Have I Finished my Projects?

September 16, 2019  •  2 Comments

Heck no I'm still getting thru lists!   But the house baseboards are done for this season, two short ends to do in the Spring and I have the boards for those, will prime and paint them so they can just go up when the weather warms.  Slowly I'm getting some of the required "every Fall" items taken care of.  My wood is ordered to be delivered this week, my chimney will also be cleaned this week  and I got some piddly stuff done in the carport to clean things up and get things secured to the wall.  Still have a mess out there but it will be taken care of before wood comes as that will be a cord and a half of stuff I need to split!

Meanwhile I wanted to take a break from REQUIRED work to do something fun.  I've spent many hours looking at people's van builds for ideas for my trailer.   While what I had in there was working,  when we evacuated in August and had more stuff and a parrot, well it was pretty tight.   I also have never been able to come up with something that would  work for more than one person to just sit and visit (we just stuck a lawn chair in there) and nothing table wise for eating or to have a nightstand.  Well my purchase of a Lagun system helped that but still felt like I wanted more floor space.

If you remember my trailer "living space" is 10' long by 70" wide with my toyhauler gate at the back.   I can sleep side to side but then it blocked using the gate for loading and such and that just wouldn't work.  Using the drop down door for unloading/loading expens and the cooler and such, is just so much easier.   So I got an "idea"!  HA!   Yeah and that percolated for weeks, and more weeks of measuring and sitting out there just trying to figure out if it would work.  Then - what did I need to build it as I just could not (and I tried) find anything that would do what I wanted or needed and fit in the space.  If I had a full 72" side to side or more it would have been a different story.  

One of the things I'd seen years ago was a slatted sliding bed solution, used in many vans.   I really didn't need anything THAT fancy but the premise was good.   I considered  just sucking it up and building custom drawers to use as seats as  I have to have storage  for our stuff (clothes and the like) as I have very few cabinets.   As I pondered and  my other projects piled up  I ditched that idea and decided to not be silly and use those drawers (super deep ones meant  for college kids under bed storage).   I also wanted to reuse the mattress on the bed as it is really comfy.   

I considered going and buying baltic birch plywood for the seats but 1, it is pricey and 2, then I had to deal with trying to cut straight pieces of it or decide before I started the sizes of EVERYthing to have them cut it (I'm not a straight line cutter at all).   Plus the only place with it is only open 5 days a week.  Second  plan, if I used 1x boards it would probably be more sturdy, put on the same framing system I had planned anyway (2x). Plus then I could just use the chop saw (my favorite saw of all times) and cut the lengths.

Yup, that's it, but I still needed a rough plan on design so I could reduce  trips to town.   Yup, all you builders out there know how THAT goes and when you are 15 miles out it is a bigger deal.

I planned on 1X4 boards for my "slats" but after seeing the price decided on 1X3 and actually I think that was better.  2X6s for the legs, well for 3 of the legs on each bench as a 2x6 wouldn't work between the back wall and the plug in on one side and the vent on the other.  2x4s worked perfect there. 

Design challenges - I wanted each bench to minimum be nice and tight to the drawers especially for height and width and I wouldn't be putting fronts on those.   2.  I have only 2 outlets in my entire living area, one  is way back by the tailgate on the left side.  I had to figure out how to still be able to use that while making the bench tight to the wall.  3.  My lift bed rails (bed has been removed but they remain) were my "front" limit  and I wanted my benches both tight  to those to help hold them in place.  4.  On the right side down in the corner by the floor is the vent, I needed to be able to reach into the bench from the top or back and get to that.

Hauled my doubled up drawers into the garage and started cutting.   The first bench went fairly well....and I did at least remember to dry fit the wall side as I went.  Chop saw and nail gun were on fire!  

Not too bad but the back side needed better support  and I couldn't use my 1X3s back there or it wouldn't all fit in space to the bed rail.   I discovered a stray piece of 1/2"X 6" craft board and it worked fine - yup another trip to the lumber yard cuz I only had one.    Then the final fitting and discovered the nails really were not holding very well so also got screws so when both were done I'd screw it all together - especially important for traveling in a bumpy trailer.

Next day I started bench #2.  And I got cocky!   Never a good thing.   I decided it wasn't going to be the same size as the previous.   I wanted 2 things, space enough to put the tri-fold dog gate that and a flip up top to put that in and out and get to the vent.  I also hoped it would be a place to stow the middle support boards for the bed.   I started sawing, got it part way together and realized I'd cut a bunch of pieces TOO SHORT!  This is what happens when you are building on the fly!   Luck would have it though I did  have enough 1x3s to fix that issue but the second  bench, I kid you not, took 2.5 times longer!   I also discovered that hinging the lid made those screws I bought even more important for stability.  Problem with hinging the lid though was that the 3 sided situation allowed it to move out of square, so one of my spare L brackets on the front underside of the lid fixed that issue.   Hey a girl needs to be creative!

Got both in the trailer for fitting and for determining the length of 1x3s I needed to "span the middle".   This would allow me to create a bed or couch across the back but remove for  access to the open tailgate for loading and unloading.

Wood work DONE, next was the painting.   By the time I brush primed these "slatted" benches I'd had enough and used a spray paint to do the final coat.  (Yes we all thought I learned my lesson painting the slats of the deck right?)

Oh and I ALSO needed to make sure I could slide the food box or the cooler between them!  That was the easy part.   The boards for the middle span needed to be secured when on - accomplished by stapling velcro to them and the benches.  If only it had all been so easy.  My hinged bench worked and the gate fit nicely and bonus the little teeny tiny metal table also fit!

Next up the mattress.   So the twin on the bed was 75" and as you know I had 72ish.   I also needed it in 3 pieces.  I  knew an electric carving knife  would make it super easy.  My Lord the Helena shopping bites again, I went to 3 stores (including Bed Bath and Beyond which I was SURE would have one) before getting online and finding Walmart had one.   I undressed the mattress to discover not only foam but a gel topper - that was a surprise but no biggy.  The knife worked SPLENDID!   Now I needed to make covers for each of the pieces.  I wanted something durable and cute but as you know yard goods are pricey and upholstery wasn't required.  Amazon to the rescue and bed sheets - a king set was $20, they were super cute and should be pretty durable.  I got REALLY lazy (I'll admit it I was ready to be done) and did not want to monkey around with sewing covers so quilting safety pins it is.  No one will see em as I just wrapped the foam up like a package and pinned.  And if it bothers  someone, THEY can volunteer to sew em!

The bigger bench  works great too because that is where the middle mattress part goes as a "back rest".   Pillows will be the perfect backrest on the other bench.

The next part of the project is the table.  My Lagun table I had was actually the top of my grooming table and  I didn't like the rough texture.  So the thinking started about a new table top.  I don't need a big piece but wanted something that would be wood.   Hmmmm maybe I could scour the thrift stores and find a nicely topped end table - that'd be about the right size.   First stop and BINGO - there sat a little bitty old all wood school desk and the top was in great condition - $20.  No finishing required (less work less $).   It is ready to go.  My other hiccup in the project is that I could not in any way shape or form get the stupid mounting bracket for the table system OFF the metal bed frame I put it on (guess I put it on there real good)!   So ordered a new one, no  wait 2.  I am pretty sure I can use 2 brackets, one on the bench seating and might look to mount one up towards the kitchen to allow for a bit of extra counter space when needed.  Will see about the latter but here are the shots of the completed project and some of the configurations WITH the new table.

The last shot is probably how things will ride with the table keeping pillows in place and the center cushion helping to keep the cooler in its spot.   It gets really bouncy back there so I will try it and adjust if needed, I figure I can always use the bed rails on each side to strap in a barrier if needed.

This is pretty much how I feel right now

My dogs are paying the price for my many projects to be finished - no time no training and then they make ME pay the price by being total brats!    Hoping we all can hang in there without  killing each other till midish October then back on track to train!


Far Side(non-registered)
Wow I am so impressed, what a great way to make the most of your space...I was picturing you with an evil smile cutting apart a mattress! :)
Wow you are one handy woman . You have done an amazing job.
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