Building a Bed

Now the fun part begins — converting my van into a camper. One of the big reasons I’m doing this is so that I have somewhere comfortable to sleep at night, not a deflated air mattress on the ground. A bed is the largest part of my setup, so it was the first thing I built. Everything else will fit around it.

Since my overall layout is still in flux, I decided a flexible bed design would be best. I based this on an article at for a retractable slat bed. I won’t go into the details of how to build it here, since the article already does.  The feet are 20 inches tall, just tall enough for the storage bins I picked up to fit under the bed. The frame is six feet long, and each half uses two-foot long 1×3 slats. (The rest of the frame is 2x3s.)  Extended, the bed is almost as wide as the back of the van. Retracted, it’s just over two feet wide. I have a full-size futon on the way to go on top of the frame. No doubt I’ll be adding some supports to the back of it to support the futon in sofa mode.


When fully extended, this will fit two people. When I’m alone, which will be most of the time, I’ll leave it in sofa mode, and set up a table or something on the passenger side of the van. I may install permanent storage eventually, but there’s no harm in the bed frame having the capability to extend farther than it actually can due to other stuff in the way.

Right now I have a small folding table set up there. It looks like I’ll have no problem setting up my ham radio stuff there for rallies while sitting on the sofa. There is also a fair bit of room toward the front of the van for me to set up another storage/work surface, likely for food and/or my secondary battery. The hooks for the old seats are great places to strap down the new furniture. I can remove any that remain in my foot/knee area once I have it set up.

Overall, it’s a great start.



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