Quick change cabinets

Our cabinets can be bolted in and out of the van as we need them. The plan is to keep them in place most of the time, but it’s great to be able to reconfigure the van as we need it.

We collected our new air ride driver and passenger seats from the shipping terminal rather than paying an additional $95 to have them driven 45 minutes to our house. That meant we had to take out the cabinets so that the pallet that the seats were on could fit in to the sliding door area.

Seats being put into the van by a forklift truck

We just put the cabinets back in again ready for our next trip. While they were out, we added countertops and painted the aluminum corners black to better match the look of the rest of the van.

12v TruckFridge in cabinet

It takes about 30 minutes to remove all of the cabinets. The fridge (six screws) and microwave (three screws) have to come out of their surrounds, and we have to take a couple of drawers off their quick-release sliders. That gives us access to the two wall bolts and two floor bolts per cabinet.

Cabinet floor bolts

Once the nuts are unscrewed from the bolts, the bolts clip out of the Steadymate L-track and the cabinet is free.

Plow bolt for cabinet fixing in l-track

At that point, the cabinets can each be lifted out of the van and stored. They are not light – it’s a two-person job – but they are maneuverable.

18 Replies to “Quick change cabinets”

  1. Amazing build. Great write up. I use you as one of my go to resources as I build. Was wondering where you found your l-track mesh bags?

  2. Where did you find the extra long fastening bolts for the l-track? All the stock bolts are only 1 in long which is too short.

    1. Mark, we got our bolts from Tacoma Screw. They will deliver, or you can pick the stuff up if you have a local store.

      #216-407-1 M6-1.0 x 30mm (1-3/16″) Metric Flat Head Socket Cap Screws — Type A2 Stainless, Coarse, 100/PKG
      #218-106-1 M6 (1/4″)-1.0 Metric Full Nylon Insert Lock Nuts — Type A2 Stainless Steel, Coarse, 100/PKG
      #130-306-6 1/4″ x 1-1/4″ 100% Melt/Mfg Domestic Fender Washers – 304 Stainless Steel, 100/PKG

      I’ve listed the 30mm bolts (just over 1″) but we also used 50mm bolts to go through the floor.
      The metric stainless bolts have a slightly different countersink angle to the imperial ones, but for the types of uses most people put L-track to, it’s probably not a big issue. Use a good grease or anti-seize on the threads and between the bolt head and the aluminum track. You want to prevent thread galling with the stainless bolts and nuts, and galvanic corrosion between the stainless bolts and the aluminum L-track.

      I don’t think Tacoma Screw sell imperial-unit stainless flat head screws. At least, they didn’t when we bought ours. And anyway, it’s a metric van, right?

  3. I should have checked the website prior to responding. Looks like the parts you listed were for attaching the L-Track to the van. What I am looking for is a longer bold for the l-track that is then used to fasten the cabinets to the l-track. It looks like you took a standard L-Track Threaded Stud Fitting and replaced the bolt with a new longer bolt (with the square fitting between the bolt head and the start of the threading).

    1. Ah, yes – sorry Mark. Those are Plow bolts. They have a flat head, a square section just under the head, and then the threaded portion. They are similar to carriage bolts but without the domed head.

      If you find one with the same thread size as the L-track bolts you should be fine. Sorry, I don’t have a link for those. We found them at our local hardware store.

  4. Thanks for sharing your build with us; it’s been a great resource for ideas. Can you share your plans for the 80/20 cabinet build details for your refrigerator? I read your link for the sink cabinet, but trying to figure out how you built the drawer above the refrigerator. I’m planning on using 80/20 for all my cabinets. Thanks again. Dave

    1. Dave, our refrigerator cabinet is not built out of 80/20. We plan on rebuilding it soon, and we’ll share the plans when we do. Drawers are an issue when you’re using 80/20!

    1. Keith, we did make it (with help from a cabinet maker neighbor) but we don’t make any components to sell, if that’s what you mean.

      We’ve subsequently replaced all the cabinetry with very similar units made from 80/20 aluminum extrusions and bamboo panels. I keep meaning to post about that and perhaps share the design plans we used.

  5. This is a great thread, nice work. I’m a cabinet maker and helping a friend build out a van for trade work with custom inserts. I have been working through ideas to attach to L-Track for modularity and your thread was a good visual to where I was going. You have a piece shown inside the bottom of your refrigerator cabinet that looks to be a stainless grommet or retainer of some type where the bolt comes into the cabinet from below and that retainer is round and recessed into the floor of the cabinet. Can you share what that part is that you are using there? Greatly appreciate your time!

    1. Nick, those mounting plates are actually just recessed cabinet handles with a hole drilled through them. We used these from Amazon but they were a little bit flimsy. A thicker gauge steel would have helped.

      We’ve actually subsequently changed out the cabinets for ones we built with 80/20 frames. They were wonderful cabinets, but just weighed too much. Writing about that update is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while…

      1. Ofcourse they were, that’s simple enough! Thank you for the feedback. I’m not to sharp on 80/20 but seems like a popular way to go. Would love to understand how you constructed a removable cabinet from it. We are in the plotting and planning stage and nothing is off the table yet. We are working towards a custom tool storage solution adapting to multiple brands of storage containers. This should be fun!

        1. The 80/20 is structurally very rigid if you use the right connectors, so it’s easy to create a skeleton from the extrusions and then (in my case) slide 1/4″ ply into the channels in each extrusion to create panels.

          But if you’re used to working with wood, then I’d stick with that. You can create a more elegant solution at a cheaper price for sure!

  6. Hi there. Love your build. So curious how you did the drawers and the fridge using the 80/20. Are you still planning to write up how you did those?

    1. Don, it’s been a plan for a very long time, so probably not that great as plans go!

      To answer your immediate questions, the drawer sliders bolt directly to 80/20 lengths at the correct height on each side of every drawer. The fridge is held in place with a metal plate down each side of the front of the fridge which then bolts into vertical 80/20 lengths that form a frame for the fridge.

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