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INTERIOR, Making door panels

Discussion in 'Tech Archive' started by Automotive Stud, Mar 7, 2006.

  1. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    Ok, again I'll have to apologize in advance for the lack of pictures. I took more but I can't find them.

    I had original panels in my '47 Ford that were covered in cheap vinyl a long time ago. It was time to do something nice. Under the vinyl the original cardboard was good for templates.

    I got most of my supplies from a local upholstery shop who doesn’t mind helping do it yourselfers. I used a heavy cardboard he had just for this sort of thing, but you could use masonite or thin aluminum just the same. The cardboard was 4' x 3' sheets, $12 each. So it took a sheet for each door, and one sheet was barely able to do both rear panels. A fourth sheet did the kick panels. I used another 3 sheets to redo the trunk cardboard, but I didn't cover that in vinyl (yet!)

    He also supplied me with marine grade vinyl. I used pre rolled and pleated stuff that is foam backed for the bottom, and smooth vinyl for the top. I also picked up some 1/4" foam to put behind the smooth stuff to give it a nice feel. I used some 3m trim adhesive from napa and a quart of rubber contact cement.

    Lets get to work. I set up the full sheet of cardboard on top of a clean sheet of plywood on some sawhorses in the middle of the garage so I could work around it. Start by tracing the patterns onto the new cardboard that is your door panel. Mark any holes that will need to be put in. The cardboard cut pretty easy with a few passes of a new utility knife. To make the holes I used a gasket punch at first, and for the larger holes, but for small door panel clip holes I just drilled 1/2" holes like the original had, and cleaned the edge with a sharp knife. You'll want all the holes drilled before you move on.

    My door panels use a piece of stainless trim that I wanted to separate the smooth from the rolls & pleats. I marked the line where it needed to be on the panel itself. Very important that this line is accurate on all 4 pieces. Again, having the originals as a guide was nice.
    I started with the rolls & pleated material. On the kick panels I made sure I started at the back edge and worked forward, and with the door panels I started with the front edge and worked back. Where these two panels meet will be pretty obvious, and I wanted the seams to line up nice there.

    Cut the vinyl so there is about 2 or 3 inches of overhang all around, except at the top edge where it meets the line, just make sure that is real straight. If you look at the back of this rolled and pleated material, you'll see each is stuffed with it's own foam. On the top edge I cut the foam out of the top 1/2" all across, so the vinyl here will lay flatter where it will meet the smooth. More on that later...

    When your sure your set, spray the bottom half of the panel with the 3m adhesive and lay the vinyl on. A helper is nice but not required. Remember to start at the edge that will show the most and work the other way, pulling the vinyl tight and straight and push it tight. It will set pretty quick.

    When that's set a bit, flip it over so your' looking at the back of the panel. All the extra foam you see hanging over has to be cut out. I used scissors. There should now be about 2 or 3 inches of vinyl overhanging the panel. cut the extra vinyl from the corners so it doesn’t bunch up when you fold it over the panel. Use the contact on both the panel and the back side of the extra vinyl, let it sit, and fold the edges over tight. Tape helps hold it, and this probably won't be set till overnight. This part is the bitch because the edges don't like to stay put where you glue them until they are dry.

    While that's setting up, you can start on the smooth part at the top. Cut a piece of the 1/4" foam the exact shape it needs to be on the front of the panel, you don't want any overhang on the foam. If there are any door handles or window cranks, cut a hole in the foam now, this will give that nice padded look with the handles sunk in just a hair. Then cut out the smooth vinyl, again, leaving 2 or 3 inches of overhang. Use the spray glue to glue the smooth vinyl to the foam. Fold the bottom edge around the vinyl and glue it to the back, this is where it meets the rolls and pleats, leave the other edges loose.

    After all this has set up you can glue the smooth vinyl with the padding you added to the top of the door panel, use the edge you overlapped to overlap the rolls & pleats with, and overlap the two by about 1/4 to 1/2"
    Now you can flip it over again, and fold over these edges like you did with the bottom half, glue them with the contact cement.
    Now the seam should look presentable as is, but I had the moldings to put back on anyway. They had pins on the back to bend over, so I just pushed them firmly to punch through the vinyl and cardboard, and bent them over from behind.

    Finally I glued some clear plastic like they sell for seat and table covers onto the back with contact cement to help keep moisture out. I picked up a few bags of door panel clips at napa and used them to pop into the original holes. I put a screw in each bottom corner for good luck.
    I used the same techniques to roll & pleat the package shelf.

    Now, get to work!

    First pic: the cardboard
    2rd: smooth vinyl
    3th: About the right overhang on this
    4th: I think this has a nice look, just the right amount of padding around the handles
    5th: Here's the ede without the trim, not bad
    6th: Here's the one panel installed, you can see my other panels in the works on the table in back
    7th: Here's what I meant about having a nice edge where the door and kickpanels meet

    Attached Files:

  2. 47bob
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    Las Vegas, NV

    47bob Member

    Thank you Stud.........I'm saving this will do my '47 when the time comes. Bob
  3. Packrat
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    near Lebanon, Mo.

    Packrat Member

    Looks great, what'd you use to fasten 'em to the doors? :D
    Sorry, upon reading it again I see my answer.
  4. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    Just regular door panel clips. Sorry it's long and kinda runs together, but I tried to get everything. Anyway, total cost was about $200 for the front and rear panels and kick panels and package shelf, took less than 2 weeks working at night after work and a weekend. And everything is new.
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  5. hillbillyhell
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    hillbillyhell Member

    That's pretty tits! I didn't even know you could get pre pleated stuff! I have head good luck making panels out of really thin luan, I guess it's 3/16 or so, came from the local home improvement megaopolis.

    Can you do me a favor and tell me more about the join between the flat sections and the rolled and pleated sections? It looks like they're sewed together from the rear, but I read enough to know they're not....I think maybe it's one of those things that'd make 100% more sense to me if I saw it done once :D
  6. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    Ok, I took some of the stuffing out from the rolls and pleats so they'd lay flat to the board at the top edge, then glued it down.

    On the top half, I glued the smooth to some foam backing. The bottom edge of the smooth vinyl is wrapped around the foam and glued to the back of the foam like the other edges are glued around the cardboard. The three other edges of the smooth get glued around the cardboard, not the foam piece.

    Then you take the bottom smooth edge of this and overlap a little where the rolls and pleats are flattened a bit.

    Did this help? I can take a few scraps and take a picture.
  7. hillbillyhell
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    Roanoke, VA

    hillbillyhell Member

    Yeah, actually, I get it perfectly now. Upholstery is one of the few things we don't do in house here...Here's hoping you just saved me a couple grand :D
  8. chuckspeed
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    chuckspeed Member

    60's style - if this were a democracy, this thread emerges as a front runner in my book...

    I'm at this point in job, and the local shop would charge LOTS more for the same result!
  9. Squablow
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    Potter, Wis

    Squablow Member

    Where did you get this pre-sewn stuff from? That'd save a ton of sewing, I've never seen it before. Of course, we don't have any real upholstery stores around here either. Can I ask what did that stuff cost?

    Good tech piece too, I'd also like to know how you made a nice seam between the pleats and the flat vinyl without sewing it together.
  10. Armstrong
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    Apr 17, 2004
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    Western North Dakota

    Armstrong Member

    I have another small bit of info. For backing on door panels I have used the fiberglass panels that you see in the home stores that are meant to be used on bathroom walls. It's cuts easily,is flexible,holds a staple well and spray glue sticks to it well. It's also waterproof and can be sanded on the edges to get a pefect fit.
  11. PBRmeASAP
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    PBRmeASAP Member
    1. Sock Fuckers Car Club

    Very cool tech, was just planning on the same tech myself....
    got any pics of the rolled material, didn't do it with mine, didn't know there was such a thing available to the public....
  12. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    Squablow, there are a couple of upholstery shops near here, but only one would bother with just selling me materials. It was all marked marine grade, and I'm close to the water. Maybe they make it mostly for boats.

    Price was about $200 for everything like I said, with the cardboard costing $12 a sheet, using 4 sheets inside, that's $152 for the rest, the rolled & pleated, the foam, and the smooth vinyl. The roll of rolls & pleats was about 4' wide, and I got about 12 feet or so. I don't have any of that left, but I do have some extra cardboard scraps, and some big pieces of foam and smooth vinyl, so it was pretty reasonable I think.

    I don't have any left to take a picture of, so here's the edge of my package shelf so you get the idea of the top and bottom. Then there are some more closeups of the seam where you overlap the vinyl wrapped foam over the rolls and pleats, and the last is the back of the kick panel, pretty much what they all look like on the back, except I put clear plastic over the others to protect from moisture.

    Attached Files:

  13. wz56km
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    Grand Blanc, Mi

    wz56km Member

    This is a 10 star TECH! I just did a quick google search and found a place online that sells pre-pleated vinyl fabric:

    http://www.snapfastener.com/vinyl.htm

    There is a ton of other places listed to.
  14. earl schieb
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    earl schieb Member

    Which number 3M spray adhesive did you use? (There's more than one...and some guys don't know that :eek: ) Good info to know...:D

    Another reason to love tech week! ;) Thanks for sharing.
  15. 1LowSled
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    WV

    1LowSled Member

    Absolutely awesome thread. Anyone who's a do-it-yourselfer rules in my book...way to go. I'll be doing this in the old Merc and saving a ton of money. One question. Is this stable to mount your armrest to or do you screw it into the door itself?1LowSled
  16. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    Yes, I used my original arm rests and they are just as solid. They have 3 screws that hold them to the panel, but there is a metal hook that goes through the panel and hooks into the door, that's where the strength comes from. Just make sure you catch the hook into the door as your hanging the door panel. I think most arm rests have some way to attach to the metal door and not rely on the door panel for strength.

    Attached Files:

  17. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    08088 General Trim Adhesive. It set pretty quick too. I almost used the super adhesive, for underhood mats and vinyl tops, stronger is better, right? But then I saw it said it will eat foam, I didn't want that, so I stepped down a notch.
  18. cosmo
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    cosmo Member

    The numbers have changed, but I definitely recall that the old #8080 would not hold up under heat, so was not good for interiors. I used the old #8090, and that worked fine.
    I'm assuming the #8088 IS the old #8090.

    Thanks again, this is timely for me as well...

    Cosmo
  19. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    There was at least 3 different grades of 3m adhesive. I used the best one that didn't say it could eat at the foam.

    It goes without saying, but you could get pretty wild with these techniques. After my dad saw it he wants to redo his A, and I have some new ideas for that. I think you could probably get real fancy and even add some curves and things around window cranks that could flow into the kick panel. You could also carpet the bottom. For white, this marine stuff cleans easy tho
  20. reborn55
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    reborn55 Member

    Excellent article
  21. LongT
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    Allentown, PA

    LongT Member

    Thanks for the article. I'm in the middle of making door panels for my T. Using 1/8" luan. This is going to help.

    Bill
  22. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    Ok, I found a scrap of the rolls & pleats, and everyone asked so I figured I'd show it. First we see the front, then the back, then a closeup of the grain and fake stitching in front, and a look at the foam on back.

    Now, this is what you do when you need to fold the stuff over the edge of your board, you need to cut the padding out. It is only glued along the seams, so it's pretty easy to cut the foam out of here.

    Where the top of the rolls & pleats meet the smooth vinyl, I cut a little of the foam out at the very top, as you can see in this pic. That way, when you glue this stuff to your board, it lays flatter at the top, and it doesn't lump up where you overlap your smooth vinyl.

    Attached Files:

  23. Haunted Ken
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    Haunted Ken Member

    Great Thread, perfect timing, this was going to be my weekend project anyways, now maybe it will look good when I am done after reading this.....
  24. JaBoney
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    Island of Long, NY USA

    JaBoney Member

    Super Tech article! I just ordered my door panels out of ABS plastic along with "Groovey Baby" Leopard skin velour fabric and realy cool seat covers in brown 'leather look' rolled & pleats with French Stitching along with rebuild kits from www.rodinteriors.com

    Only bummer is 4-5 week delivery time frame.
  25. 4tford
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    Hartland, michigan

    4tford Member

    Squablow, I just ordered an interior kit from choprods who just got into selling this stuff he has the materials to cover the door panels and seats at reasonable prices. pm him he can tell you more.
  26. Landmule
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    Apr 14, 2003
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    Laramie, Wyoming

    Landmule
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Great Tech!
    I'm in the process of doing my 47! This is a great help.
  27. peteynj
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    Jersey

    peteynj Member

    thanks ...
  28. roadstar
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    automotive wasteland (Detroit)

    roadstar Member

    Great tech post. I would like to see more interior how to's here, it's not real difficult once you have the basics.
  29. Automotive Stud
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    Automotive Stud Member

    Thanks. I thought this was good because it doesn't require any special tools or sewing skills. I'm sure anyone on this board could tackle this job. All it takes is patience.

    That vinyl comes in different colors also, and there's an endless number of patterns or designs you could come up with.
  30. Jackbolt
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    Walker,West Virginia

    Jackbolt Member

    Anybody else find online sources for this foam backed pleated material?

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