Kitchen Build Notes

Kitchen parts:

4 ea.: 1/4-20 panel nuts, lock washers, bolts for mounting the kitchen to the van door

4 1” diameter x ½” thick mounting hard points

4 1 ½” diameter flat washers

3 pairs of 3” x 1” hinges for the upper doors

1 pair of 3” x 3 ¾” strap hinges for the stove door

Enough ½” long wood screws to replace the ones that come with the hinges, which are too long. Get the same diameter size of course.

12” metal strap for spice box opening

Jack chain

2 ea. 10-24 x ¾” long eyebolts/washers/nylock nuts for the bottom of the chain. Use a thin cut off wheel on a dremel or angle grinder if needed to open up the eyebolt so you can slip the chain onto it, or just open up the chain and close it around the eyebolt. After installation, cut the excess screw length off flush to the nut.

2 ea. #8-#10 x 1” pan head screws, nuts, and washers to attach the top end of the jack chain to the inside side walls of the kitchen (diameter to fit your chain). After installation, cut the excess screw length off flush to the nut.

Door latches. Your choice of many styles, or you can do what I did which is use Amerock Polished Chrome Zinc Roller Catch from Ace Hardware on both ends of each door, plus my homemade positive latch. The roller catches are convenient when cooking to be able to close and open a door easy, but they are not strong enough for travel, hence the additional positive catch.

Kitchen Build Notes

Overall dimensions check
I designed the bottom section of the kitchen to fit the standard and widely available Coleman propane camping stove. These are awesome stoves at any price, and they are quite affordable. They really crank out the power too.

I designed the height of the “propane shelf” to, duh, fit the height of standard 1 pound propane bottles. I carry 3 cans on the right side of the shelf, then I have a couple of dividers across the rest of the shelf space to keep things from tipping over and making a mess (you can guess how I learned that lesson…three times…).

Check the dimensions of the Top Back and the Top Shelf. Because they are in an angled area, double check before you cut.

Start assembly by first attaching the lower back board to the van door. Drill 1/8” holes through the back board and the door panel so they match (for the mounting holes). Double check that my hole location dimensions fit your van door ok and work out for the length of the panel nuts you might have sourced.

Open up the holes in the door to accept ¼” bolts. Use panel nuts, also called clip nuts or U-style nuts in the door. Open up the 1/8” starter hole in the plywood back board to 1” diameter using a forstner bit (best, cleanest hole), spade bit (fast but not the cleanest hole), or step up through half a dozen twist drill sizes until you get to 1”.

I used a lathe to cut off ½” thick slices of 1” aluminum round bar to create the hard points that go in the board, and I sliced off washers out of 1 ½” round stock to create washers that go over them.

You are of course welcome to find your own hard point solution. I’m not sure it is strictly necessary. I think you could just drill through the board ¼” diameter and hang the kitchen directly on the bolts, but I was concerned that the kitchen, when full, is a lot of weight that would be carried on the small diameter of the ¼” bolts and might hog out the holes in the wood if they weren’t large and round. Your choice. If you start with ¼” holes and they get elongated, you can always upsize with a hard point.

Spice Box

A suggestion is to use a hole saw and cut a hole in the middle of the back board where the spice box goes. Mount the back board to the van door. Reach through the hole and trace the door panel’s opening on to the back of the back board. Now take it off the van and glue the spice box to the back of the back board so that it will fit in the hole in the van’s door panel. Then use a ¼” copy router bit with the bearing on the end (the end away from the drill chuck) and open up the back board to the inside surfaces of the spice box. If you don’t have a router, that’s fine, just cut out the square opening to fit the inside dimensions of the spice box first, and then glue the box on to the back of the back board.

I used a scrap bit of 1/16” thick metal strap over the lower third of the spice box opening to keep the spices in.

Pin and Glue

Next pin and glue the sides on, and then the shelves. I used a pin gun, but one could use wire brads and a small hammer and Titebond 2 wood glue.

Note that you may choose to not pin and glue the middle shelf of the top pantry area (called Top Shelf on the plans) and instead cut rectangular pieces of plywood as shelf risers that would go underneath it at the ends. I did that not sure if I would like the height I chose, but it turns out the height is pretty much perfect and next time I would probably just glue it in, but it’s an option for you to consider.


The doors in the design fit ¼” short at the top of each door when closed to accommodate the homemade latches I used. If you use a different latch system, you may choose a different fit for the doors, so check your own dimensions.

Install the hinges with the door held open in the same plane as the shelf it is attached to, with it firmly up to the shelf’s edge, Screw the hinges on. Now when you open the door, it will be self supporting in the open horizontal position. Sure, it’s not super strong; it won’t hold much weight, but it seems entirely adequate for moving stuff from the pantry out onto the door-become-shelf extension.

If you want to make it super strong in the open position, you could install retracting aluminum bars underneath the shelf like I designed into my sink with the pull out work surface supports.

Bottom right corner

The bottom right corner needs to have a bit of relief to clear the van’s door opening when the door is closed. What I did was built that area square, and used a hand saw to chop out the corner to fit after the kitchen was built. Or, you can follow the plans and remove a notch to begin with, but check the dimensions for your fit to make sure it will clear.

Wood finish or paint?

I finished my kitchen with Minwax Antique Oil Finish. I was glad I chose that method after having the dish soap tip over and make a giant congealed mess, and the maple syrup tipped over not once, but twice, which dried crusty mess I was able to remove with aggressive scraping with a paint scraper. After each damages, a wipe of oil and it looks like nothing happened. I was also concerned that paint remains a bit sticky for quite a while.

Next time though, I might use paint. If you use paint, I would recommend carding lightweight spackle into the wood to fill the grain and any imperfections, then latex primer, then enamel paint. Then maybe let it cure for a week or two in a hot space before closing the doors (paint to paint sticking).

Final Installation
Put whatever window black out or insulation you want to cover up the van door’s window (if you have one) before hanging the kitchen. I use a piece of Walmart black out curtain fabric held to the window frame with neodymium magnets, and I’m using cut pieces of Harbor Freight moving blankets as insulation.

Check the operation of the kitchen with the door closed, for inside use. In my van build I have shelves along the driver’s side and the big pantry door of the kitchen didn’t quite clear the shelving unit, so I had to make a little square notch cut out at the top corner of the door. You may also need to make some little adjustments to accommodate your own build.