If you don’t want to keep everything in boxes when storing things in the back you’ll need some form of organization. To maximize space I’ve decided to build two storage drawers that cover the right side of the back. The lower, taller drawer occupies the space from the rear door to the wheel arch while the longer but smaller drawer will go all the way from the back above the wheel arch. Here’s how the final product looks like.
Since the storage drawers are very long and potentially heavy, you’ll need some heavy duty drawer slides. The smaller ones that you know from your kitchen won’t do. This is also where most of the budget will go to – these drawer slides are not cheap. I’ve managed to get two pair of drawer slides from a seller in Australia for cheaper than any US seller, including air shipping. The brand is Freeslide [Update May 2018: Looks like the seller doesn’t sell these on eBay anymore but there are plenty more heavy duty drawer slides available. Let me know if you find a good quality brand]
I started the build process by measuring the optimal size of the drawers itself. Keep in mind that you’ll need some space between the floor and the drawers itself as well as some space left and right for the tracks and the frame that holds everything in place. The height of the upper drawer is given by the space between the wheel arch and the top of your storage area. Besides that, think about what you’ll want to store in these drawers and this will give you an idea how wide and tall each drawer needs to be. I’m carrying my tools, first aid kit and the kitchenware in the upper drawer and I can store wine bottles in the lower one – upright (wink, wink).
Once you have the exact sizes of the drawers I would recommend starting with the drawer boxes itself. It’s much easier to figure out the dimensions of the track frame itself if you have the drawers ready. The drawers I’ve made out of ¼” maple plywood and went fancy with dados and rabbets to end up with very sturdy boxes. I’ve also added dividers (again, think about what you want to store there) that add some strength to the drawers itself.
For the slider frame I’ve used some studs I had left over from another project. The individual pieces are mounted with pocket screws. Since the drawer slides are about two inches wide you can either decide to mount them directly on the frames and waste the space or, like me, use your table saw to create a channel to mount the tracks. Not only this will give you a close to flush mount but also the frame will be significantly lighter. Also the weight of the drawers itself will not rest only on the mounting points but on the full width of the frame. Here’s a picture of one frame with the slider tracks mounted.
Both the frame and the drawer boxes are painted with Polyurethane to make sure they last long time.
To install the whole setup in the van I’ve found it easy to lift the complete package into the back, move it around to find the optimal position and the screw one side into place. After that you can test the slides and then screw the other frame in place. That of course depends on the total weight of the drawer setup – mine was pretty easy to lift.
- Table saw
- Dado blade (not necessarily but you’ll save a lot of time)
- Heavy duty drawer slides
- Polyurethane paint