15 Cheap and Essential Van Conversion Tools for a Successful Camper Conversion in 2023

We break down the best and most essential van conversion tools to make your van conversion journey easy and enjoyable.
15 Cheap and Essential Van Conversion Tools for a Successful Camper Conversion in 2023

Jumping into a van conversion project can be an exciting and fulfilling endeavour.

Whether you’re transforming a cargo van into a cosy camper or converting a panel van into a mobile office, having the right tools at your disposal is essential for a successful camper conversion. In this article, we’ll explore the top 15 van conversion tools for 2023, designed to make your conversion process easier, more efficient, and, ultimately, more enjoyable.

We’ll also share our personal top picks of some not-essential but undeniably helpful tools that we used in our build that saved hours of our lives whilst building out our camper.

 

This blog won’t cover essential electrical van conversion tools or plumbing van conversion tools – but we have done a blog on each, so be sure to check those out after this one!

Planning Your DIY Campervan Layout
screwdriver kit van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #1 – Screwdriver Kit

Any van conversion needs a screwdriver set. You’ll constantly be tightening and loosening, not just general screws, but torx bolts, allen key bolts, and fickle ickle tiny screws.

Not the mention that ‘normal’ screws have multiple heads: Phillip’s head, Pozi’s head and flathead. And in different sizes as well! So you need a FULL KIT to deal with the constant screwing.

Our screwdriver set was £10. Plenty of spare heads, as we inevitably lost a few along the way. 110% needed.

ratchet sockets van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #2 – Ratchet Socket Set

Bolts are everywhere. And you always need a different size socket, so a full socket set is needed, with multiples size sockets and ratchets. We picked up one for £50, and it’s lasted us all throughout the build and beyond, helping us with mechanical repairs for our van.

You can end up spending hundreds on a fancy set, but truth be told, a cheap set lasted us just fine for the whole van conversion.

hammer van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #3 – Hammer

Nice and simple. An excellent caveman tool. £5 or less, though you probably have one lying around somewhere. A hammer is such a versatile tool, you’ll use it for things you never knew you needed it!

Or just to vent.

adjustable spanner van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #4 – Adjustable Spanner

An adjustable spanner will come to the rescue for bolts you just can’t fit a ratchet and socket to. These are great for your camper conversion since they avoid the need to buy every single spanner size out there, saving you money and space in your toolbox.

tape measure van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #5 – Tape Measure

Whether you use centimetres or inches (or lightyears…or nanometres), you need a good tape measure. Measure ten.. fifteen… fifty times, then measure again, then cut.

Frankly, having a few tape measures dotted around will always be handy as you will constantly leave them all over your build site. They are cheap and essential.

Sprinter van - VW Crafter Van Conversion Template - MWB

Van Conversion Tool # 6- Pencil and Paper

As great as phones are, nothing beats a simple pencil and paper for jotting down things as you go about your camper conversion. From measurements and dimensions to little doodles and full-on 3D sketches, you will always need somewhere quick to jot down the 14,000,605 ideas that come to your head.

sprinter van layout template planner - plan your van conversion layout

Van Conversion Tool #7 – Van Conversion Templates

Okay, we may seem biased here, but at the end of the day, the van conversion templates were first created for our own personal use due to need, and later we shared them with you.

Our van conversion templates were printed and constantly on hand throughout our build. These were vital for our van build, as we could constantly refer to our to-scale drawings on the van in front of us in real time and always knew what we were working with.

They were awesome for doodling ideas and jotting down notes on a canvas that provided an easy visual reference that looked exactly the same as the van. This is instead of always having to sketch the vans outline wonkily, and then make reference notes even more wonkily (which makes it less helpful).

Check out our templates here to learn more about these for your van conversion.

crafting knife van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #8 – Crafting Knife

From slicing through insulation and tape to the millions of boxes being delivered daily containing exciting van conversion goodies, a crafting knife is handy to keep on your person throughout the build.

These are under £10, and the blades are even cheaper. Whatever you do, don’t try to cut through plywood with these. Trust me…it won’t work… I was desperate. My wife said it wouldn’t work… I didn’t listen.

painting roller van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #9 – Paint Brushes and Rollers

If you’re at the beginning of your van conversion, you may not even be thinking about painting, but the time will come when the walls can no longer be plywood colour. And when that time comes, out come the paintbrushes.

Having a nice set of paintbrushes and some paint rollers will help you paint the largest walls to the smallest pieces of uniquely shaped DIY furniture you have built for your van build.

Van Conversion Tool #10 – Sealant Gun

Sealant for sticking, sealant for edging, sealant for waterproofing, sealant for securing. It’s messy, and it’s always drying out, but you’ll be using sealant a lot.

You can find battery-powered sealant guns for over £100, but the hand-operated ones for £10 work just fine and are all that’s needed… unless you have weak hands… or glazing sealant (which is really tough).

Van Conversion Power Tool Essentials

The above ten tools can get you most of the way through a van conversion, but the next five are essential power tools that will make your job a thousand times quicker and easier and allow you to cut wood (as we said, don’t use a crafting knife for this).

Whilst they are more expensive, they will be worth their weight in sanity for a van build. (what’s the weight of sanity… anyone?)

These tools are all battery-powered – whilst corded versions exist and are cheaper, the flexibility and versatility of a battery-powered tool are greatly appreciated, especially in those tight spots.

mini screwdriver van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #11 – Mini Power Screwdriver

These things are epic! We used one from Day 1 of our van conversion. They speed up the mundane task of screwing things together tenfold.

A Mini Power Screwdriver is around £35 on sale and are small enough to fit in your pocket. As long as you remember to charge it, they are a game-changer.

Van Conversion Tool #12 – Cordless Power Drill

Drilling holes is a part of life in a van conversion. Whether you’re drilling them through your van or your furniture, you’ll need a good power drill.

You can get a good starter set with a battery included for under £100.

Another bonus is putting a screwdriver head into the drill and using it for major screw work. (e.g. when you’re putting in your floor and walls where you may be using upwards of 100 screws…your hands will thank you).

Van Conversion Tool #13 – Drill Bit Set

With your new fancy power drill, you’ll also need some drill bits. Getting a full set of all major sizes is a good start, but from experience, many smaller sizes will break. Getting a few spares for the 2.5mm, 3mm, 3.5mm, and 4mm sizes will save you wasted trips to the local store while you’re in the middle of building your kitchen unit.

Van Conversion Tool #14 – Cordless Jigsaw

A van conversion requires you to make custom furniture…and even custom-shaped walls for your tiny home. Having a lightweight tool to cut not just your walls and furniture but also holes in the van itself to fit your windows and vent fans is needed, and a cordless jigsaw fits the bill perfectly.

Jigsaws can cut straight lines, go around corners, and easily cut through plastic, metal and wood.

Cordless jigsaws are around £80, but it’s a no-brainer for the time saved vs manually sawing all that wood.

orbital sander van conversion essential tool

Van Conversion Tool #15 – Cordless Orbital Sander

I agree; it is possible to manually hand sand all your wooden furniture before you paint or glue it. But when you use an electric sander, there’s no going back.

For delicate pieces, hand sanding with some simple sandpaper will be easier, but save your skin (and your patience) for any large surfaces and grab a cordless orbital sander to smooth any wooden surface in seconds easily.

This tool is probably the most expensive on the list, at around £100 just for the tool, but look out for flash deals or look second-hand.

Overall, the best tools are often the simplest ones – having a basic set of the simplest tools will certainly help you out in your van build, but there are a few things that you may not expect which will also come in handy. With the 15 tools mentioned above, everything should be achievable in building out your campervan.

For us, there were a few other tools that made our job 100 times easier, and depending on your budget and your van build, they might be worth the investment (or asking your neighbours/family)

Tools To Consider for Your Van Conversion

As a bonus for making it this far, here are a few of our top recommendations for some tools that, although not essential for a build, are worth considering if you want to save more time and are willing to invest a little more money.

They saved us many hours and often gave us a nicer finish.

  • Mitre Saw – £50. These are plunging saws which cut dead straight. Great for cutting planks of wood. They can even cut at angles.
  • Table Saw – £250. If you want to cut large sheets of plywood dead straight, these are a real lifesaver, despite the hefty price tag.
  • Circular Saw – £150. An alternative to the table saw. They again cut dead straight, though they need a bit more control to use.
  • Angle Grinder – £80. Great for grinding down stubborn rust spots in your van or smoothing out rough metal edges. You can even attach a cutting wheel to cut through metal.
  • Multi-Tool – £80. These can be used with hundreds of attachments to accurately cut and chip away at smaller sections to give a clean, smooth finish.
  • Hole Saws – £20. If you need a larger circular hole, bigger than what drillbits can provide, these can give you the perfectly circular hole and attach to a drill. Great for providing access to pipes and wires.

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