DIY Campervan Conversion: Tools You’ll Need for Your Build

Various Power Tools

If you’re considering DIYing your own campervan conversion, then it’s important to factor in the tools you’ll need for your build. Having converted 2 campervans; a Mercedes Sprinter and a Renault Master LWB, I came to appreciate the cost of investing in the right tools to get the job done properly.

Many people (myself included) start with a spreadsheet of all the materials they’ll need to build their van, excluding all the other essential items needed for your first trip. You’ve probably started thinking about solar systems, batteries, ceiling fan, wood paneling etc, but what many people don’t factor in is the cost of purchasing all the tools to do the actual conversion, and these can add up.

Following are some recommended tools you’ll need for your van build.

Key Takeaways

  • The essential power and hand tools you’ll need

  • Safety gear you’ll need

  • Affordably purchase and store conversion tools by using cost saving methods!

Essential Power Tools for Van Conversions

power tools

Power tools are the backbone of any DIY camper van conversion. They save time, energy, and help you achieve professional results even if you’re a beginner. Essential power tools for a camper van conversion include:

  • Circular saws

  • Jigsaws

  • Cordless drills

  • Orbital sanders

These tools make the process of transforming an empty van into your dream campervan much easier.

We’ll examine each power tool and its role in van conversions.

Circular Saw:

A circular saw:

  • Makes precise, straight cuts in wood and other materials

  • Perfect for crafting cabinetry, trim, and wall construction in van conversions

  • Has an adjustable blade and powerful motor

  • Can cut through various materials with ease

  • An indispensable tool in your DIY van conversion toolbox.

Jigsaw:

Jigsaws excel at cutting unusual shapes, rounded edges, and detailed work in a variety of materials. Their ability to make precise and curved cuts is essential for fitting and shaping components during the conversion process. Whether you’re cutting out intricate designs for your cabinetry or trimming excess material, a jigsaw is a must-have tool for any van conversion project.

Cordless Drill and Bit Sets:

A cordless drill with diverse bits is essential for drilling holes, driving screws, and assembling different components of your camper van build. It’s the ultimate necessity for any van build. The cordless feature allows you to work freely without worrying about tangled cords or finding a power outlet.

Investing in a high-quality cordless drill and a versatile set of drill bits will ensure you have just the drill for all your van conversion tasks.

Orbital Sander:

An orbital sander is vital for achieving a smooth, professional finish on wood surfaces during your van conversion. It uses a circular motion to sand surfaces, allowing you to get into tight corners and up against edges.

Whether you’re preparing wood for staining or removing imperfections, an orbital sander is a must-have tool in your van conversion arsenal.

Essential Hand Tools for Van Conversions

Hand tools

While power tools are indispensable in a DIY camper van conversion, hand tools play an equally important role. Some essential hand tools include:

  • Tape measure

  • Carpenter squares

  • Utility knives

  • Clamps

  • Hammers and mallets (because sometimes things need a little persuation.

  • Sockets and spanners

These tools ensure precise cuts, accurate measurements, and a professional finish.

We’ll examine each of these essential tools in detail, ensuring you have all the tools needed for your projects.

Measuring Tape:

A reliable measuring tape is essential for accurate measurements and precise cuts during your van conversion project. It helps you ensure that everything fits perfectly and saves you from any costly errors or redoing the work.

Tape measures are available in various lengths and materials, so make sure to choose a tape measure that is durable, easy to read, and suited to your needs.

Carpenter Square:

A carpenter square ensures straight lines and accurate angles when cutting and assembling materials for your camper van build. This essential hand tool is perfect for achieving precise edges, perfect angles, and exact measurements on plywood sheets, helping you create a professional and well-built interior.

Utility Knife:

A utility knife is a versatile tool for cutting various materials, such as insulation, trimming excess materials, and even opening packages or boxes. It’s perfect for precise and controlled cutting in tight spaces.

Make sure to keep your utility knife sharp and stored safely when not in use, as a straight edge is essential for precise cuts.

Clamps:

Clamps are vital for securing materials and holding them in place during your van conversion, guaranteeing a stable and precise build. They play a crucial role in securing wood or other materials in place while cutting, drilling, or joining them together, helping you achieve precise and accurate measurements.

Make sure to have a variety of clamps on hand to suit all your needs.

Additional Tools for a Comprehensive Build

As your van conversion project progresses, you may find yourself in need of some additional tools to make the job easier and more enjoyable. Kreg Jigs, hole saw kits, and wire cutter/crimpers are some of these additional tools that can help you save time and create a more polished look for your van conversion.

We’ll examine the benefits of these additional tools.

Kreg Jigs:

A Kreg Jig makes wood joining tasks easier, leading to a quicker and more polished build. It enables you to drill angled holes into wood, allowing screws to be inserted at an angle and hidden from view. This makes it perfect for joining pieces of wood together, such as building cabinets or installing wall panels.

If you haven’t used a Kreg Jig before, you’ll be amazed at how it can speed up your woodworking tasks. Kreg manufacture a number of jigs but the two I found so be the most useful:

Hole Saw Kit:

A hole saw kit is necessary for drilling accurate holes in different materials, for example, for recessed lighting or plumbing installations. It’s great for drilling medium to large-sized holes, like for setting up an Espar Heater or a plumbing/water system. Having a hole saw kit on hand will ensure you can drill holes for all your van conversion needs.

If you’re not a seasoned DYIer, you’d be surprised at how expensive a reasonable quality hole saw is. You’ll pay anywhere from $20 to $50 for a good hole saw at Bunnings.

Wire Cutter/Crimper:

Wire cutters and crimpers

A wire cutter/crimper is needed for trimming and joining electrical wires during your van conversion project. It’s an essential tool for installing the electrical system in a camper van, allowing you to easily cut and crimp electrical wires.

I’ve made the mistake of trying to use cheaper cutting and crimping tools, only to be frustrated when my connections fail.

Investing in a high-quality wire cutter/crimper will ensure your electrical system is set up correctly and efficiently. Again, these ain’t cheap: a good Kincrome crimper from Bunnings costs around $100.

Safety Gear for DIY Camper Van Builders

Safety gear

Safety should always be your top priority when working on a van conversion project. No use losing an eye, a finger or your hearing. Wearing the appropriate safety gear, such as facemasks, work gloves, safety glasses, and ear protection is essential for protecting yourself against potential hazards and ensuring a safe working environment.

Facemask:

Wearing a facemask is vital when working with chemicals, aerosols, or particulate materials to shield your respiratory system. It helps prevent inhaling harmful particles and maintains good air quality in the workspace.

Ensure you wear a facemask that provides adequate protection against dust, fumes, and other airborne particles during your van conversion.

Work Gloves:

Work gloves shield your hands from rough materials, sharp edges, and possible injuries during the van conversion process. They provide a barrier between your hands and any potential hazards, ensuring your safety while working with various materials.

Choose work gloves that offer cut protection, impact protection, grip control, and material thickness and padding for maximum protection and comfort.

Safety Glasses:

Safety glasses protect your eyes from debris and possible hazards while cutting and drilling materials for your camper van construction. They can protect your eyes from flying particles, dust, and other hazards, ensuring your vision remains safe and secure while you work on the project.

Make sure to choose safety glasses that are comfortable, provide adequate protection, and meet safety standards.

Optional Luxury Tools for Enhanced Efficiency

While the tools mentioned above are essential for a successful van conversion, there are some optional luxury tools that can improve efficiency and ease during your project. Table saws and compressor-powered nail guns are examples of these luxury tools that can make a difference in your van conversion process.

We’ll examine how these tools can improve your construction.

Table Saw:

A table saw offers precise, straight cuts but can be costly and risky; economical alternatives are available. Table saws are great for making precise cuts in plywood and other materials, but they require a significant investment and careful handling.

If you’re on a tight budget or don’t have the space for a table saw, a circular saw or a hand saw can also get the job done.

If you’re building your own cabinetry, try to get yourself a good second hand table saw. I was able to find a secondhand Makita table saw on Facebook marketplace for $350. It’s been worth every penny and (so far) I still have all my fingers.

Compressor Powered Nail Gun:

A compressor-powered nail gun can quicken attaching wood paneling and other materials. It eliminates the need for manual hammering and allows for quick and accurate nail placement.

I used a brad nailer with a compressor to a lot of my cabinetry and framing.

Tips for Affording and Storing Conversion Tools

Building a camper van can be an expensive endeavor, but there are ways to save money on tools and create a dedicated workspace for your project. Here are a few tips for purchasing and storing your conversion tools economically:

  1. Consider borrowing tools from friends or family.

  2. Invest in a starter kit that includes the basic tools you’ll need.

  3. Take advantage of holiday sales to get the tools you need at a lower cost.

  4. Look for second-hand tools at garage sales or online marketplaces.

  5. Create a designated storage area for your tools to keep them organized and easily accessible.

By following these tips, you can save money on tools and create an efficient workspace for your camper van conversion project.

First, research and compare prices of tools at different retailers, both online and in-store. This can help you find the best deals and ensure you’re getting the most value for your money.

Next, consider a storage system to keep your tools organized and readily accessible. This can include:

  • Pegboards

  • Shelves

  • Drawers

  • Toolboxes

Keeping your workspace tidy and organized will not only make your project more enjoyable but also help you work more efficiently.

Summary

In summary, having the right tools by your side is crucial for a successful DIY camper van conversion, make sure you take this into consideration when you’re costing out your van buld.

Remember to prioritise safety by using appropriate safety gear and taking necessary precautions while working on your project. With the right tools, knowledge, and dedication, you’ll be well on your way to building the perfect home on wheels.

Be sure you watch plenty of YouTube videos on how to safely use tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools do I need to build campervan?

You’ll need tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, saws, and rivet guns to build a campervan. With these essential tools in hand, you can confidently tackle any project that comes your way!

How much does it cost to kit out a camper van?

Kitting out a camper van can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the scope of work and the size of the van. Professional fit-outs can cost significantly more, with an average price of around $30,000, not including the cost of the van itself.

Are there any additional tools that can help with a van conversion project?

Yes, extra tools like Kreg Jigs, hole saw kits, and wire cutter/crimpers can be beneficial for a van conversion project, helping to save time and create a more professional finish.

What safety gear should I wear during my van conversion project?

Protect yourself and stay safe during your van conversion project by wearing a facemask, work gloves, and safety glasses.

How can I afford and store the necessary tools for my camper van conversion?

You can afford and store the necessary tools for your camper van conversion by borrowing from friends or family, investing in a starter kit, taking advantage of holiday sales, and using storage systems like pegboards, shelves, drawers, or toolboxes.

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