Campervan Blind

Custom parts used in this build now available for sale in my Etsy Store.

I wanted the neat look of a recessed blind in my LWB VW T6 Shuttle, but without the price tag of a pre-built unit. As I was going to carpet and ply line my van walls anyway it was quite straightforward to add this functionality.

Having spent (too) many hours on YouTube and Instructables I settled on an Ikea Hoppvals Blind to use for this project.

The below article talks about 1 blind for the rear quarter passenger side window, but the technique can (and will) be replicated on my other side, the 2 sliding doors, and my tailgate. It should be possible on barn doors and I hope to do it where the bulkhead would go. I have yet to do everywhere else, but I have deliberately made it possible so I get a consistent look throughout.

I have written this article from the perspective of ‘how I did it’, but hope you can use it as a base to start your own project. I may be able to supply the custom 3D printed and Leather Parts; please contact me if you are interested.

 

References

Bill of Materials

  • Plywood Panels (customised and supplied by Plyworx UK).
  • 4 way Stretch Carpet in Anthracite (supplied by Harrisons Trim Supplies Ltd).
  • Hoppvals Blind (from Ikea).
    • Mine is the 120cm version to fit a Long Wheel Base van.
  • Custom 3D printed mounting brackets.
  • Custom made Leather Pull Tab.
  • Assorted fixings

Plywood Panel & Carpet Lining

I requested some custom options on the plywood panels I purchased from Plyworx UK. In the main 3.6mm panel, they cut the window hole 50mm smaller than it should be to allow space for the blinds in the window recess.

They also supplied a 5mm thick frame that was to be added to the rear of the window cut out to add strength and make it look chunkier. The cut-outs match exactly so a nice clean look is achieved.

I glued the frame to the back of the plywood panel using wood glue and then covered the whole thing in carpet wrapped over the internal window edges. The end result was not only stronger but the total thickness of the window cut-out edge is now 8.6mm thick and looks great.

Clockwise from top: Finished Panel, Detail of Carpet Wrapped over the Edge, Window Frame Covered in Carpet on Rear of Main Panel, Installed Panel and Frame with added Embossed VW Logo.

Custom Brackets

The brackets that come with the Ikea Blind would have made the blind slightly further away from the plywood than ideal. I wanted it to be as flush as possible as I would be sleeping under it and I wanted to ensure no light could get in to wake me up on lazy summer mornings. I, therefore, designed new mounts.

I used Fusion 360 and 3D printed them on my Crealty Ender 2. The gif below shows the design process for some stops that I ended up not using, but the CAD process for the mounts was very similar. I added the embossed VW logo and rounded the corners to make it look more professional. I could have left these touches off but I am really happy with how they have turned out; even though I won’t see them once installed – I know they are there!

In order to get to the CAD stage I had to copy the profile of the blind’s original end cap; I wanted my new mounts to insert into the end of the metal channel on the top of the blind and replace the supplied end caps so I had to copy the part where it slots into the metal channel as accurately as I possibly could so it would fit tightly. I made the part that was to be inserted to the channel slightly longer than the original to increase strength.

Once I had copied the end cap and verified it would fit into the channel I could add the actual mount part. For this, I needed a vertical surface at 90` perpendicular to the channel with holes to accept bolts to go into the plywood. I modeled this in Fusion and my new mount was complete!

 

As the plywood is only 3.6mm thick, I used flange nuts to increase strength. These are inserted from the opposite side of the plywood and covered in the carpet. You cannot see them from the front. I used M4 bolts to go through the 3D printed mounts into the M4 nuts.

I also added a strip of carpet under the spring of the blind to stop it rattling when driving – rattling is very annoying when driving a campervan!

 

Custom Leather Pull Tab

The most common method I have seen for accessing the pull on this kind of recessed blind is to cut out a notch in the plywood to allow you the grasp the pull. I didn’t want this look, and I wanted to incorporate a contrasting leather element in my design.

 

 

I identified that I would need a piece of leather that would allow me to pull the blind down when it is open and pull it up when it is closed. I also wanted a VW logo stamped into the leather. The design I came up with incorporated a loop at the bottom and a tab that would stick up above the plywood. This would allow the blind to close fully down to the metal of the van.

I designed a stamp in Fusion that gave me a cutting line and would emboss the VW logo into the leather whilst aligning the stamp with the cuts.

Once stamped, a process that involves wetting the leather and leaving it clamped overnight, I cut the leather out using a craft knife and a half-round punch to get a nice smooth rounded end. The edges of the leather are then sanded and beveled to prepare for burnishing. Burnishing leather is a process used to seal the edges and give a smooth finish and is achieved using wax and a wooden slicker.

Once I was happy with the finished leather piece I punched 4 stitch holes in each side and transferred those hole positions to the metal at the bottom of the blind so I could drill through to allow me to sew the leather to the blind. I reinforced the stitches with some super glue.

Summary

Overall I am really happy with the finished look. I will make some changes to the process when I do the other ‘walls’ but overall the finished look will end up the same – I want it to match after all!

It has really transformed the rear of my Shuttle in preparation for the bed to be installed.

Before you go…

Why not have a look at some of my blog articles such as this one that talks about how I made the large VW logo you can see below my blind in the photos.

If you would like to see if I can supply any of the custom parts used in this project, or have any questions, please get in touch! I’m always happy to help another maker or Dub-Lifer.

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