a less experience/more custom installer, not only for the cabinetry but also for all the other systems. Having seen others go through this I was not interested in that level of investment of time and energy.

That said, there are plenty of high end yachts that are made with hardwood and flourish at sea, so I imagine it could be done.

So, eventually, I hope to figure out a way to add some style, while maintaining the benefits of SMB's installed expertise. We will see.
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