Rolls the Slightly Self-Destructive Carpentry Enthusiast

T’was from deep within that vanlife awoke in me a zealous chippy. Rolls the Slightly Self-Destructive Carpentry Enthusiast, always on the lookout for a new woodworking project despite having several on the go already. 

I fucken love working with wood. Sam and I discussed it today, agreeing that wood is the answer to humankind’s against-all-odds survival over the past millennia. I’m paraphrasing a conversation here but I think we can all probably agree; when the sabre-toothed tigers were hungry back in the day, wood was a critical component of the structures that helped keep them out. 

We were working on a little secret project today, I won’t say exactly what but I will divulge that we knocked together something pretty speccy indeed. Our tedious planning session - fastidiously drawn out in both senses of the phrase - paid off handsomely. Upon it’s completion, despite being hungry and tired I had that specifically fulfilling sense of satisfaction looking down at our finished handiwork.

Contentment of this type is both particular and familiar, and I actively seek it out from jobs like this. It encourages me to take pleasure in this kind of work, as I know it is always reflected in the finished product - like everything else in life.

It cast me back to building in my van. 

I’ve always taken huge enjoyment from planning and completing little DIY projects. Converting a work vehicle into a miniature studio apartment was definitely my biggest yet, with each iteration of the interior a larger and more technically-refined job than the former. 

Key features of the carpentry are as follows:

  • False plywood floor
  • hinged double bed, storage beneath, headboard w. latched viewing window trapdoor
  • built-in wardrobe
  • touch-activated LED lights
  • plywood cladding on walls, roof and doors, utensil storage display incl. net lockers
  • metal-framed kitchenette incl. water storage, access cupboards, hinged and removable benches
  • storage unit ergonomic for specific auxiliary items, incl. shoe racks, utility hardware baskets, hat rack, hinged benches, laundry chute, dual wetsuit buckets.
  • storage hatch above cab

I got quite stressed halfway through the build and came close to losing the plot, my wellbeing becoming a bit scattered over the interim period. I had become a little too fixated on small details, somewhat losing sight of the simple foundations that the entire project was founded upon - good fortune and childish whim. 

Rolls, living in the van is like traveling, being on holiday. You’re about to go on holiday! Pull yourself together! Keep your head down, you know how good that holiday was and is about to be again.

Thankfully this train of thought arrived during a day of forced reflection whilst I was waiting for Boz’s insides to have some mechanical TLC. It was precisely after this I returned to my senses and regathered the correct perspective.

Kicking back into gear meant the ply went a bit patchwork, some tiny bits of insulation are still visible, some trapdoors aren’t quite as perfect as I’d like them to be. But it all works fine, and I enjoy the resulting aesthetic as a reminder of the carpentry process. That last week of building, I very consciously cranked up the voice in my head yelling about how exciting this all is and how lucky I am to be able to do it and how amazing its going to be. You know it will be worth it. 

It totally was. 

This day I spent down at the beach in the rain building the bones of the interior. Al and Sam came down halfway through and we had a nice little log session before continuing. Super stoked to have a mobile workstation!!!