Over the past decade, there’s been a mass exodus of people choosing to live on the road. Whether it’s in an RV or a converted van, this trend seems to be on the rise. Outfitting a vehicle takes time and money, but with the right material, it will be well worth it in the end. One material that has become popular with this trend has been t-slotted aluminum extrusions.
You will notice in some videos and articles that t-slot aluminum framing is often referred to as 80/20. This happens to be the name of one of the companies that manufacture t-slot. Although they were one of the first to introduce t-slot, they are not the only company that provides t-slotted aluminum extrusions and hardware.
Due to its attributes of durability, modularity, and it being lightweight, t-slot aluminum is the perfect choice for van conversions. From galleys to showers, cabinets, and tables, the build list is endless for the things you can create with t-slotted framing. There are several more reasons for choosing t-slotted framing for building material in your van conversion and they are:
- Clean aesthetic
- Easy to cut and drill
- Easy assemble and install
When discussing the aesthetic, t-slotted aluminum comes in a variety of finishes and orientations. In the video link above, you will notice the flat orientations of the front and sides of the cabinet, which gives it a smooth, finished appearance. T-slot can be powder coated or come in black anodized to suit a variety of van applications. Due to its anti-corrosive capabilities, t-slot aluminum is easy to clean and maintain. Should a piece become damaged, it can easily be replaced.
Easy to Cut and Drill
One of the pros to using t-slotted aluminum framing is that it does not require welding or special cutting tools. A circular or table saw with the right blade will cut most of the profiles out there. A table saw is the preferred of the two, as a circular saw can be tricky. For more t-slot aluminum cutting information, visit here.
Easy Assembly and Install
When it comes to assembly and installation, t-slotted aluminum is quite simple. There are multiple fasteners, connectors, and hardware to make your structure solid and durable. Although other hardware can be used, it is always recommended to use hardware specific to t-slotted aluminum framing.
To note, most all profiles, regardless of manufacturer, are compatible with one another. However, it is always best to double-check this before making your final purchase. Most all manufacturers will also provide a tag drawing if you utilize their CAD software to design your concept. This drawing will help with assembly and installation.
When creating van conversions, most are looking for a lightweight solution that can fit their space. Heavy, bulky wood, steel, and off-the-shelf solutions will not meet the weight requirements. The heavier the building material, the higher the fuel costs. Although this section is titled cost-effective, it is important to note t-slot weighs less, which makes it a superior choice in van conversions.
Wood and steel will be cheaper than t-slotted aluminum, but they will not be lightweight, nor will they be modular. In the next section, we will provide tips on how to keep costs low when choosing t-slot aluminum for your project.
T-Slot Project Tips
Keeping costs low will be number one for anybody doing a van conversion. When planning out your project, calculate the best way to order and cut the t-slot. Also, consider your waste from the cutting width of your blade.
- The next, most important thing to do before building is preplanning and preloading all nuts and fittings into the profile. Once you captivate or lock the channel, you can no longer get your fasteners in the channel. There are roll-in nuts that can be used post build, but they cost more.
- Use the fasteners and hardware provided for t-slot so that nothing is off-kilter. It is more expensive, but it will save you time and fewer headaches in the end.
- Be sure to do a loose fit in the van before locking everything down on the worktable.
- Utilize free tools offered by websites, such as deflection calculators, design quoters, and training videos for CAD software. This will help with planning and you will obtain a 3D model, bill of materials, and a tag drawing if you purchase from the company.
- Compare your assembly option to a kit option. Kit options will already have everything done and included for your build. All you will need is to bolt the structure together.
Ultimately, your time, budget, and project needs will determine if t-slotted aluminum framing is the right choice for you. Below we have listed some more van conversion links to give you a better understanding of how t-slotted aluminum can be used in van conversions.
T-Slot Van Conversion Videos
Below are a few quality T-Slot van conversion videos we found on YouTube.