Building Your Own Campervan Kitchen Is Challenging But Doable
In this article, we will show you how we built a beautiful, custom kitchen counter in our campervan.
This project was one of the most technically challenging parts of our entire van build, but if you take it slow and steady, we’re convinced that anyone can create their own campervan kitchen counters.
Seriously, if we can do it, so you can.
Table Of Contents
Kitchen Counter Digital Floor Plan Design
When we first began planning our campervan build, we created a digital floor plan of our campervan.
In the above model, you can see the birds-eye view floor plan we created. The orange rectangles are our kitchen counters. We designed a 72″ long kitchen counter behind the driver’s seat and a shorter 20.5″ long counter just next to the sliding door.
In our second digital floor plan sketch, we created the side view of our campervan. Here you can see more clearly our long kitchen counter and how we divided up the counter into six compartments.
In this sketch, we also were able to fit in our large kitchen items, like our fridge, a propane tank, our sink, and our fresh and grey water tanks.
To learn more, read our article: How To Create Your Own Campervan Floor Plan & Interior Layout
Kitchen Counter Construction
We broke up the construction of our campervan’s kitchen counters into four primary sections:
- Toe kick base
- Kitchen counter frame
- Drawers construction
- Butcher block countertop
Let’s get to it!
Toe Kick Base
We decided to build a toe tick area at the base of our kitchen counters. This was so that we could stand closer to the counters without always jamming our toes into the base of the counters.
Also, we felt having a toe kick would help us squeeze by each other when we needed to change places in the van.
We Watched This Video For Instruction
We loved watching Frank Howarth’s Youtube channel when we constructed our kitchen counters.
In the video above, Frank describes how he created the toe kick for his own kitchen counter. And we tried our best to replicate his method.
Kitchen Counter Frame
The difficult journey of our campervan kitchen counter construction by cutting 1/2″ Birch plywood boards with our table saw.
We created the kitchen counter frame by screwing together our plywood boards. We also used lots of wood glue at the plywood joints to ensure a strong hold.
Keeping the plywood joints at exactly 90 degrees was crucial here. We were always using our framing square to ensure every intersection was as close to 90 degrees as possible.
Having long clamps is also a must. You will need to keep the plywood joints held tightly together until the wood glue dries.
Once the plywood frame pieces were glued together and dried, we glued 2×1 pine wood beams to the frame to create our counter fronts. Again, it was super careful measurement taking and lots of wood glue and clamping.
Lastly, we put in a 1/2″ plywood frame across the top of our kitchen counter frames.
We did this by cutting our 1/2″ plywood into strips and gluing the strips across the top of the frame. We did this so that our future butcher block countertop can more comfortably sit on the counter.
You can see how this looks in the picture below.
The last part of the counter construction was creating the drawers and installing the drawer slides.
This was easily the most time intensive part of the counter construction project as measurements had to be super exact and drawer slides had to be extremely level when installed.
First we measured the exact dimensions of each drawer space in our counters. Because each drawer slide is 1/2″ thick (and two slides are required), the physical width of each drawer had to be exactly 1″ less than the drawer space in the counter.
The Kreg Tool’s Pocket Hole Jig became very useful for creating strong drawer frames. We definitely recommend picking one up.
Read More: How We Built Our Convertible Bed
Frank's Video Comes In Very Helpful...Again
The video above is Frank showing us how he created his own drawers. We loved how slow and detailed he described his process of creating his kitchen counter drawers.
In the end, we were able to build seven drawers that all fit snuggley into our campervan’s kitchen counters.
Attaching The Drawer Slides
When fixing the drawer slides to the kitchen counter frame, we relied heavily on the Kreg Tool Drawer Slide Jig. This jig helped to make sure our drawer slides were properly level and in the correct location to easily fit our drawers.
Sanding & Painting Our Kitchen Counters
With everything completed, we sanded our kitchen counters and drawers with both 80 & 120-grit sand paper.
And lastly, we painted our counters with both an anti-mold primer and the same ‘Twinkling Lights’ off-white paint that we used for our campervan walls.
Learn More: How We Created Beautiful Campervan Walls
Butcher Block Countertop
To match our dark brown cedar plank ceiling, we wanted a kitchen countertop that was also dark brown in color. As a result, we ordered a 8′ long Walnut Butcher Block from Lumber Liquidators.
The butcher block needed to be sized correctly to the shape of our kitchen counters, so we used blue painters tape to create our cut outline. We also used tape to create a square cut line to fit our future sink.
Butcher Block Cutting and Fitting
We then used our table saw, jig saw, and drill to cut the walnut butcher block board down to size.
Pro Tip: We made the width and depth of our butcher block 1/2″ larger than our kitchen counter frame. This will give the countertop a nice 1/2″ overhang.
Sanding & Oiling The Butcher Block
Once the two countertop pieces were cut to size we sanded the butcher block, starting with 80-grit sandpaper and stepping all the way up to 400-grit paper. This gave our butcher block a silky smooth feeling when running your hands across the countertop.
To bring out the rich, deep brown colors of the walnut wood, we gave the butcher block 4 coats of tung oil. The oil really helped not only to seal the wood from moisture, but also gave the wood it’s beautiful deep brown color.
Attaching The Butcher Block Countertop
The last step was the attach the walnut butcher block countertop to our kitchen counter frame.
To do this, we extruded a generous bead of silicone sealant all across our 1/2″ plywood counter top frame and simply sat the butcher block on top.
24 hours later our butcher block was firmly held in place.
Go Back: DIY Campervan Build Guide
Video Of Our Campervan Kitchen Counters
In the above video you can see our campervan kitchen counters live. (Turn on subtitles for English).
In the video, you can right away get a feel for our walnut butcher block counter top. And a few minutes later, we open up all our drawers or cabinet doors to show you what we store inside them.
Go Back: How To Build A DIY Camper Van