Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to do some work for a cool new ramen noodle restaurant in Carmel Valley down in San Diego called WOKOU Ramen. This particular project called for two dozen custom branded check presenters…in other words…little mini clipboards 🙂 It was something I hadn’t done before so of course I was excited to get started.
After doing a little research and coming up with a game plan I got to work. The restaurant has a touch of red and black throughout, and the owner wanted the main color scheme of these clipboards to be red and black, and after brainstorming a bit it was decided the edges would have a charred/burned look and the WOKOU logo would be rubber stamped in the center.
I ended up using birch for these check presenters. I thought about using a basic Minwax stain, but the only red color I could find was a color called Sedona Red, which was a great color but had a bit too much brown for this project. It’ll great for something else, but it wasn’t red enough for this one. I ended up trying something new (new for me) and picking up some Transfast Cardinal Red Dye which is actually a powder that you mix with water. Wiping it on didn’t give it the coverage I was looking for, so I ended up pouring some of the dye into a plastic shoebox and submerged each clipboard into the red liquid, where the color soaked into the wood and was a richer, more vibrant red that I ever expected! Thumbs up!
For the charring/torching effect along the edges I got out my Bernzomatic Self Igniting Torch and hit the edges with the flame. While the look came out great, the heat caused the thin wood to warp pretty quickly. So it was a no-go on the torch technique and I ended up going with a simple spray paint and was able to achieve the same effect. Next I used the rubber stamp and carefully stamped the WOKOU logo in the center.
After making a simple little jig to accurately place the holes, I gave every piece a few coats of Minwax Spray Lacquer and mounted the black clipboard clips. Now these awesome check presenters are ready for business! So when you get a chance, head down to WOKOU and grab some lunch or dinner. When your server brings your check out to you, be sure to think of me when you’re signing your name on the line 🙂
It wasn’t long ago that I added the Ridgid Oscillating Spindle Sander to my shop. This sander is a very handy tool to have and it’s also a very popular model, so once I got it setup and running, I started using it right away. One thing I needed was somewhere to put it, so I grabbed a tool stand that wasn’t being used for anything else and I built a storage cabinet to mount on top of it. Shop furniture isn’t always the prettiest furniture to look at, but I wanted this piece to be an attractive little unit and to do that I took inspiration from the end table I built when I attended the Jory Brigham Design Workshop this past winter in Paso Robles, California. I did a full write-up on my experience taking that course and you can check that out here —> My Experience At The Jory Brigham Design Workshop In Paso Robles.
I don’t know about you but I’m a big fan of exposed plywood edges (when used in moderation) and I chose to go with Baltic Birch plywood for this project. I laminated several strips of the plywood together, and after the glue dried I evened out the thickness using my DeWalt DW734 Benchtop Planer. Once I had the desired thickness, I used what I learned at Jory’s course and set up a straight edge fence at an angle over at my Laguna Fusion Table Saw. Sending the wood over the saw blade at an angle cuts an arch, or cove on the face of the wood. The safest practice is to only raise the blade about 1/8″ after each pass. There are several variables that allow you to get a pretty unique cove pattern. I went with a fairly simple 3 cove pattern, which meant running the wood over the blade at 3 different fence distances. Note to self….next time set up some sort of dust collection at either end of the wood when cove cutting. Since you’re running wood over the blade in an unconventional manner, dust shoots out the open ends like there was no tomorrow, lol!
I knew I wanted to add a good looking, but easy to grip handle. I ended up picking up a piece of 1-inch thick brass rod. I determined how long my knob/handle needed to be, and cut off that length over at the chop saw. Then I put on the 1-inch diameter sanding sleeve and started working the brass, creating a groove that would be comfortable to grab to pull open the drawer. It took a while, but the Ridgid Spindle Sander did a great job. Another note to self….wear gloves because the brass gets hot!!
The construction of the box was pretty straightforward, with butt joints and some exposed plywood edges. After attaching the back I ran my Freud/Diablo 45 degree chamfer bit around the edges to give it a nice touch. Once the box was assembled I also added a strip of solid birch around the front to hide the exposed plywood edges, and that birch strip had a 10-degree bevel on it to add a little bit of detail. I sanded the whole box to 400 grit and gave it a good wiping of Watco Danish Oil and finished it off with a couple coats of satin spray lacquer.
The drawer boxes were simply assembled using pocket screws, thanks to my Kreg Pocket Hole K4 Jig, and I used 12-inch full extension drawer slides for maximum drawer content accessibility. Then I used a 1-inch Freud Forstner Bit to bore a hole for the brass knob and used a little bit of Gorilla Glue 2-part clear epoxy to secure the knob in place. Finally, I mounted the coved drawer face to the front of the drawer box and secured the the metal stand to the finished product using 4 screws from below, and secured the Ridgid sander on top using 4 more screws. Done and done!!
By the time you’re reading this, the drawer is already much fuller than it is in the photo, haha! If you enjoyed this project, please leave me a comment letting me know what you liked about it, or what you think I could have done differently! Also, stay tuned to the blog because I’m currently building a cabinet base for my router table that will be in the same style as this….only bigger and more complicated 🙂
Also, if you plan on making any tool purchases, check out my affiliate links and add some items to your cart!! Be sure to contact me directly if you have any questions or are looking for a custom piece of furniture. Thanks so much, see you in the woodshop!
A couple years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to buy a 13foot 1987 Scamp Travel Trailer. If you’re not familiar with Scamp Trailers, they’re a fun, cute, lightweight option if you want to get out and do some camping. We were pulling it with a 4-cylinder Subaru Outback with no problem. As you can see from the “before” photos, this Scamp trailer needed a lot of love. Fortunately, the body itself was pretty decent so we really only had to focus most of the attention on the interior and minimal exterior things.
This trailer’s previous owner took it out for local fishing trips, but I have no idea how long it had been since it’s last trip. When we saved it, it looked as if it was starting to be used as storage for both junk and dirt, haha! The front window had a couple small cracks along the bottom and as we drove it up the freeway, the wind pressure spread those cracks quickly! The rear window was actually solid glass, which is definitely a no-no on a Scamp. Furthermore, the rear glass window had a huge spider web shaped crack/shatter and the weight of the glass had sagged it down so the rubber seal was all messed up and the duct tape used to “fix” it was crusty and falling off. It was clear that the windows would need to be the first thing to get replaced. We could have purchased new plexiglass windows directly from the Scamp Parts Store, but they would have been clear and we knew we wanted the windows to be dark tinted so we headed over to Ridout Plastics in Kearny Mesa and picked up some dark tinted plexiglass sheets that we’d have to cut down to size.
After tracing the window pattern onto the new plexi, I used the Bosch JS365 Jigsaw to cut the rough shape out of the plexi. Next, using the original windows as a template, I used the DEWALT DWP611 Compact Router and Freud Flush Trim Bit to cut an exact replica of the original window. Cutting out the window shapes wasn’t too difficult, but installing them was a pain in the butt!! We used the appropriate beading and lockstrip with the Lockstrip Tool and it was very difficult…even with the baby oil trick. But we finally got it in place and gave it a thin clean application of Black RTV Silicone Sealant around the edges just for some added leak protection.
Next was the 4-pin wire harness. When we plugged the trailer into the harness on our Subaru (the Subaru harness had just recently been installed new) the marker lights, brake lights and blinkers on the Scamp were all messed up. I hit the brakes and the right turn signal blinks….I hit the left turn signal and all the marker lights blink. Everything was out of whack. We found a pretty simple wiring diagram over at eTrailer.com and decided to simply rip out all the old 12v wiring and install brand new 12v wiring. This also allowed us to update the tail lights/brake light to LED and also install new amber & red LED marker lights and when they were done, those lights are nice and bright! You should definitely update your lights to LED.
We also replaced a few other stock Scamp items here and there, and those were relatively easy to do. Then came the interior. As you can see, the kitchen was totally gross, the lights are all old and original with parts missing, the front bench was cracked, the carpet was super nasty and to me, that spelled “fun project”! I’ll give you more details on all the updates if you scroll down to the “after” photos.
The first thing a lot of people notice is that storage box on the tongue of the Scamp. I built this from scratch using wood and some vinyl sheet product. After drilling holes to feed the wires and gas line, I coated the underside of the storage box with a Bondo All Purpose Resin product to protect it from the elements when driving. The storage box worked out perfectly and it was used to hold and secure the propane tank and the battery, and there was still extra space to store misc other items like some Basic trailer chocks, an Assortment of bungee cords, a 9×12 tarp, etc. We even stored a small battery charger in there, similar to this Schumacher 15 Amp Ship ‘n Shore Battery Charger in case the battery decided to quit on us.
You can also see how nice the new tinted plexiglass windows look and to make sure that front window didn’t get damaged by freeway rocks, I added the rock guard from Scamp.
Inside the Scamp I tossed out the original dining table and replaced it with a new one. The new table is 3/4″ maple plywood stained with Minwax Dark Walnut Stain. I used the original table as the template (using the same technique I mentioned above for cutting out the windows) and then attached some trim (also stained dark walnut) around the edge to hide the plywood edges. The table was finished with a couple coats of Minwax Satin Polycrylic.
The Scamp got all brand new 4-inch thick foam from UFO in Vista. Since I don’t know anything about sewing, I had my wife pull out her Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine and sew some covers for everything using a super cool and modern Nate Berkus print. I love how it looks!
The kitchen area got a complete overhaul as well. I modified and installed an IKEA countertop that extends all the way to the front of the Scamp. This gives extra counter space to put a toaster oven or coffee maker….or both! I also used the scrap from the IKEA counter to use as a short backsplash, and a whiteboard-type product as a backsplash on the kitchen wall. I kept the original Scamp sink, but got rid of the pump-style faucet and installed a Classic Single Handle Faucet instead. Since we ditched the original water tank (it was gross and nasty) we weren’t planning on using it anyway, and I installed a Pressure Regulating City Water Inlet on the outside of the Scamp. Finally, I installed a new Suburban 2-Burner Stainless Cooktop and it looks much much better than the beat up old tan original one, haha!
If you’re familiar with Scamp trailers, you may also be familiar with the original black twisty support bars. I don’t like them and I wanted to change it out to something more unique. To accomplish this, I took some real walnut wood made a chevron pattern support piece. You may notice some colored pieces inlaid into the chevron. Those are pieces of an old skateboard sandwiched between the walnut. As a former skateboarder I felt this was a cool unique personal touch.
I modified the kitchen cabinet area by adding two tilt-down drawers (immediately beneath the sink and cooktop) for silverware, etc. I also modified the large undersink cabinet door. Originally it was two narrow vertical doors, but I removed the center post and made it one large door instead. Everything got new Satin Nickel Hinges and black knobs. I also made all the cabinet doors from scratch so they’d match. The original cabinet doors are this weird fiberboard material with a woodgrain graphic detail. I decided to make all the new cabinet doors in a shaker style. I also ditched the original lights that were mounted on the ends of the upper cabinets and replaced them with these Brushed Nickel LED Directional Reading Lights. If you’re looking for another great option, you may want to consider this slightly larger Nickel Directional LED Reading Light. After we sold this Scamp, we installed those larger reading lights in our new trailer and we love them! That LED light strip you see underneath the cabinets is a simple LED strip from IKEA but you can also use something like this LED Under Cabinet Linkable LED Light Bar, but you should note that those options are powered by shore power, not 12v.
Another update I’m very proud of is the rebuild/replacement of the front bench. As I mentioned before, the original front bench was fiberglass and was cracked in the middle. The door on the original bench always got caught on the floor when trying to open it and it was a real hassle to deal with. I decided to rebuild the front bench from scratch out of wood and I incorporated a full-extension drawer where I’d keep the Trailer Stabilizer Scissor Jacks and other necessary tools. I really like this feature and it proved to be an awesome upgrade!
Since I don’t have any need for the bunk feature of that front bench, I decided to make a spot to put a cooler instead (since the icebox fridge is so small). I did however, keep space for storage on the left and right sides of the bench and those can be easily accessed by removing some lids on either side (one is under that black cushion).
One of my favorite upgrades in this Scamp trailer is the addition of the pull out drawers in the closet area. If you’ve ever seen a normal Scamp closet you know it’s basically just a big empty box. By adding these drawers in the closet, there’s so much more organization! I also cut out a new opening below the original closet door (and made another new door) and added a fifth drawer. This space is normally unused (unless there’s a air conditioner there) so adding this fifth drawer was a much better use of the space. I believe I used 12 Inch Full Extension Drawer Slides for the closet drawers.
I replaced all the lights inside the Scamp with LED lights and it is so so so much nicer now! (go back a couple paragraphs for more info on the lights). While I was working with the electrical stuff, I added a 2nd breaker (since there was an open slot) and added a few extra 110v/115v outlets we can use when hooked up to shore power.
We also ripped out the old nasty carpet and replaced it with new carpet. It was amazing how the smell inside the trailer improved immediately the old carpet was thrown out. Such a huge difference! A lot of Scamp remodels we’ve seen put down pergo flooring or vinyl/laminate style flooring but we chose carpet. The other stuff looks great, but we found the carpet acts as additional sound insulation. Plus it’s much softer on the feet 🙂 Then we topped it off with a new Solid Oak Threshold (stained walnut of course).
Here’s a shot of the Scamp trailer with the rock guard in place. You might also noticed I have 2 lids on the roof. One is for the original escape hatch and the other is the new Maxxair 12V Roof Top Fan/Vent I installed. This was another great install because it serves multiple purposes. First it brings in the cool air from outside. Next, since it has a reverse feature, it acts as a vent for the kitchen (since the kitchen doesn’t have a built in vent). Finally, it’s a nice white noise machine for sleeping at night!
I’m sure there’s something I have forgotten to mention. The following photos are some random iPhone photos I shot along the way during various stages of the remodel. Unfortunately I didn’t photograph every single step, sorry!
Thanks for stopping by and checking out photos of my Scamp Travel Trailer update. This project was a lot of fun and all the hard work paid off when we sold the Scamp to a great new owner. If you have a travel trailer you’re updating (whether it’s a Scamp, or a Boler, or a Casita, or a Shasta, or anything else for that matter) and you’re looking to get it remodeled, please contact me and we can talk about pricing, scheduling and the logistics getting your trailer to me so I can work on it. Currently I do not deal with bodywork/paint or frame/chassis/axle repair. You’re on your own for that stuff but if you’re wanting some custom cabinet doors, drawers, or other mods just let me know what you want and if it’s something I’m able to take on, we can throw around some ideas. I’d love to hear from you!
Stuff Seth Makes specializes in woodworking and is known for creating unique handmade home decor items as well as custom rustic and modern style furniture. Based in Escondido, California but available for nationwide commissions.