The basic tools needed for a skoolie conversion.
In the four years and two bus conversions I've done, I've been wanting to share a basic list of the tools I find myself using the most. In my opinion you could easily complete a school bus conversion with just these basic ten tools and a little ingenuity. Skoolie conversions consist of a warfield on metal and a funky sawmill operation on wood.
The task of removing the seats is typically first on the "to-do" followed by removing the subfloors, walls and ceiling. After some preventative measures towards rust and insulating, the real fun begins with attaching wood to metal and designing a functional living space.
Here is my list of what I believe are the top 10 tools to get you started with a school bus conversion.
- Angle Grinder and cut off wheels
~This by far has been the most used tool. It will do just about anything you need done to metal and is a rusted seat bolts worse nightmare. I've been running a Ryobi angle grinder and have beat the snot out of it but it still keeps going. Dewalt, Porter Cable and a few others make angle grinders as well.
A angle grinder and cut off wheel will be the go-to tool for rusted seat bolt removal, rivet removal, rust removal, etc. I'd recommend getting a face shield, dust masks and ear muffs. I've seen cut off wheels blow up and send shrapnel in all directions. Last thing you need is your ugly mug getting any uglier...
~ I recommend the fiberglass handled hammers as opposed to wood. You'll be "hammering away" on a constant basis and having a hammer that can take the abuse will be worth it.
- Tape Measure
~If reading a tape is a daunting thing and calling out fractions sounds like a whole other language then I'd recommend getting one with the fractions clearly printed for you. Work smarter not harder.
- Speed Square or Building Square
~Ok, this could make you confused AF but yes, a "square" is actually a triangle. I presume it gets its name from helping you "find square" when building something that fits together as planned. Anywho, this will help you mark straight or angled lines.
- Rafter Square
~I find this square most helpful with laying out the floor plan or putting up a dividing wall in the bus conversion. If you use this building square throughout your planning and building, you'll notice things line up nicely and come together as hoped for.
- Chalk Line
~The obvious use of this is to mark large sheets for long cuts but you should also be using this inside the bus for things like marking a straight line down the whole length of the bus ceiling so that you have a line to follow when installing the first ceiling board whether tongue and groove or plywood.
- Circular Saw
~This tool if used right can do just about everything you'll need done with wood. With a few hacks it can easily serve the place of a miter saw (chop saw) and table saw.
- Drill Set
~You'll want at least two drills if you want to be efficient with your time. A regular drill and an impact or driver drill. Cordless is obvisouly the way to go but if you're doing a lot of drilling for the day then you may want to also pick up a corded drill for all your pre-drilling. The impact / driver drill will be another favorite tool you come to appreciate as you can pretty much drive a screw into anything.
- Cobalt Drill Bit Set
~Why Cobalt? Because you're going to be drilling into lots of metal and cobalt bits last the longest. Ordering a set as opposed to individual bits is the way to go and ordering a couple extra 1/8 and 7/64 bits is also a wise choice as you'll be using these the most.
- Orbital Sander
~Whether it's sanding the outside of the bus to prep for paint or sanding down cabinets, a palm sander will save you hours or work as opposed to hand sanding.
Now while these are just the basic top tools I'd recommend, there is definetly a much more extensive list of tools that will make your bus conversion much smoother if you have the budget to invest in. Guess I'd better start composing that article!