Steve Frederick’s Shop Manual – A Review by Kerry (toypusher)
This manual is written for the individual that is interested in building his or her own teardrop camper. You do not have to be a ‘skilled woodworker’ to use these guidelines in the construction of a teardrop camper. You just need the desire and determination to build a teardrop. Steve will show you how.
He starts out by explaining how to get an idea of what you want as a profile to a full sized profile on wood. The methods described through out the manual can be used to build any profile, with or without specific plans.
Steve explains the tools and he used and what you will need to build your teardrop. He also lists other tools that would be really nice to have, but are not really needed. Tools are not the only thing either. An explaination of both his shop, and what would be an ideal shop is part of this manual.
He explores the pros and cons of buying or making your own frame to build a teardrop on. He also describes in detail how his frame was constructed. There is a section on a couple of different types of suspension for your trailer.
Build or buy your teardrop? Build from kit or plans? This is covered and discussed to give you some alternate options.
Then Steve gets into how he builds a teardrop camper. His use of patterns and a router are excellent. I would recommend this method to everyone. The extra time spent creating patterns that can be used to make very accurate and repetitive cuts is well spent time. This also includes how to use standard size material that you get a ‘box store’ to make much larger sized sidewalls and floors.
Different types of glues and fasteners and their uses are included to help you make the right decision when constructing your teardrop.
Steve uses a couple of different ways to add decorative detailing. This detailing also helps hide areas that need to be put together when constructing a teardrop that is larger than 4ft by 8ft. (the standard size of plywood).
When starting to build the sidewalls, Steve’s techniques really shine through. I have used these methods and can vouch for the fact that it really simplifies not only construction, but finishing the wood during construction. I built my sidewalls and put the final finish on them and then put the teardrop together. His ‘inside out’ construction methods make life so much simpler. You have free and open access to the entire interior to complete it before you put the headliner and roof on. This makes life (especially for the knees and neck) so much easier. No crawling into a small and cramped space to work on cabinets or to put stain and varnish on the inside. You can do all of that before it gets cramped and small.
His methods of framing the sidewalls allow for a minimum of mechanical fasteners. You probably could get by without any nails or screws, if you really wanted to. Most probably would feel better using some mechanical fasteners and Steve shows you just where they are going to be needed. Steve builds woody’s, but his methods are just as valid for a teardrop that will be covered with aluminum or painted, or any other way of sealing the exterior.
Steve has a unique way of making exterior doors and sealing them that is a good or better than any other method that I have seen. The doors blend with the teardrop, especially on a woody teardrop. Interior doors for the cabinetry are covered also. Stile and rail doors as well as sliders are covered.
Insulation and wiring are a must and Steve shows you how to do this also. Basic and more advanced wiring for the trailer lights that are required by law is explained for you to make it easy to understand.
Steve has developed a galley hatch sealing method that is great and is explained in detail. This section and the entire manual is filled with pictures and drawings that help to clarify all aspects of building. Galley layout is a personal thing for most folks and Steve gives you ideas and methods to construction you galley. This includes cabinetry and also how to have a water supply in your galley, with or without a sink.
Finishing touches are not forgotten by any means, either. Hinges, handles and latches that you will need are all there. And how to keep the hatch up.
There are tons of sources for supplies listed for your needs and wishes. Three classic profiles are included to get you started and they may be all that you will need to build a teardrop.
Last, but certainly not least, is the section on tips and techniques. This is worth the price of the manual almost by itself.
I believe that it is a ‘must have’ for building a teardrop camper and making it the best that you can.
The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten, so build your teardrop with the best materials...