12 Essential Powers Tools You Should Use to Convert a Van

Salty Vanventures
by Salty Vanventures

Today, I'm going to show you all the power tools I used for my Ford transit van conversion. I use Ryobi because they are less expensive than other brands but are pretty good quality. They also helped me reduce the cost of my Ford transit van conversion. Let's get started.

Table saw

Tools used to convert a van

1. Table saw or miter drop saw

When you’re building a camper, a lot of it is made out of plywood, MDF, or some type of flat panel wood that you’ll need to be able to cut through. You will want to be able to cut it in long straight lines. A table saw is one of my favorite pieces of equipment to use for doing this. It’s essential to have either a table saw or miter drop saw to cut the bulk of your timber. A table saw is more versatile than a miter drop saw. 

2. Circular saw

With a skill saw or circular saw, you can make nice straight cuts. You can build yourself a really cheap, easy straight edge out of plywood to help you make straight cuts.

Using a circular saw's straight edge

Using the straight edge

It tracks through on the side of your table to make a straight cut. Just clamp this down to make your straight edge on the piece you want to cut.

Chopping wood with a circular saw

Chopping wood

A circular saw is great if you want to chop up something really quick, especially easy if it’s a cordless saw. The great thing about my power tools is that they are all cordless because they are practical and go where you need them.

Power drills

Using a power drill

3. Power drill

Power drills are essential. I have a cordless drill and impact driver. Sometimes they are sold as a kit because they are handy when you use them together. A drill will allow you to put in drill bits like flatheads. It also has an adjustable clutch with variable speeds.

Using an impact driver

4. Impact driver

An impact driver is great when you need to put in screws or use it with a socket. A lot of the time you’ll be doing pre-drilling and screwing. If you only have one of these tools, you’ll be doing a lot of bit changing. They work great if you have your Phillips-heads in your impact driver and your drill bit in your drill. 

Jigsaw power tool

Using a jigsaw tool

5. Jigsaw

My next favorite tool is a jigsaw. It cuts a lot of different materials, including wood and aluminum in all different directions, even diagonal. You can get a bunch of different blades for them, including a wood blade that cuts rough or fine, small blades for really tight turns, and big blades for long straight cuts.

It’s great for building vans because a lot of your cuts are not straight and are curved around bends, especially around the floors and corners on the roof. 

Cutting sheet metal with a jigsaw

Cutting sheet metal

When cutting through the van’s sheet metal panel work, this tool can help make long, straight cuts.

Angle grinder tool

6. Angle grinder

When you need to cut other metal panel work or some rusted screws that are stuck, that’s when you need an angle grinder that can reach these areas. 

Using an angle grinder to cut windows

Cutting windows

It has a cut-off bit and we used it when we were cutting our windows on the side of the van where we couldn’t get the jigsaw in there and we used it to cut the hole in the side of the van for our gas box where the jigsaw just wouldn’t fit. 

Angle grinder attachments

Angle grinder attachments

An angle grinder comes with a bunch of attachments, from sanding, grinding, and polishing discs to do a range of work. You need an angle grinder to build a van of high caliber.

Power sander

Using a power sander for the van conversion

7. Power sander

A power sander gives your van a professional look. A random orbital sander spins in circles in different directions to prevent scratching wood against the grain. I use this extensively for sanding plywood, tabletops, and rough edges of wood after cuts. 


8. Dustbuster

A dustbuster makes it easier to clean up the mess you made working on the van.

Cordless blower

9. Cordless blower

This is great to clean up a bunch of sawdust.

Vibrating multi-tool

10. Vibrating multi-tool

This tool makes nice, precise little square cuts that other tools can’t. Use this to cut straight into a panel of wood that you’ve already screwed into the van and don’t want to remove to make the cut.

Cordless nail gun

11. Cordless nail gun

This tool is expensive but I got my money’s worth by using it making the cabinets and seats. I was able to glue and nail plywood together rather than screw and nail. This tool speeds up your build and saves a little bit of money on screws because the nails you put into this tool are cheap.

Trim router

12. Trim router

This versatile tool is good for rounding edges. This tool gives you a much more professional feel to your build than sandpaper. There are plenty of bits to get, such as round, angle, dovetail, or square bits, which will make your life easier.

Batteries for power tools


Because my arsenal of tools is mostly cordless, I have spare batteries that last for a day or two. You can buy after-market batteries that can cost a little less than the manufacturer’s own brand of batteries. They are just as good quality for a fraction of the price. 

Power tools used to convert a van

That was the essential list of tools I used for building my van. Let me know if this has helped you get an idea of what you’ll need for your van conversion. Also, let me know if you have any other essential tools you’ve used for your conversion that aren’t on this by commenting below.

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