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Discussion Starter #1
Curious about recommendations for best plywood to use for cabinet construction for van buildout. I see most people recommending Baltic Birch, but are you using 3/4” or can you get away with 1/2” to save weight but maintain structural integrity?
 

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It depends on how it's put together and whether it will be supporting a lot of weight. For me, I'm confident with 1/2". However, a lot of hardware is made for 3/4" ply. A good frame faced with 1/4" would be fine, except it's a lot of work.

Almost any hardwood ply is going to work great. You can even get pre-finished ply in maple, birch, cherry, walnut, bubinga, zebra, bamboo, ash, well, almost anything. I suck at finishes so I like to spend a little extra and get pre-finished for a pro look.
 

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Used 15/32" for bench seats/table and 7/32" for cherry panels with 80/20 structure. Bed platform is composite with top layer 7/32", core of 1" rigid insulation and bottom layer indoor/outdoor carpet. 27" wide bed platform has 1" thick wood frame on edges and has center stiffener. Needed to add stiffeners to some of the 7/32" panels to make them rigid enough.
 

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Yep, 80/20 frames with panels are a great way to go! But not for the faint of wallet.

Another way to go is to get some used kitchen cabinets for cheap or free, and scribe the back to fit the walls. Old cabinets are often so fully dried that 3/4 weighs like new 1/2. Paint or refinish to taste, add practical hardware and countertop. Do NOT get pressboard ones, though!
 

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Yep, 80/20 frames with panels are a great way to go! But not for the faint of wallet.
80/20 is very expensive if you have them cut it to length and you use their connectors and fasteners. Money can be saved if you make your own connectors and buy the fasteners from a industrial fastener supplier.

Some info on how to do that:


Used kitchen cabinets are far less expensive than any other choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies so far. Does anyone see an issue with more "traditional" cabinet construction (no 80-20 framing) in 1/2" or would the lack of 80-20 or even wood 2x2 likely require 3/4" ply
 

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I bolted together my cabinets using 3/4 plywood and pieces of 2 inch aluminum angle, I probably could have used 1 inch angle but 2 inch angle is what I had laying around.
The 2 inch angle also makes it easy to bolt the cabinets to the wall or floor.
 

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I built a wood frame and used 1/2 Baltic birch plywood. Frame wood size is vary in different places. For upper cabinets I used mostly 0.75inx1.5in fir/pine and for back part that hang on the wall I used wide about 6inx1in piece of wood.
1/2 plywood worked well for me, but all my cabinets have frame. Upper cabinets were pretty easy task, but lower galley took a lot of time. And frame for lower galley is vary 2x2, 6x1 or so, and only in couple places for light drawers I used 0.75x1.5.
 

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I used 1/2 baltic birch (or apple ply) and 1" aluminum angle. I used a combination of counter sunk screws into the aluminum and counter sunk screws into the wood. Very strong and uses less space than a wood joint. It also survives a crash since the aluminum will bend but wood joints shatter allowing the pieces to join you at the front of the van.
 

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I will swear by my 1x2 pine cabinets and bed frame constructed with pocket hole joinery. If well designed you can get a lot of strength from little material/weight. It's darn quick too!; sort of like an Errector Set for wood. Any structural surfaces (counters, drawers, doors etc) are around 1/2" ply and anything else will be 5.2mm "luan" underlayment plywood for weight savings.

I did have to perform some tricky machining when I installed the Euro hinges in 1/2" plywood, but ended up using drawers instead. Next time I might look to see if there's a version for thinner doors so it isn't as much of a hassle.

I specifically avoided using MDF and 3/4" ply because it's just dead weight.
 

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I will swear by my 1x2 pine cabinets and bed frame constructed with pocket hole joinery. If well designed you can get a lot of strength from little material/weight. It's darn quick too!; sort of like an Errector Set for wood. Any structural surfaces (counters, drawers, doors etc) are around 1/2" ply and anything else will be 5.2mm "luan" underlayment plywood for weight savings.

I did have to perform some tricky machining when I installed the Euro hinges in 1/2" plywood, but ended up using drawers instead. Next time I might look to see if there's a version for thinner doors so it isn't as much of a hassle.

I specifically avoided using MDF and 3/4" ply because it's just dead weight.
I used continuous aluminum hinges without holes. Bought 3" with 1/4" pin from McMaster-Carr. Just cut them to length. Probably stronger and easier to use than individual hinges.

The first picture in the second row of pictures shows the full length aluminum hinge of the left side of the door. Hinge is between the 80/20 and the door:

 

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Something my carpenter dad showed me was that you can build complete wood cabinets/boxes using 1/2 inch high grade plywood that have no skeleton frame or bracing and still be extremely strong , he did this by joining everything together with Elmers professional grade wood glue , after the glue dries the cabinet becomes like one piece of wood , no joints!
If you ever was to break one of these cabinets apart you find that the wood fails before the glued joint does.
You would have a choice of using clamps until the glue dried or what I do is just hold everything together with drywall screws until the glue dries , using the clamps gives a better look because you won't have screw holes but for my use it's just quicker and easier to temporarily hold stuff together with the screws and the holes don't bother me.
Sanding does miracles too.

I kinda like the way people do the 80/20 skeleton technique with just a single board for a outer cover.
Never done it myself though.
 

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I'm using ½" Baltic Birch for the majority of the cabinetry.
Drawer bottoms, 1/4".
A few structural elements I go with 3/4"— but I try to minimize it.
I even have used 3/8" Baltic Birch for drawer carcasses.

It's plenty strong. I do use Titebond III wood glue, dados, Miller dowels, sometimes screws.
 

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Drawer bottoms, 1/4".

I even have used 3/8" Baltic Birch for drawer carcasses.
The easy way to get drawers is to buy them. I bought 5 dovetail drawers for about $300. Specify them online and in my case pick them up a week later.

 

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I used continuous aluminum hinges without holes. Bought 3" with 1/4" pin from McMaster-Carr. Just cut them to length. Probably stronger and easier to use than individual hinges.

The first picture in the second row of pictures shows the full length aluminum hinge of the left side of the door. Hinge is between the 80/20 and the door:

Looks easier than what I went through. What do you use as a door stop when closed? Mine closed on the front of the frame, not inside it.
 

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Looks easier than what I went through. What do you use as a door stop when closed? Mine closed on the front of the frame, not inside it.
Used Southco Mi-63:

Did have a problem with plastic latch rattling on the metal latch plate. Made 3/8" rubber plates to eliminate the rattling. The latch plate is the door stop. When closed the 3/8" rubber prevents the door from moving in or out.

The Southco latches are far better than pushbutton latches. Easy to open and the doors/drawers stay closed. Not expensive.
 
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