Current Guide

Van Builder's Toolkit - Camp Quirky Workshop

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Vanlife Conversions Team
May 15, 2020
A picture of a man using a power tool

We were delighted to be asked to deliver this workshop on essential van conversion tools at the virtual Camp Quirky this year. The workshop took place online due to COVID-19, rather than in the field and we look forward to delivering other workshops in October at the rescheduled festival!

For those of you who missed it, here is our selection of key tools for every van builder:

In this workshop I will share the most commonly used tools which are essential for self builders to make life much easier throughout your conversion.

Many people are on a budget or may not have done much DIY before so will be starting from scratch in the tool department. Hopefully this session will help clarify which things will be the most valuable for you to purchase and what will be a worthwhile investment.

Core items

- Jigsaw, drill, tape measure

These items are worth getting right at the start as you will use them in pretty much every aspect and are bound to come in useful for future projects too.


- Straight edge and clamps

We use everyday for making straight cuts on sheet material eg plywood, MDF, Celotex boards so are ideal for creating walls and cabinetry. An aluminium straight edge is preferable to using an off-cut of wood as it is less likely to bow.

- Scribe tool

A scribe tool is used when cutting curved shapes to match the profile of van walls. In a van there are very few straight walls and 90 degree angles so a scribe tool can help units sit flush. They can also be made very easily by drilling a few holes in a piece of stick timber with a pointed end.

- Pocket Jig

A pocket jig is great for building carcasses as it joins 2 pieces of timber together at 90 degrees eg stick timber or 18mm MDF to give neat and strong finish.


- Pipe slicer

Pipe slicers cut plastic pipe work for the water system and copper pipes for gas system providing a clean cut without distortion of the pipe, therefore generating a water/gas tight seal

- Adjustable spanner and grips

These tighten compression fittings to form gas tight seal


- Cable strippers from klein tools

These accurately strip insulation from cable preventing damage to the copper conductor, useful for when terminating cable into appliances eg installing LED lights or into the fuse board. They have a dedicated cutter for each size cable.

- Multimeter

This machine tests if voltage is present in the circuit. It is handy for fault finding as it can identify where there has been a break in the circuit eg blown fuse or incomplete termination and they are relatively cheap.

If budget allows…

- Router

A router gives a professional finish to all carpentry, allowing you to round over edges, create grooves in wood and add various finishes to cupboard doors.

-Skill saw

This is more accurate than jigsaw for cutting straight edges and enables you to do plunge cuts eg cutting sink out worktop

So they are my top buys to get you started. Remember, you can often borrow or hire tools if you don't think you would use them again.

Follow the progress of my builds and other top tips for self builders on Instagram @vanlifeconversionsuk.

If you would like support with your self-build, get in touch as we offer consultancy to help you do as much of the conversion yourself.

Vanlife Conversions Team
May 15, 2020

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