Adding a piano drawer to my camper van

Enjoying my van piano in the Elkhorn Mountains.

We designed our DIY Sprinter van to be a bike hauler with most of the comforts of home. Eight years later, I fell in love with playing piano and needed to figure out how to travel with a piano in the van PLUS bikes.

At first, I simply tossed my keyboard onto the bed and cuddled with it at night. When Chelsea traveled with me, I moved it on and off the bed every day…annnnoying. I needed a long-term solution.

So I built a piano drawer in my van.

The idea is simple enough: I attached a drawer to the underside of the van bed right above the mountain bikes. Figuring out the clearance and finding a piano took some time, but I finally settled on the slim-as-can-be Casio P1000X. At 52″ x 9.1″ x 4”, it wound up fitting perfectly. (Well, I did have to cut a hole in my bike drawer to lower my mountain bike.)

Pro tip: retrofitting is way harder than designing hobbies into a new build upfront. I’ve learned my lesson and shall NEVER AGAIN pick up a new hobby.

NOW my bike will fit with space for the piano drawer.

The piano drawer install

Once I figured out dimensions, the rest was fairly straightforward. After all, a piano drawer is merely a drawer with dimensions to hold a piano!

The faceplate is kinda cool, if I say so myself. I screwed little compression clasps onto the back of a piece of alder wood so that it snaps on and off without needing a visible latch.

The primary components:

  1. Draw slides. I found some inexpensive 4’ drawer slides cheap on Amazon.
  2. Stain: I used low-VOC polyx oil.
  3. Two compression clasps to hold the faceplate on (pictured as installed above).
  4. Some plywood I had plus alder my neighbor had lying around. Thanks Steve!
  5. A cable to connect my piano to my main stereo system so I can blast my Beethoven at distant mountains and enrage campers for miles around.
  6. Some felt for the top/bottom of the faceplate to prevent scratching.

One thing I noticed was a slight sway to the drawer when it’s fully extended. I thought a chock block under the drawer might be necessary, but when I play, my hands steady the side-to-side sway.

All in all, the project was straightforward and worked out exactly as I wanted. I’m pumped to have the piano in the van! Playing it in beautiful places with the door wide open and the view unfolding in front of me simply couldn’t be a better concert hall.

Now I can travel with my favorite things: bikes AND piano. What else does a boy need?

Photo gallery

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