We’re talking specifically about building a Sprinter headliner shelf here, simply because that’s what we have. But there’s no reason these instructions wouldn’t work for any other van type.
Regardless of the vehicle type, space is at a premium in any camper van conversion so it’s important to make the most of what you have available.
Sprinter Headliner Shelf
Our Sprinter van has a high roof with plenty of room to stand up in. Which handily also extends forward into the cab. But being as we only sit in there, the area above our heads makes for the perfect area to create some extra storage space.
Typically called a headliner shelf or overhead cab shelf, adding storage here if you have the space is a no brainer. You can’t put a tonne of weight up there. But it’s great for lighter, bulkier items such as blankets, window blinds and rucksacks etc.
Sprinter Cab Shelf Options
The trickiest part of the whole job is making the template. So if you prefer to dip out on that part you can purchase ready made templates with brackets for most van types. Here’s the link to the headliner shelf template for a Sprinter van.
You can also buy the whole shebang ready made. But at the end of the day, it’s just a shelf and some brackets. So making your own DIY headliner shelf will save you a stack of cash.
There are a couple of different ways of fixing Sprinter over cab storage in place. And these depend on whether it’s a stand alone structure, or part of a partition wall between the cab and living area as ours is.
In this blog post we’ll be running you through how we made the template for our Sprinter van headliner shelf, showing you how we upholstered it and explaining the different options for fixing it securely in place.
Materials & Tools List
- Scrap 6mm plywood
- 12mm plywood
- 4 way stretch carpet
- High temp upholstery adhesive
- Corner brackets
- Wooden battens (25x38mm)
- Self tapping screws
- Contour tool
- Torx socket set
- 12mm Screws
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Sprinter Overhead Shelf Template
Determining the height your Sprinter cab shelf will sit at is crucial in getting the shape of the template accurate. So it’s handy if you already have your brackets before you start. We bought ours after making our headliner shelf and had a hard task finding the right size.
To create the Sprinter headliner shelf template you’re going to need a large sturdy piece of cardboard or similar. Some people also use a piece of spare foam insulation board either.
We first cut a piece of card to the right width and depth. Then used a contour tool to mark out the curves. At that stage, it was just a case of trimming and testing over and over again to get the shape right.
Once we had a good fit, we first transferred the template onto a piece of old spare 6mm ply and tested that. Then transferred that the actual shelf, a 12mm sheet of plywood. It doesn’t want to be a super tight fit if you plan on upholstering it like we did.
Headliner Shelf Upholstery
We opted to cover our homemade Sprinter headliner shelf in (as near as damn it) the same colour interior as our cab upholstery. We used the same 4 way stretch carpet to make our window blinds. And also line around the interior of our sliding side and back barn doors too.
It’s straightforward enough to do as the carpet really does stretch 4 ways. We first cut a piece slightly bigger than one side so that we could fold it over the edge, cutting out a few snips on the corners. This is the side we put face down in the cab as it was the neatest.
The second piece we cut to the exact same size as the template and simply stuck that over the other side. The spray adhesive we used came with the carpet and is designed to withstand high temperatures. It can get seriously hot in the cab with direct sun on it.
Headliner Fixing – Option 1
If you are leaving your cab and living area open, you can just secure the Sprinter headliner shelf brackets to the van interior using existing holes.
You’ll find the first pair behind the coat hooks in the cab. You might be able to simply pull them off. Or you might need the help of a trim tool.
Underneath you’ll find a torx head bolt which if you unscrew will allow you to get behind the B-pillar. The brackets you place here will need to be longer than the next two so that your shelf is level.
The next two brackets will go behind the first bolts of the grab handles. Again torx head fittings. You don’t need to remove everything completely. Just enough so you have room to slip your brackets in. Then just screw the brackets to the shelf to hold in all in place.
You might find that to get the best fit, you need to adjust the angle of the brackets slightly. You can do this by heating them with a blow torch and gently bending them.
If this seems like too much hassle, the brackets that come with the Sprinter headliner shelf kits are already made to measure. So that could be a good option for you instead.
If you plan on having your Sprinter overhead storage shelf open, you’ll want to add a ledge along the back section to stop things just flying off while driving.
As we were fully partitioning our cab off with an insulated wall, we made ours into an enclosed cupboard with an access hatch. Which brings us onto the next fixing option.
Overhead Shelf Fixing – Option 2
The structure of our partition wall between the cab and living area includes three horizontal wooden battens screwed into the metal of the van. So we simply added one at the height we wanted our Sprinter headliner shelf and used that to support the back of the shelf.
Word of caution here, when screwing in the wooden battens. Be aware that the columns you are screwing into also contain your seatbelts. Speaking from experience here, putting a screw through one creates an extra job you really don’t need.
To support the front of the headliner shelf we placed brackets in the existing holes of the grab rails and screwed them into the shelf. It’s easier to screw them into the shelf first.
As mentioned, because our Sprinter over cab storage forms part of partition wall structure, we enclosed the shelf with another piece of 12mm plywood and put an access hatch in it.
We’re super happy with how our Sprinter van overhead storage turned out. wWe think it looks so smart and it’s such a good use of space.
As usual, get in touch in the comments if you have any questions. And if you have any other handy Mercedes Sprinter storage ideas drop them down there too!
- Sprinter Headliner Shelf: How To Build One
- DIY Sprinter Roof Rack: Design & Install
- Camper Van Flooring: Options & Installation Tips