Van bench seat – Part 1 of X


Next up is building the bench seat. I’m not exactly sure of the exact measurements that I want, and I’m not exactly sure of the design, so I just decided to go ahead and build version 1 from some cheapo plywood and see how things feel before I build out the nice out of nice birch or whatever.

The idea is to have a bench where I can store the electrical system and batteries inside and also have some space for extra storage. I plan on putting 4″ of foam padding on the seat, as well as attaching a back with 4″ of foam padding. Just like regular RV/Camper dinettes. At this time I don’t think I’m even going to have a back as the bench seat will back up to the plywood of the wall, so I can attach the board with the 4″ of foam padding directly to that. Going to figure this part out once version 1 is in the van and usable 🙂

I made a quick planned design in sketch up. Final dimensions are a 58″ wide, 17″ tall and 21″ deep box with a 24″ deep top, leaving some space for your feet when you are sitting up straight. Also the 24″ seating surface should give plenty of room with 4″ of back padding. If I decide that I need another inch or two of seating surface, that’s where version 2 will come in. The electrical area is 32″ wide and the batteries will live on the floor with a shelf panel, hinged via piano hinge where the charge controller, inverter, and DC wiring sub panel will live. The whole top will also be hinged via a piano hinge to access both the electrical system as well as storage area. I left a 3″ piece where the hinge attaches. For the electrical shelf, that static 3″ panel is where the wiring will run through so tilting that panel up doesn’t mess with wiring lengths. For the very top, I figured that 3″ static piece will provide some structural strength.

Here is the Sketchup of the design:


And with the front and top hidden:


I got a start on building the bench seat today. Went over to HD Racing and picked up the plywood. I’ll be using glued Kreg pocket joints everywhere and already had that jig and materials. Super easy to build stuff with the Kreg joints and in a few mins I’ve got my outside box. The HD cutting is about +- 1/16″ of an inch, so I’ll do a bit of sanding tomorrow to better match level everything. 100 grit sandpaper in the electric sander should make that happen in just a few mins.


Tomorrow I’ll finish up the bench and the electrical shelf and start mocking up the electrical components. I’ll go through everything I bought for that and how it all ties together in the next post

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