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Useful Tools To Build A DIY Camper Van

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What are the most essential tools for a campervan conversion? Do I need to purchase every single tool or are there some tools I don’t need to buy?

In this article we will review many of the tools we used to convert our own DIY campervan. Some tools we used every day and consider them essential and some other tools we used sparingly and didn’t find them worth the cost.

One of the first steps to converting a campervan is getting the right tools. Let’s get started!

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    4 Essential Tools You must own for your van build

    These are the tools that we used every day and were crucial to converting our campervan. If we were building a second campervan without any tools, we would buy these items again in a heartbeat.

    1. Power Drill

    From drilling in screws to boring out holes, having a power drill is pretty self-explanatory.

    I went to Home Depot and purchased the cheapest drill at the store and it has provided me with more than enough power to use in every facet of our campervan conversion.

    We drilled through hard wood, plastics, and even through the van’s sheet metal frame. Our power drill performed like a champ!

    Helpful Complimentary Accessories

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    2. Jig Saw

    The jig saw’s ability to make curved cuts make this tool indispensable during a van conversion. And with the right additional tools, a jig saw can make OKAY straight cuts, if needed.

    We used our jig saw to cut through rigid foam board insulation, plywood, butcher block hard wood, and even cut through long sections of our van’s sheet metal frame to install our rear windows.

    Having a jig saw is absolutely a campervan conversion requirement.

    Helpful Complimentary Accessories

    3. Framing Square

    Being able to draw and cut straight lines is crucial for a solid van conversion. We used our framing square on a daily basis to create straight lines and accurate 90-degree angles on a daily basis.

    Used as a straight guide, you can pair the framing square with a jigsaw to make acceptable straight cuts.

    4. Long Clamps

    These long clamps were indispensable when fabricating our interior furniture.

    When piecing together our counter frame and upper cabinets, we often used wood glue to initially join two pieces of plywood. So these clamps were crucial to holding together these pieces of wood while the glue dried.

    One long clamp is useful, but we would recommend getting two or three.

    Recommended Tools, But Not Required For A Van Conversion

    The below tools are of varying degrees of useful and several of these tools I loved using. But they weren’t required to successfully build our campervan.

    Table Saw

    We initially balked at purchasing a table saw during the 1st half of our van build and instead used our jigsaw to cut straight edges. But we ended up purchasing a table saw for the 2nd half of our van build and loved it. Our straight edge cuts were better and took less time.

    We really regret having not used this tool right from the start of our van conversion.

    There’s a bit of a learning curve to using this powertool and it’s dangerous if used improperly. But once you’re proficient, you can cut very accurate and straight lines all day long.

    And in my opinion, it’s easier to use and quicker to set up than a circular saw.

    Helpful Complimentary Accessories

    Electric Sander

    The electric sander is an affordable tool to quickly sand down wood. But generic sand paper sheets and some elbow grease work just as well, especially if you’ll be painting your wood afterwards anyway.

    Helpful Complimentary Accessories

    Miter Saw

    Awesome chop saw that makes straight cuts quickly and easily. We used our miter saw when cutting wood beams for our ceiling and furniture.

    Great for when you need to make cuts less than ~5″ long. So because of this, a miter saw has limited use in a van conversion. Nice, but not required.

    Helpful Complimentary Accessories

    Kreg Tools - Pocket Hole Jig

    Creates strong 90-degree wood joints when screwing together two pieces of wood. The Pocket Hole Jig was especially useful when fabricating our drawers, upper cabinets, and counters.

    This tool is easy to use and does the work quickly. Not absolutely necessary however, as you can achieve a similar result with straight in screws and wood glue.

    The jig is also expensive for what you get.

    Helpful Complimentary Accessories

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    Kreg Tools - Drawer Slide Jig

    The Kreg Tool Drawer Slide Jig is an extremely helpful tool to correctly align your drawer slides so that your drawers can smoothly attach into the counters.

    Assembling drawers and counters is tricky because measurements have to be extremely precise.  And the drawer slide jig just helps to make the whole drawer fabrication process simpler, especially for novice wood workers like ourselves.

    Biscuit Joiner

    I bought the biscuit joiner more as a curiosity than a necessity. A biscuit joiner helpes to create stronger right angle joints between two plywood pieces.

    It’s a limited use item and we only used the joiner only to construct the frame of our counters and upper cabinets.

    The Pocket Hole Jig would be more useful in similar situations.

    Circular Saw

    In our entire van build, we used the circular saw only once to cut our butcher block countertop to size. I had simply rented this saw for the day at Home Depot.

    The circular saw makes great, strait cuts. But the set up process is a hassle and our table saw can do pretty much everything that a circular saw can do.

    We never missed not owning a circular saw once.

    Thank You For Reading!

    We’re Yuko and Eric! We both grew up in Asia ( Japan & Hong Kong ), we left our jobs and homes in 2018 and started traveling full time from Canada to Argentina in our self-converted camper van since end of May 2019. “Asobo” means “Let’s play” in Japanese. We named our site “Asobolife” because the life is always uncertain and we live only once so it’s important to always keep positive, playful mind and enjoy the moment you are in the present. We also want to use this website to share our road trip and van building experiences to inspire our readers. We hope you enjoy!

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