Tools & Materials

Aluminum Extrusions + Brackets + Bolts + Nuts
Plusnut Tool + Plusnuts + Bolts + Washers
Drill + Bits + Forstner Bits
Hole Saw
Drill Guide
Jigsaw + Blades
Tape Measure
Metric Ruler
Pencil & Eraser
Primer + Q-Tip
Magnet + Ziplock Bags
2 x ¾” 4’ x 8’ Birch Plywood

Do not use black oxide in anything, ever! I used black oxide M8 bolts for the frame and to attach the plywood. Some have began to rust after only a couple of months. Buy stainless steel everything!

If you go with aluminum extrusions, try to keep in mind the design of your overall framing system for drawers and cabinets too. My bed was a huge priority and I just wanted it done. I didn’t know what I wanted out of van garage cabinets for my electrical system and drawers at the time, and because of this I have to work around what I’ve already built from the extrusions when it could’ve been much simpler.

If I had to buy foam again, it would be only one or two inches of the gel memory foam.

Use blue Loctite threadlocker on all of the extrusion bolts. They’ll rattle out of the nut even when they’re tight.

I’ll be using flat head hex bolts in the future for wood attachment.

The main rectangle of my bed support. This section is narrow enough that it extends past the bulge of metal by the slider door and past the corners in the back of the van by the rear doors to fill the gap.

I oversized a few pieces of the aluminum extrusions to be safe and trimmed them down slightly with an angle grinder.

Scrap wood used as a fence for trimming a straight line with the jigsaw. Most of my van build has been an experiment, I’m learning as I go. One problem was with the surface layer of the plywood splintering when it’s cut, with larger teeth on the blade of the saw it gets pretty severe. The circular saw was especially bad but the trade off was that I got straight lines. The painters tape was an unsuccessful attempt to minimize the splintering on the edge.

The original plan was to use 3″ or 4″ wooden slats bolted into the extrusions, which would have been lighter and easier to build with more breathability for the mattress. After a week or two of weighing the pro’s and con’s I decided to go with plywood to support the foam completely.

Since I don’t have access to a drill press I found a drill guide with a stop that attaches to the bit. It took around 2 hours to map the bolt pattern for the extrusions and drill them with a forstner bit.

Three coats of matte water based interior Varathane, lightly sanded between each coat with 220 grit, and wet sanded the last coat with 1000 grit.

I tried pressing a piece of wood into the foam to get a clean line with a box cutter but the foam was too dense. Moved on to scissors but the edge wasn’t even, and then tried this fine tooth saw but it made a huge mess. Foam cutters don’t work. Using a serrated knife with long consistent strokes was the best solution for the cuts.