In our Lance 850 camper, there is a cabinet between the stove and the bathroom that is labelled as a wardrobe meaning it has a rod for hangers and no shelves. See number 3 in the above figure. I had been thinking about how to add custom built shelving using my meager woodworking skills. One of my design criteria was to make no permanent changes to the camper so if my shelving sucked, the shelving could be easily removed. No harm, no fowl.
One good thing about not making permanent changes to the camper is that I didn’t have to figure out where or how I should make holes and use screws or some other fastener to attach shelf hangers to the walls. The walls are thin and there are things behind the walls that I don’t want to damage like pipes and wires.
The solution I came up with relies on double sided hanging tape to hold strips of wood in place that either provide support for the shelf hangers or spread out the weight of the shelving on the floor of the cabinet/wardrobe. The basic design, shown below, will need some explanation.
The shelf hangers are attached to 1/4 by 2 inch wood slats using machine screws, washers and nuts. The washers and nuts are counter sunk in the wood so as not to interfere with the double sided tape. Double sided tape is used to keep the slats from sliding around. The shelves wedge the vertical shelf hanger assembly in so that the slats can’t come off the walls. Most of the shelf loading will be on the vertical wood slats. Since I wasn’t sure about the cabinet floor strength, I used slats on the floor to spread the weight over a larger area.
I got the idea of using these particular shelf hangers from shelving that Lance provided in my camper. The picture below shows Cabinet #6 (from the first diagram) with the Lance provided shelving that inspired my design.
The hanger itself is made out of a soft plastic and is attached to the walls using screws. The shelves can be moved by depressing the tabs above or below the shelf to tilt the shelf such that it can be removed, raised or lowered.
I reached out to Lance through Lance Priority Technical Support accessible through Lance Owners of America (LOA) forums to find out what the part number for the hangers was. Lance responded promptly and I ordered a number of hangers.
Description: Shelf Support Strip 18in 200/CTN
Part Number: HC400
I can’t tell you how nice it is to work with an RV manufacturer that makes support interactions so easy. Thank you Lance!
Getting the cabinet dimensions correct is important to the overall design. I carefully measured the cabinet using a tape measure. On another day, I measured it again. Then I bought materials. On yet another day I remeasured. Thankfully, the subsequent measurements matched the initial one. You never know.
In addition to measuring the inside of the cabinet, I also measured the Lance sourced plastic shelf hangers. The width of the shelf hangers affects the shelf width.
Measure twice, cut once.
After cutting the wood (slats and plywood shelves), I stained with an oil based stain and then finished them with polyurethane. After the finish had plenty of time to dry, I used steel-wool to smooth out the polyurethane finish.
The next step was to attach the shelf hangers to the upright wood slats.
I had to drill holes for each of the machine screws. I had to use a router to create space for the washers and nuts.
Working with the router was a bit less than ideal. I can see how using routers this way might be considered dangerous.
I wasn’t able to find the right length of machine screw. Because the machine screws stuck out from the slats, I had to use a Dremel Tool to grind/cut them off.
There were roughly 18 screws in each slat. Grinding the ends off of all the screws was really tedious. The ends of the screws heat up quite a bit when you cut them off this way. One burning red hot screw end fragment conveniently dropped into my shoe between my sock and the shoe and made it about half way down. That was a two burner accident. Burn number one was my heel. Burn number two was my fingers getting the thing out of my shoe.
The vertical slats were long enough that it took two of the shelf hangers end to end to span the distance. Since the hanger plastic is soft, I cut the over hanging hanger off using a kitchen knife.
Now that the the vertical slats were ready we are ready for installation.
I put double sided tape on the horizontal slats and set them carefully on the cabinet bottom. Next I cut some guide slats. After putting double sided tape on the vertical slats, I used the guides to ensure the spacing was the same top and bottom. The slides were installed vertically.
After getting all of the vertical slats/hangers in place, it was time to install the shelves.
The fasteners used in projects like this are dependent on the dimensions of the cabinet. I miscounted many times and as a results made a number of trips to the local Home Depot.
I wish I had used 3/8 inch plywood instead of 1/4 inch. The 1/4 inch plywood seems to want to bend a bit more than I’m comfortable with. The shelf hangers can certainly support larger shelf sizes.
If I wanted the shelves to support more weight or span a wider shelf space, I would consider using extra sets of vertical slats/hangers.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!
This is how the shelves looked when we left on our latest trip.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!