In an ongoing saga of my school bus conversion, my first choice for kitchen and over head cabinets was to make them. Older school buses have rounded roofs and stock cabinets are square. I figured I'd solve this problem right off by making the cabinets to fit.
Step 1: Why the Decision to Go Stock.
The roof in older school buses was round I'm told for better roll over protection in the event of an accident. While I'm glad to have this added protection in my conversion, I still needed overhead cabinets.
While perusing a Habitat for Humanity Restore in Gainesville, GA looking for an office chair I stumbled upon a boat load of cabinets. They were offering enough cabinets to do my entire kitchen for the price of one quality cabinet at any of the big box home improvement stores. Well, that set the wheels of thought into motion. Hence, the creation of this instructable.
Step 2: Gather Your Supplies.
Actually the supply list is quite short. What you will need:
- Cabinets (of course)
- Saw (you can do it all with a jig saw)
- Measuring tape
- Straight edge
- Cardboard (or anything to make a template)
Step 3: Find the Shape of Your Roof Line
I just happen to have some scrap styrofoam handy. This made for an easy template as it was very easy to cut to shape. Use your roof line to find the shape you will need to cut your cabinets.
Step 4: Trace Your Roof Line Shape
After you find the shape you're looking for, start by tracing the shape on each end of your cabinet. Then connect the markings on each end by drawing straight lines from one end to match the markings on the opposite end.
Before you start cutting, make sure the shape you have is what you want to end up with. Remember the old carpenter's rule, "Measure twice, cut once!" If needed retest your template on the roof line of the bus. The cabinets will become useless once you begin cutting if they will not fit.
Step 5: Cross Your Fingers and Begin Cutting.
I used a jig saw to cut the curves. I used a circular saw to cut the straight lines. There were sections where the sides met the top and back where I used a multi-purpose tool to join the cuts in the unmatched joints. It can all be done with just a jig saw but will take a little more time and effort.
Step 6: Mount Your Cabinets.
Cut one cabinet and mount it before cutting the rest of your cabinets. This will tell you if you need to make any adjustments before you cut all your cabinets.
Once you are satisfied with the first cabinet, cut and mount the remaining cabinets.
Step 7: Side Notes.
I was concerned about weakening the cabinets by cutting off so much of them. This turned out not to be a problem in my particular case. Evidently, these were quality cabinets to start with. I was prepared to add strengthening boards to make sure I didn't compromise their durability. Cheaper cabinets may require added strengthening.
I mounted the cabinets from the top and the back for added safety. There is a wooden strip screwed to the metal ribs of the bus that the cabinets are screwed to from the top. This strip needs to be figured in when making the template. For best results, mark how deep your cabinets are from the wall and screw the strip up before making your template.
After the cabinets are cut and prior to mounting you can add 1/8" luan plywood over the open back for a finished look. The luan will easily follow the shape of the curve. I left mine open for the time being for the purpose of running my wiring behind the cabinets throughout the bus. I will, when I finish, close the opening from the inside making it accessible for the future if I need to run more wiring or do repairs.
So, if a bus conversion is in your future, grab those stock cabinets, save some money and show your inner, hidden creativeness.
By the way, I never did get that office chair. Drat, another trip to the Habitat store.