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  • Writer's pictureMax & Sophie In A Van

Our Van Build Toolkit - Essentials and Extras

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

We'd like to start this by saying that we were really really lucky that our friends and family (mostly our tool-hoarding dads) lent us many tools for our van build, so get out there, buy the essentials then beg and borrow!

Every DIY van conversion is different so this is going to be more of a list of what we think are essential tools that you can't build a camper van without, and then extra tools which can make your build easier.

Max & Sophie In A Van with Makita Tools - What do I need to build a van?


Safety Kit

Safety is key when working on any DIY project, there is no point hurting yourself before you get to enjoy your home on wheels. gloves, safety glasses, ear defenders and strong boots are a great place to start.

Stanley Tape Measure

Tape Measure

This tool will hardly leave your hand throughout your build so this is your new best friend. Remember, measure twice, cut once!

Low Budget - 5m Stanley Tylon Tape

Higher End - 8m Stanley Dual Lock Tape

Stanley Square


Spirit levels are useless in a van build as your van won't ever be level, and the more weight added to the van the more it will change! A square allows you to cut straight and create perfectly square cupboards and drawers.

Low Budget - Silverline Square

Higher End - Stanley Square

Wolfcraft Caulking Gun

Caulking Gun

A caulk gun is what you use to apply your other new best friend - Sikaflex! As well as any other sealants, caulks and silicones for fixing in windows, roof vents, sinks and shower trays.

Low Budget - ProDec Caulking Gun

Higher End - Wolfcraft Caulking Gun

Makita DHP482 Combi Drill

Combi Drill

You can use a combi drill to put holes into wood and metal, as well as drive in screws. If you can afford to, it's a good investment to buy power tools all of the same make. This way you can use batteries across all of your devices, and even buy some bare (battery-less and therefore cheaper) tools once you have a stock of batteries, We are a big fan of the Makita LXT Range but that's just a personal preference!

Low Budget - Black+Decker Combi Drill

Higher End - Makita DHP482

Makita Drill Bit Set

Bit sets

For your combi drill you will need a selection of drill and screwdriver bits in more shapes and sizes than you could ever imagine. If you are new to using power tools be ready to wear and break some bits, that's all part of the process so you can't be too precious!

Low Budget - Amazon Multi Bit Set

Higher End - Makita Accessory Kit

Irwin Quick Grip Clamp


An extra pair of hands is always useful at any stage of your van build! A good set of clamps can stop you trying to hold that awkward shaped thing in that awkward position with your face while you try to screw it in.

Low Budget - Workpro Clamps

Higher End - Irwin Quick Grip Clamp

Makita DJV182 Jigsaw


You can get through the majority of your van build solely with this saw. From cutting holes in your van's body for windows and roof vents to cutting tongue and groove for your internal cladding. Having a hand saw and a mitre block alongside this would be sufficient for the majority of builds, however if you can afford to add some luxuries to your toolkit the saw department is a great place to start.

Low Budget - Black+Decker Jigsaw

Higher End - Makita DJV182

Something key which we have missed out of this 'essentials' list is plumbing and electrical specific tools. These really range depending on what kind of install you are doing and where in the world you are! Keep an eye out for upcoming blogs that cover this!


Sealey AK692 Socket Set

Socket Set

Working on any vehicle is made easier with a socket set, I got mine for my birthday when we started our van build and haven't stopped using it since!

Low Budget - Rolson Socket Set

Higher End - Sealey AK692

Makita HS7601J

Circular Saw

As we mentioned in the essentials section, the saw department is a great place to expand your toolkit. A circular saw allows you to cut quicker in straight lines compared to a jigsaw. In our build we used ours to cut sheets of 18mm plywood for our false floor.

Low Budget - Black+Decker Circular Saw

Higher End - Makita HS7601J

Makita Slide Chop Mitre Saw

Chop and Table Saws

Chop and Table saws are very similar to a circular saw - one big circular blade which you either move towards your wood, or move your wood against! Chop saws are great for cutting your timber for framework or tongue and groove for a ceiling while table saws are best for sheet materials.

Einhell Table Saw

Low Budget - Einhell Chop Saw

Higher End - Makita Slide Chop Saw

Low Budget - ParkerBrand Table Saw

Higher End Table Saw - Einhell Table Saw

Starrett Arbour Hole Saw

Hole Saws

From cutting a hole in your ceiling for a puck light to a hole in the side of your van for a water filler point, hole saws are a great addition to your toolkit and can be easily used as an attachment to your combi drill. Once you have an arbour (center drill bit) you can attach to it holesaws of any size.

Low Budget - Bi-Metal Hole Saw *including arbour.

Higher End - Starrett 70mm Hole Saw

Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole Jig

Pocket Hole Jig

A Pocket-Hole jig can be a life saver in a van build, allowing you to make perfect hidden joints throughout. We didn't use one on our build but it would definitely have sped us up!

Low Budget - Wolfcraft Jig

Higher End - Kreg Jig K4

Makita DBO180Z Orbital Sander


We got through most of our build using a good old fashioned sanding block and sandpaper, however even the most basic electric sander can save so much time on your van build.

Low Budget - Black+Decker Mouse Sander

Higher End - Makita DBO180Z

Makita DGA452Z Angle Grinder

Angle Grinder

Depending on your van build an Angle Grinder may be absolutely necessary. We had 10 metres of Unwin rails with rusty bolts to chop out which would have been almost impossible without one!

Low Budget - Bosch Angle Grinder

Higher End - Makita DGA452Z

Trend Angle Screwdriver Attachment

1/4 Hex Angle Screwdriver

This little gadget is finishing this list as it saved us more times than we would like to admit! There is always one final screw which you just can't get the right angle to drive in which is where this comes in handy, allowing you to work at 90 degrees to the screw.

Low Budget - 90-degree Screwdriver Attachment

Higher End - Trend Angle Screwdriver Attachment

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Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links so we do get some pennies (at no extra cost to you!) if you follow the link and make a purchase.


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