I am at the point to decide the material to build the cabinets. I will not use MDF or particle board, due to weight and the issue with swelling from moisture.
I could use hardwood plywood, but at 65-70 lbs a sheet, it would add ~400 lbs to the van.
So I am considering making composite panels using a wood and foam panel, covered with laminate sheets. This would all be joined with water-based contact cement.
I built a test panel with 1/2” foam and some scrap laminate that I had. I used some fir to build a 1-1/2” frame and cut the foam to fit inside. I just used staples to hold the frame together until I glued the laminate in. The wood frame would add strength and give me something solid to attach the panels together and screw in the hinges.
I didn’t have any real contact cement so I used some strong spray adhesive.
After the adhesive dried I trimmed the laminate with a router. The panel was pretty lightweight and stiff. It felt plenty strong, just at 1/2”, I would likely use 1”foam for the cabinets and I estimate it would be less than half the weight of 3/4”plywood. It would save over 200 lbs of dead weight. I also expect it would be close in cost, but probable a little more work.
I am not concerned as to the strength of the panels, but I am worried about adhesive failure. I have never seen contact cement fail, but I have only used it to attach laminate to countertops. How will it hold up to heat/cold cycles, or to the vibrations of many miles on a washboarded road?
I don’t want to build the cabinet and have them fail after a few years. I would join the wood frame with half-lap joints to add more strength, but the glued skin is what adds most of the strength.
So what does everyone think? Is there a better water based glue to use? I don’t have a vacuum press, so some type of contact glue would be needed. I know there are commercially available composite panel available, but they are out of my price range.
Thanks for the help.