Bulkhead We wanted to make sure the Bulkhead was designed sufficiently enough to handle the lateral forces the side walls will be subject too. I have heard of some old original Teardrops having a cable with turn buckles holding the sides plumb. Since the top kitchen cabinet is close to the center of the body, this would be the likely place to add the required support. We used 1/2" Poplar plywood as the top cabinet face and will be laminated with Filon. This was glued and screwed to the back 3/4" x 3 1/2" Poplar counter support brace and 3/4" x 1 1/2" Poplar side nailers. The lower portion of the Bulkhead was left open so we can install the interior sides, insulation and floor. We'll cut out the cabinet door openings as soon as we purchase these doors.
Kitchen Cabinet The top cabinet's dimensions are 55 1/2"W x 21"H x 12"D. We framed it with 3/4" x 1 1/2" Poplar and the interior cabinet face is 1/2" Oak plywood and the door openings will be cut out later. We could have used 1/2" Poplar plywood but it would have required 1/8" Oak to be laminated to it's surface. Oak plywood has no voids in the plys and is very solid and strong. Since there was a 1 1/2" void under the 1/2" Poplar bottom of the cabinet, we filled it with Polystyrene foam and covered it with 1/8" Oak paneling. The foam will add support for the thin paneling when kicked with our feet while sleeping. The interior sides of the cabinet will have 1" rigid foil faced foam for insulation. The bottom half of the Bulkhead is a removable piece of 1/2" Oak plywood.
Side Insulation John Mansfield 1" foil faced rigid foam was used for the side insulation. We chose this product because it will add stiffness to the 1/8" Oak paneling while leaning against it. This foam has double the "R" rating as Polystyrene and over double it's price. It's very rigid and was cut using a long bladed utility knife. This rigid foam was actually fun to work with and easy to shape. We filled in all the voids created by the nailers that we installed earlier. The wiring for the ceiling lights was routed around the edges of the sides and terminated in the bottom kitchen cabinet. 3M Super 77 spray adhesive was used where needed to hold the foam in place.
Interior Paneling The 1/8" Oak plywood was hand selected out of the large pile available at Home Depot. I did get some ugly looks from their employees while doing this but had to be done. I first made a template out of cardboard and traced the radius curves and obstacles using a compass and transferring the measurements 2" under the actual dimensions. I cut out the cardboard then traced the pattern to the 1/8" Oak plywood using the compass with 2" added to the mark. Measure twice and cut once? Not in this step. Measure 20 times! After making a pencil line on the paneling, I used a utility knife to score the line which keeps the top ply of the plywood from splintering [thanks Bob Vila!]. We only had to remove the window side panel 4 times out under the counter top to trim to fit. The door side was only twice. I held the panels in place while Diane traced the window and door for cutting. Liquid Nails was applied to the nailers and rigid foam then the edges were nailed into the nailers. The door and window openings were then finished off using a router with a 1/2" carbide laminate finishing bit. Diane applied one coat of Minwax Poly Shades stain and polyurethane and sanded using 003 steel wool after it dried. Then we applied 2 more coats and steel wooled it between coats [2 quarts total]. You wouldn't believe how solid the sides are. The insulation will sound proof our Tear too. Now only Diane can hear my snoring!
Head Board We decided not to add a Head Board cabinet because the loss of interior room. This created a problem because the bottom 16" of the front panel was made using 2 pieces of scrap 1/8" Oak plywood. Since this was glued and screwed into place, it would be impossible to remove it without damaging things. We decided to add a little fancy touch by adding a Adirondack Oak Wainscot bead board paneling. This packet of 5/16" x 3" tongue and grove planks [$30.00 Home Depot] and chair crown moldings [$26.00 Home Depot] was the answer to our problem. We loved the finished looks of this idea and it turned a mistake into a unique touch to our interior decor.
Siding Prep We used Durham's Water Putty [$2.00 Home Depot] to fill all the knot and screw holes in the plywood sides. I've heard people using bondo on wood. Bad idea, bondo is made for metal plus Durham's is a fraction of the cost. Durham's product is wonderful and fun to work with. It looks like yellow flour and you add water to it until it has a consistency of peanut butter. It dries in 30 minutes or so and it does not shrink. Only one application is required if done right. It's harder than the wood you're applying it too and it will hold a screw better than the wood. The next step we'll be installing the Filon exterior siding so smoothing out the body is required so no imperfections will show through to the Filon.