Interior panels Part 2 – Cutting – Rear ceiling, side ceiling, and rear strip panels

After cutting the driver side wall panel, I moved on to the baltic birch 5×5 sheets and the rest of the panels.  The basic plan of attack was the same as Part1, but a little forethought is needed during the layout process.  Since the ceiling panels curve when installed and the plywood will only bend in one direction, it is essential that the grain direction of the new panels matches the originals.  The 5×5 sheets will also yield multiple panels, so laying them out before cutting is also important for fit.  This will also help in negotiating any blemishes.

New panel thread

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The 5×5 sheets are a little wide for my 4×8 table, but it worked out just fine as I could only cut one panel at a time.

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Old rear ceiling panel laid out over new ply. This, along with the front ceiling and rear strip panels, curve when installed in the bus. The grain direction MUST match the OG panels or they will not bend adequately.

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Flatten the template in the same manner as part 1.

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Traced and scored with utility knife.

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This is where I switched from the dremel tool to the reciprocating saw because it was better suited for the long runs of the rear ceiling panel. Remember to cut on the outside of the razor slice.

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New panel (right) and old. Not a bad match in terms of pattern and color.

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New panel (left) and old.  This is one of the easier panels to cut; not many curves and no cutouts or screw holes required.  It is a good panel to start with to get the hang of the cutting tool of choice.

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Next came the first of two side ceiling panels that run along either side of the pop top opening. New panel is on the left.

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While most of the panels are easy to recognize once cut, I still labeled the backside of each. It identified the look-a-like panels and helped me keep track of which side was supposed to be the front (side viewed after installation).  SD, if you are wondering, simply means “sliding door” as this side ceiling panel resides above that particular door.

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The last panel to come from this sheet was the strip panel that goes behind the spare tire. The screw holes look larger in the old panel (left) because the screw head crushed the wood around the hole. Screw holes in new panel are 7/64 of an inch and were drilled while the template was still clamped down, prior to cutting.  I did not make the strip panel found on the opposite side of the bus, behind the closet.

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