tools needed to convert a school bus

Here are the Top 10 Tools Needed to Convert a School Bus into a Home on Wheels

From time to time we get asked “What are the tools needed to convert a school bus into a home on wheels?” Jeff quickly names off a few and I can see the person’s head spin trying to figure all the information out quickly. So, before anybody loses their head, I thought it was time to just write it all down for the Do-It-Yourself converters.

So, you want to go the Do-It-Yourself route and convert a school bus? Here is a list of the top 10 tools needed to convert a school bus. Having these tools will reduce your frustration, your expenses, and your time.

Why is Missy Writing this Post?

You may be wondering, why is Missy writing this post about tools needed to convert a bus when Jeff is the one who converts the buses. Well, just to put your mind at ease, Jeff did help in the writing of this post. But let me tell you, I know why it is important to have to right tools when converting a bus.

Bear with me a minute and let me explain.

Last weekend, we hopped aboard our bus for a 2 day trip to Carowinds. I knew ahead that we would be cooking dinner when we arrived, so I planned. After I patted out the hamburger meat and put it neatly in a container, I put all the fixings for hamburgers in the bus.

Check marks filled the boxes on my list.

Food and clothes stored neatly away.

Refrigerator locked and microwave in it’s place. (Here is why this is important.)

It was time for the children to pile on the bus and soon we were off.

Once we arrived, Jeff started connecting the bus to shore power and I started dinner. I grabbed the tomato to cut it into slices and looked around for the knife. (After the last trip, I know I washed it and I told a kid to put it in the bus.)


Now, how was I going to cut this tomato without a knife?  Hearing of my situation from outside the bus, Jeff left our campsite to return with a plastic knife.

That’s right a PLASTIC KNIFE!

Have you ever tried to cut a tomato with a plastic knife? Let me tell you it was better than NO KNIFE, but it wasn’t the tool needed for the job! The slices were uneven and in pieces. With the right tool it wouldn’t have taken me as long to cut the tomato and the slices would have looked better.

So, you see – I get the point in having the right tools. The right tool can save you time, and the finished product might not look like a mushy mess. It doesn’t matter if it is a tomato or a bus, you need the right tools for the job at hand.

Tools can be a big investment so it is important to choose the right tools for the right job.

Sometimes, I think …. Why not get a smaller cheaper tool in order to save money. Take it from me. Sometimes that idea will cost you more money and time. Just go ahead a get the right tools needed the first time around. This post is not meant for you to feel like you have to go out and buy each of these tools BEFORE you start your conversion.

Tools are going to be a minor expense compared to the overall cost of the bus conversion.Click To Tweet

Take this list with you to yard sales, flea markets and as you are looking at the sales papers from your local home improvement stores. Does someone you know have the tools you need? Can you rent the tools needed cheaper than buying them? If you have the right tools needed to convert your bus, you will save time and waste fewer materials.

Let’s talk about the Top 10 Tools Needed to Convert a Bus.

#1 Grinder

A grinder is one of the first tools you will use. It is the best tool for removing the seats. Also, it can be used on the floor and exterior of the bus to grind off rust.

#2 Tape Measure and pencil

These really do not need an explanation. You will wear these every day during your conversion.

Get a retractable tape measure that is at least 35 feet.

Just remember the rule, “Measure twice – cut once.”

#3 Table Saw

The Table Saw is a highly versatile tool to have in your shop. A few blades to purchase are an 80-tooth blade (cross-cutting) and a 40-50 tooth blade (ripping and cross-cutting).

tools for bus conversions

#4 Drill with bits

A drill is used for a variety of reasons. The plumbing and electric installation will go lots quicker with the right drill and bits.

#5 Sawzall

When installing a propane box or storage box, the reciprocating saw is a must-have tool to have in your hand.

#6 Air Compressor

Buying an air compressor is an investment that you do not want to skimp on. Jeff recommends no less than an 8-gallon, 1.8 HP 150 psi compressor.

#7 Framing Square/Steel Square

A tool that is helpful when cutting right angles.

#8 Level

When purchasing a level, a 48 inch is a good length but be sure to purchase an 8 inch as well.

#9 Utility Knife

One must-have tool for every work shop is a utility knife or box cutter with a retractable blade. It’s uses are endless.

#10 Staple Gun

Having a staple gun will save you a huge amount of time, especially if you get one that connects to your air compressor.

Having the right tools during a school bus conversion saves you frustration, time, and money.Click To Tweet

Two Most Essential Tools Needed Per Jeff

There is NO WAY Jeff was letting me end this post without telling you the 2 most essential tools needed when converting a bus. The first one you can not buy at the store. Can you guess what it is?


'The number one tool needed for a school bus conversion is not one you can buy. It is common sense!' - JeffClick To Tweet

Jeff’s advice is not to convert a bus without it. If you are lacking in this area, find someone who has this tool. Common sense alone will save you hundreds of dollars and valuable time.

#2 Safety Equipment

Jeff’s advice is DO NOT forget to buy your safety glasses, gloves, ear plugs, and face shield. Unless you just want to add an emergency room bill to your conversion tab, use your safety protection!

Having these tools in your tool box make converting a school bus easier, more accurate, and faster.

Tell me what tools you would add to this top 10 list in the comments below.

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  1. Edward Forrest Frank October 17, 2016 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    I don’t have an air compressor for air tools, and haven’t used a staple gun in my two conversions. I would replace them with a Jig Saw, and a good Caulking gun. I know you left out the generic hammers, screw drivers, paint supplies etc. Those are pretty obvious. Wire strippers are good when doing the electric. PVC cutter when doing the drains (you can use a saw, but a $10 cutter makes is so much easier.), PEX crimper when doing the plumbing if you are going with PEX.

    • discoveringus October 18, 2016 at 12:41 am - Reply

      Hi Edward, Thanks for adding some of your most used tools. Several of the ones you listed are in the Free Checklist at the bottom of this post. If you are interested, just add your email and you can download it. I appreciate you stopping by the blog and commenting.

  2. Terry July 22, 2017 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Battery powered tools with extra batteries is my best tip. No power cords to hassle & hang up.

    Jeff is on target with using Common Sense
    I have an adequate supply of it and still make some hum dinger mistakes.

    • discoveringus July 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      I totally agree about extra batteries for the tools! It is horrible when you are right in the middle of a project and you have to wait for a battery to charge. – Jeff

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