We have now finished insulating the back of the van and we’re starting the biggest part of the job, the part that is actually visible! The front of the van will be done a little later. The complexities of the shapes and the different curves are pushing us to go where we can make the most progress. We’re now at the stage where there is no going back: the walls.
At the very beginning of the project, we had in mind to finish the van in wood panelling. With time going by, and seeing the ton of work that it would be, we chose to use 3/8” pine plywood. As for the floor, it is also done in plywood, but a ¼” thicker so that it is more resistant, since we need to walk on it. We started by looking at panelling, which would have been quick to install, but it was too heavy for everything that we would have to put on it. Plywood is light and resistant, a real advantage in a refurbished van.
The biggest problem for finishing the walls was that the walls of a van are not straight along the whole length. How many times when we were insulating the walls we wished we had a cube truck instead! The walls are rounded in both directions, along the length as well as the height! We’re going to need a stroke of genius to install it correctly, and it was at that moment that we realized that the insulation could have been done better. That would have made installing the panelling easier.
After thinking about it, we came up with a plan. We will do the walls working with the height. We will attach the panels directly onto the steel structure that supports the whole wall. It will allow us to screw the planks in directly, without the screws sticking out on the other end. By using the height, we will have only one curve to deal with, the one that goes from bottom to top. By putting several planks along the length, we can avoid dealing with the curve on the length.
We’re going to have to take measurements after each plank, and be careful to watch for gaps so that our screws go in the right place and the panels can rest on the structures equally. We’ll also have to cut around the wheels and cover them up later.
Even though our pieces of plywood are relatively thin, they’re not thin enough to take on the shape of the van, even in one direction. We are therefore going to striate all the planks on the inside. It’s a technique that arches the wood to get it to curve more easily. The technique consists of going over the inside of the wood with a blade repeatedly, not enough to cut it in two, but just to take away one layer of thickness along the whole length. Thus, by creating a little gap, it will be easier to bend the wood. The walls are around 1 metre 40 cm high, we’re going to striate the planks in the middle, around 15 of them.
Also published on Medium.