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Old 02-27-2020, 04:36 PM   #1
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Interior cabinetry face lift

I decided to update my original SMB cabinetry after having my "new" van for about a year. I like the RB50 layout, but the stark white just isn't my taste as I tend to gravitate to a more rustic appearance. I was also pretty disappointed in the MDF panels that SMB built all their cabinetry out of in the early 2000's. Just like others have found, my van suffered from some areas of MDF swelling due to years of moisture and spills.

So late last winter I began with my remodel. I've been building some cabinetry in our house with hickory and decided that would be almost ideal to use for the van. This wood is incredibly dense and strong (think baseball bats), so it would be highly dent resistant and give me the rustic look I enjoy. The downside is that it can be tough to work with and weighs a LOT. The weight of solid wood may be an issue for some, but I think with all the additions to date - it has added about 20lbs to the build. I decided to leave all the original SMB structure and focus on replacing the visible panels (first).

The first project was to get rid of the MDF panel on the rear driver's side door and the plywood panel the PO had installed on the side 40 door.
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Old 02-27-2020, 04:52 PM   #2
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The first step was to select some wood from my pile and plane it down to a uniform 3/4". Once that was accomplished, I decided to go with light and dark wood pattern for the rear door. So I selected a dark piece of hickory and a light piece.

I wanted the board to be light-dark-light, so I ripped the lighter piece in two and glued the panel back together with some wood glue and clamps. That done, I cut it to my desired dimensions. For both door panels, I ended up sizing my replacement panels larger then the standard SMB versions to give me additional working surface.

After cutting the panels to size I used my router table and a round over bit to round both the corners and the edges. For the side door, the process was similar except I opted for a single color of wood.
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:03 PM   #3
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The next step was to try and improve on SMB's hinge mounting technique. When they mounted the door hinges, they just screwed them right through the fabric covering the door panels. Over time this caused some wear and tear to the door panels themselves. After days of looking, I found a vendor on Etsy that would custom size and cut some aluminum plates that I could use to mount between my new black hinges and the door panels themselves. For these, I used some liquid metal etching formula and spray painted black before mounting.
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:19 PM   #4
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The finish I have applied to all the wood in this thread was Minwax wipe on Polyurethane. I just applied this over the bare wood. That way if/when the wood gets scratched or damaged in use, the repair would only involve sanding and applying more finish.

The wire shelf supports were recycled from the original SMB fold down doors and secured to the new doors with #8 5/8" wood screws.

As for the artwork, it's always in the eye of the beholder. However, I gave this panel to a friend of mine to do some wood burning with a basic idea of what I wanted and she certainly made my day
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:27 PM   #5
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That looks fantastic - I'm sure its very satisfying to make all the cabinetry yourself, and from what you've shown in the Pic's, you're damn good at it. Cant wait to see what it looks like when the entire project is completed. Very nice touch with the wood-burning graphics.
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:57 PM   #6
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Looks awesome!!! Love the artwork.
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Old 02-27-2020, 08:39 PM   #7
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Beautiful! What a great idea to do the woodburning artwork. Nice to have a friend like that.

Looking forward to the rest of it.
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Old 02-28-2020, 10:30 AM   #8
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Super clean!

Also, the artwork is awesome. Love touches like that. Takes me to a nice place when I look at it.
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Old 02-28-2020, 10:34 AM   #9
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Thank you all for the encouragement and kind words

The next item on my agenda was to do something with that space behind the driver's seat and in front of the refrigerator cabinet. I tried to find what others here had used that space for and didn't have any luck searching through threads. My initial thought was to install some kind of magazine rack back there in order to store maps and owner's manuals...

However, after a weekend trip with Mrs. Steve C and dealing with a couple of bottles of wine rolling around for days, I decided to give her a spot of her own. A wine rack seemed like the perfect solution and I figured I'd get brownie points as well...

First thing I did was mock up a series of side profiles with scraps in order to match the angle of the seat when it's in my preferred driving position. I really wanted the rack to fit in the space like it was meant to be there from the beginning.

After some searching on line (and through our recycling bins), I decided to use 3 3/8" holes for the bottles. While this size hole won't fit all bottles, it seemed to be the best compromise and it also fit a bottle of whisky I had in the van at the time I utilized a hole saw mounted in a drill press to completely cut through the top two brackets. On the bottom board, I drilled down about 1/4" and used a hand held router with a straight bit to clean out the rest. To more easily slide bottles in and out of the rack, I used a 3/8" round over bit and went around the tops and bottoms of the middle two supports.

To attach the wine bottle supports I decided to route dados in the sides and glue them in. For the top and bottom mounting boards, I drilled pocket holes into the backs and screwed them to the sides (sorry no pictures of that).

To help limit rattling bottles, I also added some weather stripping around the inside of three of the holes (the whisky bottle fit perfectly as was). So far, that seems to have prevented any noise from occurring. Attaching the wine rack to the front of the refrigerator cabinet was accomplished by using four #8 3/4" washer head screws. Two on the top and two on the bottom mounting boards. Eventually these screw heads will be covered by SMB provided black press on screw covers.

If anyone decides to make their own, I think that just about any bottle shape and size could be accounted for. You'd just need to make the holes a little differently.

In the completed picture, you will see that the mounted rack sticks out like a sore thumb. That will be remedied in a future post when the other cabinet fronts match.
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Old 02-28-2020, 10:57 AM   #10
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^^ Smart use of space! Consider gluing felt in the bottle slots for sound dampening and a bit of cushioning for the bottles. Also maybe put a piece of dense foam to cushion the bottom of the bottles.
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