You will need: a 2mm aluminum sheet
2 pcs. 4mm hex-head bolt
A sheet of wood veneer that most closely matches your existing dashboard.
Glue. I use Araldit slow drying epoxy glue.
Clear 2 component top coat as used over metallic jobs. This is durable and matches
the topcoat on your wooden panels well.
Make a pattern in cardboard using the drawing, and check that it fits your car.
It may be necessary to adjust size for your car, especially the opening for the
heater control panel.
When your pattern fits, transfer it to a 2mm aluminum sheet and cut out leaving
one mm each direction to clean up the cut with a file. Make a gentle bend below
the radio cutout, along the indicated line. If your bend comes out sharp, use a
file to round it off. Then make a trial fit of it before continuing.
Drill the two 4mm holes.
Also drill a 4mm hole in the center of a 10mm dia. steel rod or bolt,
and file it flat on that end. You will use this bolt as a die.
Put this bolt in a vice with the hole facing up.
File off some of the head of a 4mm hex head bolt.
The aim is that the hex head should be 1mm high.
Stick the bolt through the hole in the aluminum plate facing
away from the front of the panel.
Then stick the 4mm bolt into the hole in the 10mm rod, and hammer down
the head of the 4mm bolt into the aluminum until it's flush with the
You will probably need to clean up the edge of the panel as it will
be bulging out where the metal were squeezed.
Do the same with the other 4mm bolt.
Rub down the aluminum to give the glue a good purchase.
Make a jig for the veneering job. Use two pieces of wood and nail one of them down
on a larger surface. Then nail down the other one along the first, but propped up
at the other end to make the correct angle matching your aluminum panel.
Lay down the aluminum panel on your jig and hammer in two nails touching the
end of it to act as locating pegs.
Lay a piece of cloth out over your jig to make a soft surface, and a piece of
waxed paper on top of this again to make sure any stray glue will not make any
disasters. Cut off the locating pegs so they don't stick up more than 1mm.
Cut out the veneer to match the panel. Make it somewhat larger than needed.
Mix the glue and spread it sparingly on the aluminum panel.
If you use too much, it may creep through cracks in the veneer and show up
as a blot on the finished panel. If it's not evenly spread, it will show
as a bulge on the finished panel. Turn the panel over and put it down on your jig.
Make sure it abuts the locating pegs. This will ensure the bend in your panel will
match that of the jig. Put some heavy objects on top of the panel to make sure the
veneer is firmly pressed against the panel. Let it sit until you're sure the glue
has hardened. If you have a limited size of veneer sheet, you should make some
smaller test panels as training for the real one. This is probably the most difficult
operation of the whole project.
Now it's time to trim the veneer to the same size as the aluminum.
I use a scalpel for this. It's a very useful tool. So if you don't have one, go buy it.
Don't try to cut up to the edge all in one go. Trim off thin strips as they will then easily
break away from the rest. Put the panel back down on your jig when cutting, but this time
without the cloth between. When cutting out the openings, begin in the center, and cut
your way out to the edge in thinner strips as you approach it. When the veneer is sized
to the panel, go lightly over with a #400 sanding paper to round the edges lightly.
Make sure the veneer does not stick out over the side of the aluminum,
but also be careful not to expose the aluminum.
Finish up with a two component clear auto paint. Rub down with #600 paper after first and
second coat. I do not advise rubbing down too much. If you get a perfectly flat surface
it will look like plastic, not wood when you're done. Just look at the wood in any Mercedes
and you'll see what I mean.
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