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Technical Making a wooden dash. What wood to use?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by evintho, Jan 30, 2017.

  1. Roupe
    Joined: Feb 11, 2006
    Posts: 721


    About $1000 to restore the interior wood on a 13' Whaler around here. I did my own with 10 coats of marine varnish.
  2. CoolYourJets
    Joined: Dec 16, 2016
    Posts: 172


    This is great @Blake 27. I really like the angle you built in -- I'm going to have to cheat off your work.
  3. panel.jpg Years ago when I was building WWl airplanes (replicas 80%), I'd build the instrument panel from .125 aluminum, 6061-T6, fit all the gauges & switches then disassemble and glue wood veneer onto the aluminum, let it set for a few days then cut out for the instruments, finish in the color (stain) and seal with a clear. The picture is of a Fokker D7 panel I did for a friend.
  4. oldolds
    Joined: Oct 18, 2010
    Posts: 3,129


    I used to do a bit of wood projects. Sometime I would buy odd wood cut offs on Ebay. There were a fair amount of people selling exotic wood on there. I have not looked at that stuff for a few years.
  5. nunattax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2011
    Posts: 2,511


    spalted beech is interesting stuff no two pieces are the same[​IMG]
  6. cherry should be available at home cheapo.........
  7. nunattax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2011
    Posts: 2,511


    co[​IMG]comes to life when you seal it .
    Hotdoggin DaddyO likes this.
  8. Seepwater
    Joined: Aug 13, 2006
    Posts: 169


    being a cheap bastard I used oak from a pallet. Planed it to 3/8", Cut holes with hole saws and router.
  9. evintho
    Joined: May 28, 2007
    Posts: 1,680


    Thanks for all the replies! I like the looks of these two, especially the first one. Some great ideas too! Like some nice veneer over cabinet grade plywood. I'll keep my eyes on CL and check garage sales for a table leaf or two. The car is a '27 roadster and paint will be flat black w/flames. Not certain on the interior yet, though.


    clunker, CoolYourJets and kiwijeff like this.
  10. 31Truckster
    Joined: Jan 26, 2017
    Posts: 12


    Just my 2 cents but I think birds-eye maple would look classy.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Hotdoggin DaddyO likes this.
  11. badvolvo
    Joined: Jul 25, 2011
    Posts: 472


    I used local walnut on our 36 truck floors, and a little trim on the door panels. The floor, coated with spar urethane, is holding up very well. It's a flatbed with ipe on the bed, so the walnut matched up pretty well. However, I used teak oil on the bed, have to re-coat it too often, going to put spar on it as well.
  12. I buy my specialty wood from Wall lumber mail order. He is a great guy and will work with you to get the perfect piece for your project or a truck load of dimensional lumber. I bought all the wood for this 10' long mahogany panther which I plan to dedicate to my high school @ our 50th class reunion in September. I bought several of what Wall calls 'UPS' bundles of 2" mahogany (I think they are 75#, as much as the UPS guy can carry!) but he will sell you a single board too.

    He carries all the usual suspects like maple, oak, cherry, etc., but also as a big selection of exotics like Bloodwood, Canarywood, Bubinga, Jabolta, Lacewood, Paduk, Purpleheart, Zebrawood, etc.

    clunker likes this.
  13. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 7,118

    anthony myrick

    my favorite wood is 18 gauge cold rolled
    CoolYourJets likes this.
  14. CowboyTed
    Joined: Apr 27, 2015
    Posts: 341


    I made this dash for an OT car out of curly maple, to replace a factory plywood dash that was clad in formica with fake wood grain. The maple was cheap, maybe thirty dollars for the board, and ten bucks more to have it planed down to the right thickness, so all the gauges would mount just like they did in the factory plywood dash.

    I cut all the holes for the gauges using a simple jig saw, and mounted the gauges right on the surface of the flat wood panel. The cutouts don't need to be perfect that way, since the gauge bezels hide the edges of the cutout holes. I used a simple sanding block to round-over the outside edges, to give the wood a finished look and show the depth of the panel, as well as to show that it was solid wood rather than plywood.

    I used solid curly maple board, planed down to about 5/8 thick. I laid out my cauges and idiot lights on the board so that the best grain pattern was left in the open areas of the glove box lid and the center of the dash, and the less interesting grain got cut out for the gauge mounting points.

    After shaping and test fitting was done, I wiped it with a light golden stain, then linseed oil, then spar varnish. The linseed oil really makes the curly grain eye-popping in a way that plain varnish does not achieve. I did the work about fifteen years ago, and it still looks good today, despite being in a convertible and exposed to lots of UV light through the years. The wood on the door panels, done the same way, still looks good too, but the horizontal piece on the console has faded slightly in the sunlight.


    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
    clunker likes this.
  15. clunker
    Joined: Feb 23, 2011
    Posts: 1,612

    from Boston MA

    Cool, go for it. Cabinet grade plywood may delaminate with moisture or humidity. The glue they use is not waterproof.

    You might think about ordering some marine-grade plywood instead of cabinet grade. The glue used to manufacture marine-grade is waterproof. If you laminate veneer onto it, look into using water proof phenolic glue (Titebond 3), and the technique with the common household iron
    Any veneered furniture or cabinet grade plywood may delaminate when exposed to any moisture or humidity, but you might get lucky. Solid wood will not have this problem.

    Good luck, let us see some picks as you do it.
  16. clunker
    Joined: Feb 23, 2011
    Posts: 1,612

    from Boston MA

    Nice work, that tiger maple looks awesome.
    CowboyTed likes this.
  17. dash2.jpg Cherry border with an engine turned insert.
  18. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,208

    Ned Ludd

    Solid wood with a varnish or sealant is best varnished or sealed on the back as well as the front, lest the back absorb more atmospheric moisture and the wood cup as a result. The same applies to a lesser extent to ply, though the right-angle crossed grains will tend to balance the direction of cupping. Thus even marine-grade ply can delaminate, not due to the adhesive dissolving but due to opposing cupping forces between adjacent plies physically pulling the plies apart. Best would be marine-grade ply treated both sides.
  19. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,037


  20. 38caddy
    Joined: Mar 15, 2006
    Posts: 62

    from RI

    If I was handy with metal forming, I would make a metal dash with recesses and glue in wood inlays. Alternate to that, glue veneer to metal panels with some kind of spring clip or tab retaining system so you can remove them, if needed. The great thing about the veneer option, if you're not an experienced woodworker, is that you can buy all sorts of wood veneers mail-order for much less than it would cost for you to buy and mill the solid wood.
  21. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 28,508


    If you will have the edges of the "wood" covered or behind a metal panel I'd take a look at the offerings in the laminate flooring section of the home repair box stores or the local flooring stores. A crap load of selections as far as wood look goes, dirt cheap if you just buy a single board out of their singles rack and reasonably tough to handle being in a roadster exposed to what ever. You are limited to putting the gauges on top as in the red roadster in post 39 but that is the way a lot of guys do anyhow. Bad part is just like plywood you don't want the edges to show.
  22. some ideas:inset with a painted panel: images.jpeg
  23. surface mounted, 38_Bugatti-57C_Stelvio-DV-12-GCP-i03.jpg black faced gages:
  24. Bevel routed across bottom, metal finished inset. bugatti-dashboard-by-jhcarr830-on-deviantart-1619831.png
  25. i like the stainless or chrome trim on the edge of this one: 1938-bugatti-type-57c-atalante-dashboard.jpg
    bct likes this.
  26. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,889

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    OT car, but nice work on a 70 Impala I did the body and paint on. Solid Birdseye Maple, with Walnut accents. Accented the steering wheel, and door panels, and made lock buttons, too! Done over 12 years ago, but still looks great. Urethane clearcoated (HOK, IIRC) Ron_Dash 001.jpg
    tb33anda3rd likes this.
  27. joeycarpunk
    Joined: Jun 21, 2004
    Posts: 4,445

    from MN,USA

    I like wood inserts in dashes and dashes accented with wood. Some all
    wood dashes look cheap and kit like in my opinion. Really exotic grains can be over powering in appearance depending how much is used such as the entire dash board.
  28. patterg2003
    Joined: Sep 21, 2014
    Posts: 673


    The wood wrapped with a chrome or stainless piece or a metal instrument panel on wood looks like an OEM type build.

    A left turn into a ditch on this subject but if brainstorming wood options. A well done wood grain metal dash looks great and at home. Some paint and experimenting could be fun way to finish a dash to get a good look if there is a good dash to start on..

    Hamber gallogiro showed his process to woodgrain a dash on his 59 Impala and subsequent threads. There is lots of information & techniques out there.
    This is a system but many accomplish the same effect with brushes, rags, combs etc. Hardware stores used to carry woodgrain kits
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  29. Drewski
    Joined: Feb 22, 2008
    Posts: 274


    When I first got my F100, the instrument panel had been really butchered up. I decided to use a wood insert and go with new gauges. I cut several sample blanks in cherry, walnut and oak


    Decided on the cherry and applied finish.




    Leakie, tb33anda3rd and patterg2003 like this.
  30. 5window
    Joined: Jan 29, 2005
    Posts: 7,958


    Dash Model A.JPG I used curly maple, kiln dried then dried for 2 years before I got to it. I traced a '32 dash panel then modified it for the pattern. I used bi-metallic hole saws for the gauges (Faria auto gauges), lighted toggles for the switches and had a local graphics shop make the id plates for me. The drop down heater control panel is a modified fuel filler door.

    You definitely want a hardwood. Well dried and well finished and it should not warp. If you want 1" final thickness, you'll need to purchase 5/4 thickness stock and then plane it down to what you want. View attachment 3444700
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017

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