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Self Build Guide - 2. Workspace and Tools

Article by Peter Smith - Caravans Plus

This is part of a series of articles on building or rebuilding a caravan. You can find the whole series here: Ever Wanted To Build or Rebuild a Caravan?


Workspace Requirements

The space required to build a caravan at the minimum is 3.5m wide, the length of the caravan ( including the A-frame ) plus an extra metre. If you are building in the minimum space, you need to construct walls, ceiling panels and furniture modules on the caravan floor.

The height would be from 3 to 3.5m including rooftop air conditioning on an off-road caravan.

So a 6m (20ft) caravan needs a minimum working space of 8m x 3.5m, and the garage door must be big enough to get the completed van out. More space is better. Being able to build walls and furniture beside the chassis is preferable as you can add mudguards and floor coverings before making the walls.

Some people have built entire caravans outside, but this involves a lot of time adding and removing tarps.


Essential Tools

Without detailing every tool that all sheds would already include, the following will also be needed:

  • Portable belt sander
  • Oscillating multi tool eg Renovator
  • Air compressor with staple gun(s)
  • Angle grinder with alloy cutting wheels
  • Heat shrink gun
  • Router
  • Timber Drop saw
  • Left & right offset tin snips
  • Clamps
  • Set Square & Level

    If you are building your own chassis, you will also require an

  • Arc or Mig welder
  • Angle grinder
  • Metal Drop saw

    Desirable Tools

    The following are not essential, but make the building easier and more accurate.

  • Air operated pop rivet gun, or a manual pop rivet tool
  • Electric sheet metal nibbler
  • Bench saw to trim timber profiles
  • Saw Dust extractor (not really)
  • Soldering iron to secure electrical connections
  • Bench sander
  • Bench grinder

    Rarely Used Tools

    If you want to make a sheet metal front boot liner, or water tank protectors, or make your own mudguards:

  • A sheet metal bender

    If this is the only time you would use this, then these can be outsourced or made with flat sheets joined at the corners. Some DIY samples can be found on YouTube.

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