Galley Box

16th November 2023 – Rotherhithe

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Inspired by one of Roger Barnes’ wonderful cruising dinghy blogs, I decided that I too could do with a galley box, but for our camper van rather than our little dinghy.

Our camper van hasn’t got a kitchen inside. We wanted a clear space to use the vehicle as a plain van if we needed to. Here is the stove set up outside on the table which stows in the sliding door

I could see a couple of advantages of having a dedicated galley box:

  • When cooking outside, the cooker would be shielded from the wind making it much more efficient.
  • When I wake up in the morning and it is pissing with rain, the box will contain everything needed for a decent breakfast without me needing to venture out of the van into the miserable weather. I’m painting a rather bleak picture of camper van life, it doesn’t always rain in the morning, sometimes it snows.
  • Although we prefer to cook outside, occasionally we may succumb to a bacon roll in the van. The box should stop any fat splattering the upholstery.

Currently, the stove is stored in a naff plastic box, the cutlery is in another box and the coffee and muesli are in yet another box. So the new galley box will consolidate everything needed, at least for breakfast.

Besides, I like making things, and this was a nice little project!

Shown sitting on the little table I made a few years ago

The size needed to fit onto a little table that I made, so that determined the width (395 mm). It needed to be at least deep enough to hold the stove (330 mm) and tall enough to use even with the lid down (350 mm).

The base is 12 mm marine ply and the rest is 9 mm. It could all be 9 mm and need not be Robins Elite Marine Ply, but I had it in stock, so I used it. The joints were PVA glued and dovetail nailed with 30 mm panel pins – just what I had to hand.

I know the dovetailed panel pin and PVA glue technique works because I made this box at school when I was 15. I open and close the lid a couple of times every day so it has probably opened about 38,000 times and is showing no signs of wear! Maybe a new coat of paint would help.
It is probably the most useful thing I gained from school!

I built the galley box being careful to avoid using nails were I would eventually cut through the box. It is always best to make the box complete and cut it up afterwards. As it is going to have a gas canister in it, I drilled a large hole directly under where the gas can connects to the stove. Gas sinks, so I didn’t want a box full of gas ready to blow up the van. On the base, there are four soft feet to raise the box slightly off the table top.

Showing the underside of the box with its plastic feet and gas escape hole underneath. The large hole in the face allows access to the knob on the gas cooker. The hinges have backing pads to allow longer screws to be used. The screws are raised countersunk screws – my favourites.

The gas stove was as cheap as chips and was chosen because it is very stable and has a low profile. They are generic, so easy to replace if needed. I routed a slot in the side to provide good air flow. Tilman, the woofer, thinks I am mad. He had better watch out, or I will build him a kennel.

The front flap has an oak stop so it stays level and thus becomes a useful work surface. Generally galley box lids just lift off so they can be used as a tray, but I decided a loose tray wasn’t needed and I would prefer another work surface. I didn’t want an ugly hinged bracket to support the shelf so I scratched my head for a while before deciding on a shaped piece of ply which locks into the handle hole on the side of the box. It works well and provides a good solid surface.

This piece of ply stores away inside the box. The hook is inserted into the handhold at an angle….
….and drops down under gravity to form a rock solid shelf support
The support flap stores neatly away inside the box when not needed

The top drawer is the same depth as our mugs (95 mm). It holds a couple of plates, two mugs, two beakers, cutlery and a couple of Tupperware Boxes for muesli and coffee.

The top drawer is deep enough to hold a standard mug

When everything is opened up there are plenty of surfaces to work on and to place cups etc.

Set up inside the van on the table, in breakfast mode
It might be even better just next to the table, I suspect this is where it will live when we are set up

The box is quite heavy when it is fully loaded so when we are driving it will live on the floor behind the passenger seat.

28th November 2023

We have used the box for the first time and can declare it a huge success. Here is a little video

Geeky Technical Stuff

Paint – I painted the box in a “two-tone” colour scheme to match our camper van. The primer was International One Up. It is a strange gel type paint which seems to work OK but I really prefer an ordinary liquid paint. The inside was then painted with satin Epifanes white paint. I was going to leave the top colour on the outside in the white eggshell but it didn’t look right so I “invested” in a can of Epifanes Light Oyster Gloss. The grey is also Epifanes Gloss. I bought the Epifanes from Park Gate Leisure who were £10 per can cheaper than anyone else – how do they manage that?

Plywood – Made from offcuts of Robins Super Elite Marine Ply purchased from Robins Timber. If I was buying from scratch I would probably use 9 mm birch ply throughout.

Adhesives – I just used interior PVA, Resin W. I probably would have chosen a foaming exterior adhesive if buying from new.

Fixings – As some of the screws only have 9 mm depth to grip, I chose self-tappers which work better than woodscrews in this application. The screws are 316 grade stainless, that way any left overs can be used on the boat. I use Accu to supply my fixings, they are mega efficient and have an unrivalled range, including my favourite raised slotted countersunk screws. Not too cheap though.

Continuous Hinge – 304 grade stainless steel from Cooke Brothers. I needed to increase the depth of the countersinks to master the screws. What shall I make with the 5 foot off cut?

Catches – They haven’t arrived yet so I suspect they are being sent from China. Incredibly, I ordered them from Shein which seems to be a fast fashion company and they now bombard me with emails for autumn dresses. I’ll block them once the catches arrive. I was going to use a Protex catch but they cost £23.00 each which was just too much for this application. I may eventually use a simple magnetic catch to keep the outside nice and clean.

The catches did arrive and they weren’t too bad. I suspect the spring will rust but I’ll smear it with lanolin and that should help. Now I just need to stop “Shein” bombarding me with junk emails!

Rubber Feet – Gosh it was a struggle to find four simple rubber feet without paying a fortune for delivery or buying a pack of 48. I ended up buying stick-on plastic feet from B&Q.

That’s enough geeky stuff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.