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How To Make Efficient Van Drawers?

16 November 2021

Van drawers are an effective strategy to maximise the space and efficiency of your mobile workshop. Van drawers need to be sturdy enough to hold heavy items. But they also need to be lightweight enough to keep your load weight down. 

With our work van shelving ideas, sliding drawer systems can be built in a variety of depths and sizes. No drilling is required, but van drawers require precise measurements. They are one of the most difficult features to install in a works van.

The first place to start is to decide which material is best for your needs. You can back van drawers from either steel, aluminium or wood. Your choice will be determined by weight and cost. 

  • Steel: This is a good option if you want metal drawers but for less cost than aluminium. Whilst steel is good sturdy steel and will last for many years, it is heavier than other options and could impact weight limits. 
  • Aluminium: Thanks to its lightweight, aluminium is a popular choice for van racking. If you have a lot of equipment in your van and need to watch your load weight, aluminium is the best option. The cost for aluminium is higher but it’s worth the investment for form and function.
  • Wood: Wood is also a popular choice because it falls in the middle of the two metals. It’s lighter than steel but not as strong. But stronger than aluminium but not as light. If you like the look and feel of wood, want a choice of finish and are looking for cost-effective solutions, this is a good option.

Cutting Your Van Drawers To Size

The most crucial part of how to make van drawers is getting the measurements right. There are a few key pointers to remember.We will assume you have already installed van racking ideas in order to positionate your drawers.

That is the easy part, although it should be planned efficiently so you leave yourself with a sufficient amount of drawer space.

To get the correct measurement for the front and back, fix the sliders and measure the distance between the sliders. This is important otherwise you are likely to make the width of your drawers too long. 

We also recommend leaving off 1/16th, so the rollers are loose enough to pull in and out. If the measurement is too tight the drawers will not have a smooth action. 

Then take the measurement from the front edge to the back of the drawer space. The front should fit plush to the edge of the frames. 

Assemble The Van Drawers

This is how to make van drawers fit plush; remember that the front will be sandwiched between the two edges. To avoid cutting the front and back sides too long, measure the width of the sides.

  • The easiest way to do this is to stack on top of the other and measure them both together. You then need to subtract the total width of the sides from the front and back edges.
  • So, if the distance from one slide to the next is 30-inches and the sides are 1/2 inch each, the cut for the front and back edges needs to be 29-inches. 
  • Cut the drawers to size – ideally using a table saw. Table saws cut cleaner edges. 
  • The next step is to add “dado” joints to the corner edges of each of the drawers. These are the slots that enable you to join the drawers tightly without relying solely on glue and nails.
  • Make the cuts one-half of the material thickness.
  • Leave the drawer for ten minutes to allow the glue to set. Slide the bottom of the drawer along the pre-cut grooves.
  • Then add the back drawer. Secure the joints with a 1 1/4 nail. 

And that’s how to make van drawers for your mobile workshop. But, if you have any questions or need further support, do not hesitate to contact us. 

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