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Old 07-26-2012, 10:32 PM   #1
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Lumber recommendations?

So I overzealously bought a bunch of 2x4's at the lumberyard the other day, only to now be at the point where I'm thinking 2x3's would save some room (in general) and be just as good. I know many mobile homes (ie 'manufactured' homes) use 2x3's instead of 2x4's.

I plan on keeping the interior carpentry to a minimum, at first, and then deal with cabinets, drawers, etc later. I have seen that in some campers, the cabinets, drawers, countertop, etc are mounted against walls using very thin strips, maybe 1x1's. They're glued to the strips (I think) and the strips are screwed into the walls.

Are 1x2's screwed directly into a wall (or studs) sturdy enough to support a bunk bed? (I'm assuming there's a lateral 2x3 or 2x4 in the wall itself that the strips will go into) I've seen some pictures where it looked like 1x2's. Or should I go with something bigger? I've seen the approach where strips screwed into the walls support something framed (bedframe, countertop, etc) with a load on top of it.

I've also seen 1x1's (or 1x2's) in the back and side walls supporting a countertop. I'm hoping to find a way where I don't need to install cabinet framing to support a bed, counter, sink, etc and where I can do that later. I'd imagine on a countertop that there'd at least be some sort of horizontal 2x3 holding the front of the countertop/sink up - and that I could brace that 2x3 via corner braces against the side walls.

Is it overboard to make/buy angle braces to go on the front of bunk beds or countertops (when there is nothing holding the load on the front side, only the sides and rear)?

I have plenty of 1x2's and 2x2's, but it seems like maybe 2x3's should be on hand for more structural/load-bearing stuff. I feel like 2x4's are a bit bulky for a motorhome and 2x3's would be adequate.

I will end up browsing people's projects and copying the pictures to a folder where I can study and organize them later.

I suppose what I'm really looking for are strategies to cut down on lumber and properly support everything needed. What size lumber is used for where? How can loads/surfaces be supported without a large amount of lumber doing so? Cabinetry and drawers are being dealt with later, so I can't rely upon them to support anything. I'd also rather stick with cheaper lumber and minimize the joinery I need to worry about. I don't have a table saw or a router and I'd like to just stick with my miter saw and drill to do all the work.
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:05 AM   #2
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

FWIW, my framing is all 2x4s. I have 2 reasons for that: Structural strength, and they're generally cheap to buy.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:09 AM   #3
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

Ok, now I don't feel so bad. Thanks....

It took several hours to go through some of the projects on here, but I have some decent visual references to get ideas from....
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:13 AM   #4
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

in my first bus around 1990 or so, i used 2x4's. they worked well. now, on my 5th, for the walls and to build curved ceiling pieces, i used 3/4 marine plywood cut in strips 2 inches wide. i built a perimeter of that 3/4 material and usually added 1/4 plywood and 3/8 in sheetrock on the sides. It is super strong. I also did the walls the same way. The plywood is so that i can attach things securely to the wall, and the sheetrock helps a great deal for insulating and sound. It took a lot of extra time, but i wouldn't do it any other way. There are a few walls like in the kitchen and wood stove area that do not have that treatment, but have 1/2 in plywood backing only so that i could screw cabinets, etc to them.
of course, insulation was first for walls, and in the center of the walls i built.

i did use a few 1x2 pieces during construction but not many.
and i always predrilled the holes when attaching wood together, as well as when using screws to attach the walls to the ceiling. I have found that doing construction this way requires very few brackets, as the walls can be screwed both to the ceiling, the sidewall, and the floor after the wall perimeter is in place.
and, by using screws, you can easily move the wall if you change your floor plan.
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:19 AM   #5
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

Is it common to use plywood to temporarily cover walls, cabinets, countertop, etc?

I've seen some projects using plywood quite a bit and then worrying about some panelboard vaneer on top.

I was thinking maybe the plywood adds some strength to the panel board to help resist abrupt force, ie kids punching or kicking into walls. Or is the plywood under the panelboard overkill? Where I've seen it is mostly on interior (perpendicular) walls, cabinets, countertop (as a temporary surface).

I've also seen the use of plywood perhaps as cabinet framing (and cutting shapes out instead of complex joining of smaller pieces), maybe with 2x2's (or just angle braces) in the corners.

Ideas?
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:10 PM   #6
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

You sure have a lot of questions. Take the time (which will be a lot) to read all the bus building threads on this forum. All of your answers are there.
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Old 07-30-2012, 12:52 AM   #7
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

Good info from NoBusYet. I personally think most bus furniture is over-built but that probably isn't a big deal, weight wise. However, I'm cheap and like to see how far I can stretch my lumber pile. Besides, no matter how much lumber I have, it seems like I'm always making another run for more.

I'm using a modular approach in my shuttle bus. The cabinets are built like the stuff you'd have in your house, only with 3/4" oak plywood for strength. Each cabinet attaches to the next and should make the entire structure stiffer than any of the cabinets by themselves. I can build a pretty darn stiff wall-to-ceiling cabinet with just 3/4" plywood and glue. The fiberglass walls of the bus hold screws very well and I'm fastening the cabinets to the walls and ceiling with steel angle brackets. Accordian has some pictures on his thread (Best home yet) showing him hanging fom his plywood cabinets and those cabs. are only attached with angle brackets. That's strong enough for me.

You can get some really nice plywood for your furniture. Oak plywood looks great with just a few coats of polyurethane on it. Beadboard or T-111 siding looks great painted. Beadboard gives a more formal look and T-111 is more rustic. For stiffness, thin plywood does a great job. Most long-bus conversions have bunk beds built in and the simple addition of some decorative plywood on the ends of the bunks creates a nice wall to separate sleeping and living spaces.

Your horizontal bed frames need 2x4's for their stiffness when spanning the 6' plus a bed requires, but the vertical legs could easily be 2x2's because they are only loaded in compression. As NoBusYet said, cantilevering your bed frames from the wall probably won't end well.
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Old 07-30-2012, 01:51 PM   #8
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

When I say 'panel board' I mean the type of paneling used in mobile homes. 1/8th inch thick wood board that may have some texture to it. I wouldn't consider putting drywall in a bus - it's heavy, too thick, requires finish work, and might crack pretty easily over the months/years.

As for the bunk beds, I was thinking of securing two side walls to the bus wall at it's ribs, and then have a 2x4 go horizontally across the back so there are 3 sides the upper bunk are secured to. I don't think 3 sides would make it cantilevered. As I'm thinking this through, I think having a 2x4 in the side walls would offer enough support to mount the upper bunk to.
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:14 PM   #9
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

OK, I get what you're saying now. Screwing a 2x4 to the bus wall ribbing will give you a good, secure attachment. With your end walls also attached to the bus you should have a sturdy bunk. Use long wood or drywall screws to assemble the bunk and you should be good to go. Once the bunk is built in you can use pretty much what you want to cover the end walls since the covering doesn't need to be structural.
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:27 PM   #10
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Re: Lumber recommendations?

I used 1x4's for all of my framing for the bathroom area, the cabinets, and for attaching the side walls to help keep the weight down. But I don't have bunk beds and I think 2x4's would be the ticket for those since you need some structural strength for that area. Most of my walls have the 1x4's attached to the bus body, a layer of insullation, and then paneling board on top of that.
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