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hardwood floor for dash replacement

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  • hardwood floor for dash replacement

    I wrote up my dash experience on my Guvna Blog Redux. I was 18 on my first 6, and reworked my dash with black walnut veneer. Im cooped up like everyone else, so I start surfing youtube on how to get that glass finish that I always wanted on our hardwood dash, and found some good tutorials on epoxy. But surfing today, I looked for walnut plywood, not veneer, and got some crazy priced 4x8 1/4 inch sheets out there, but in this search, and as google would do with anything else, it shows me wood flooring.

    So, then it hit me........can we find a single 6" plank, long enough and smooth enough to work? Oddly, yes. I haven't finished searching yet, but my guess is, besides the scrapped, not smooth stuff, I should find - any grain I want, with a smooth, durable finish. And, I should be able to polishing this down if not mirror. then, depending on my donor dash with the pattern, plane that down, so that if I glued them together, I would have the original thickness. Glue them, use the backside to cut out, sand, polish, and be done.

    And I have this feeling, some flooring store will give me a 6 foot plank, 6 inches wide to take home to see if that works with the flooring project I mislead him with. Of course I would tip him, or something to ease my mind.

    has this been discussed already?

  • #2
    I think it's a good avenue to pursue, Guv. Some flooring these days is "engineered". That is, it isnt just simple boards, it's a composite sandwich. Still might work great for your idea.

    There are also the recesses for the instrument bezels to deal with, though I think you could do without them.

    Keep us posted.

    For just a little more, you can do it yourself!


    • #3
      thanks Ed - I'll check in with some stores on Monday - not sure if these businesses are essential, so they may be closed. A few might be open. And I agree with you on the engineering - couple of things stick out - like durability - and no one is walking on our dashes. the climate is what I worry about, but as I type this, I can tell the guy - I want a wood that is good on a back porch, or some outdoor covered patio.

      cheers, and happy easter to you and those around us.


      • #4
        you should be able to find a nice walnut board at a hardwood lumber supply house near you.You can go and pick out the piece you want but might be a little pricey.I got lucky to inherit several boards that have been air drying for over 40 years that I am going to use to make a dash panel. A board of the correct size will be at least $30.Steve


        • #5
          Sounds like a neat project with little cost other than time. As I recall, many of the "engineered" flooring materials have a hardwood surface that is in the neighborhood of 50-60 thou thick, That should certainly be sufficient, and some of the higher quality brands even "guarantee" you can sand 2 or 3 times if needed during life of floor. Only concerns that come to mind are potential for delamination at edges, particularly for instrument holes and glove box door, and sandability/appearance of edges. Not sure what the edges will look like since you will see the cross section of the engineered material. If you can get it smooth enough, might be able to paint it black or dark brown if the natural state doesn't look right. Just some thoughts.


          • #6
            Getting a decent finish is as simple as a coat of polyurethane or marine spar varnish. No need to muck about with plastic floor planks that will likely chip when you go to do the intricate cutouts you need. BTW don’t use epoxy, it will turn yellow from exposure to the sun. I did mine with a spray can of automotive 2 part urethane, you can buy a can at any automotive paint store(well, any that might still be open anyway, actually, see Eastwood 2k Aerospray for example). it’s as simple to use as any spray can paint and is hard enough to polish to your heart’s content. Which epoxy and poly are not.
            As for wood selection, the hardwood stores here are open as construction is an essential business. Go down to yours and pick out the exact board you want. Even exotics aren’t going to be more than about $15 a board foot, walnut is about half that, and a 6ft long 6in wide 4/4 board is exactly 3 board ft. You’ll need to plane or resaw that down, 4/4 finished hardwood is 13/16” thick and our dash panels are closer to 1/2”.
            I guess my point is that you can make and finish a really nice dash for less than $75 and have something that you’ll be proud of and not some Frankenstein plastic floor plank.

            Geez, you know what, this post sounds maybe a bit harsh, not intended that way, it’s just that I do cabinet making as a hobby and making one of these dashes for me is child’s play and I’m sure that’s not true for everyone. If you run into any problems post here or pm and we’ll get it sorted out. Whatever you decide have some fun with it and let us know how it comes out.
            ‘70 TR-6


            • #7
              When my father was alive he did cabinet and furniture making as a hobby. He mostly worked in Mahogany, but sourced wood at places that sold exotic woods like holly, cherry, walnut, and every other type. But he always placed the planks outside in a carport, stacked them and separated them with shims so air could get through, and allowed them to age for 2 years before he made furniture. Good stuff is really pricey, and you can select the grain look you want. If you have patience, that's the very best you can use to make a dash (now if only I had inherited that skill set .....).
              Last edited by bartman; 04-16-2020, 11:57 AM. Reason: grammar
              1976 TR-6 BRG - CF57239U
              Carbs by Poolboy
              Rear Camber Kit, Rear Hubs by Goodparts
              Gear Reduction Starter by TSI
              Distributor by British Vacuum


              • #8

                still looking for a piece that already has a deep clear finish. deep enough to sand or polish smooth. a call to my flooring guy, and he drops off this very unique piece for me to fiddle with. I tried to polish it smooth - a little rough, but not from the grain. and i got it smoother, but then i was in the grain, so that finish was very thin. but this piece is very unique, and I am going to practice with it anyway. and what is nice is, the thickness of this surface layer - that has to be 1/8 or so.

                I mixed up some 5 minute epoxy to test on this surface, and it is the depth I am looking for. And, I went to a proper wood working shop and bought Envirotex Lite Pour On High Gloss Finish - 20 dollars for 2 cartons of what I think I saw on youtube. with very specific instructions. What I am dealing with right now is - how much to pour on a given surface. I'll build sides to the pool, so to speak, with painters tape, then reinforce that, and then pour on an amount that will give me 1/16 layer of finish - kinda like a bar top, but not quite that thick.

                And I may take my current dash, sand that smooth, back to its grain, and reverse the process - put pool walls up inside the gauge holes, and on the outside. I like that dash, but its a big bland, frankly.

                typical. i need to finish this carb journey, and a squirrel comes along, and im ankle deep in dash restoration.

                cheers Click image for larger version

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                • #9
                  Guv, just be aware that EnviroTex is an epoxy resin and it will turn yellow when exposed to sunlight. If you’re ok with that then carry on.
                  ‘70 TR-6


                  • #10
                    Thanks Neddie - My light recon on the yellowing - I'm not sure I am concerned about it, but I should be. On this grain, its dark, and I don't know how much that would hurt the dash. I agree that epoxy will yellow, from what you said, and just general knowledge. I thought it said on the box it had components to resist, but that may have been me assuming or hoping.

                    I've spend the last few days on volume. So, if I go this route, I have to determine how much to mix up - to the point above, I found 2 websites to help me get volume, and convert to ounces.


                    gives you the cubic inches.


                    converts cubic inches to ounces.

                    I thought 1/16 would be a good thickness, but even that is thick. I think its more 1/32...or between the 2.

                    My dilemma now is - this flooring sample is thicker than the dash. The flooring sample is 1/2 inch. The dash is 3/8 or so. At least an 1/8th. I have 2 options. Keep with this, and plane down the sample, or get another flooring piece this size, but 1/2 inch. My plan is to glue on a back piece of sheet that I can cut smaller holes to hold the gauges.

                    I can also use this piece, and have the dash thicker, stick out more. I don't know how noticeable this will be. Begs the question - does anyone have the thickness of the replacement dashes? Mine is a replacement, and its 3/8 or so.



                    • #11
                      Just keep the dash out of the sun!

                      I have a feeling that the only flooring you’ll be able to find that is thinner than 1/2 is the full on plastic crap like Pergo. It has its uses I suppose but I really don’t like that stuff.

                      My original dash was about 7/16” and the replacement I made came out a tad over 1/2”. That worked out fine except for the wiper switches. Those wanted to be mounted to a thinner panel, I ended up routing an 1/8” groove behind the 2 switches so that they would mount properly. The rest of the gauges don’t care about thickness and you can’t tell there’s an extra 1/16 sticking out. Mine’s a ‘70 so it has the two rocker switches for wipers and washer, later models used different switches that may be mounted differently.
                      ‘70 TR-6


                      • #12
                        Thank you very much - all great insight. My replacement light switch never fit well with my replacement dash. For later is a dash rocker, but my 72....and maybe your 70 is a column switch on the right side? Regardless, I know what you mean - yes, the gauges don't care, but those rockers on the left side have fitment issues.

                        I have a full day tomorrow, but I'll try to update by wednesday.



                        • #13
                          hello 6pack.

                          I'm back with some updates on this dusty project. I've been thinking of this project while my car is down, still have that unique piece of hardwood, and have solved some of the finish issues from a few years ago. I found a better epoxy resin from a youtube channel. I have a better understanding of "deep pour", which allows you to pour on deep globs of resin material, let it self level, and then sand in many grits to a glass finish.

                          Right now, I am prepping for pulling the dash for a template, and prepping this pieces of flooring. The flooring sample I have is 7 inches wide, which is what our dash max is - as best I can tell. I had said 6 inches, but its 7 in the 2 fat areas of the dash over the speedo tach and glovebox. The plan is to get the deep pour on the 45"x7" piece that I will cut, sand it to the finish I want, then plane the piece to a more shallow depth on the back. I'll add a piece of plywood after to hold the gauges in, and cut the smaller circles out. But after I plane the back, put the template on, mark off the gauge and glovebox holes, hardware mount holes, switches, steering horseshoe, etc, then cut and polish the holes, all the way thru. then add the back plywood, mark the smaller holes, cut them. After all that, router the edges to that angled back, and seal it.

                          There are more particular steps that I will get into shortly.

                          Sorry for the ghost - like many of my projects like my carb journey, most got shelved during covid.



                          • #14
                            update on the dash project

                            I've slept on this engineering for a week or so now. The plan is to put a flood coat on this piece of wood, then cut out the shape of the dash after I polish it. Flooding the entire piece will help keep it uniform. I'll review flooding later, but its kinda what you see at a sports bar bar top with the bottle caps well below the clear surface.

                            This long piece of wood is warped. Not bad, but a nice gentle curve to it. When you pour this epoxy out, it won't flood evenly unless the surface is flat. There are better ways to do this, but my solution was a 2x10x10 piece of lumber, as straight as I could find, and cut it in half. Then, use 1 piece as the flat surface to mount a piece of this flooring to it. Our dash is 43 inches wide, or close to that. So, I cut 47 inches, and chose the best 47 out of the whole piece - I saw a few flaws at each end. After that, I traced the board on the mounting jig board, and drilled hold down holes to screw wood screws in the back.

                            The trick here is to not screw the mount screws too deep in the back. This board is about 1/2 inch thick. I had to countersink the backside of the jig board, but took my time so that I had just enough coming thru the top into the back of the dash board. I think I can only upload 5 pics per post, so this is part 1.
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Part 2 of the dash board jig project

                              here are the remaining pics.

                              I'm not much of a wood worker, or I should say, I have seen better at this. I have clamps somewhere, and those would have helped get all this lined up. The outline on the board was there to help guide to the middle of the jig board - not important that its perfect here - all that needs to happen here is to give myself room on each side to board up the sides - i'll use 1x2 or something to make a pool so that when I pour the epoxy, it will not flow over the sides. This jig is designed to flatten out the dash board. You'll see on the one pic that the long flat edge on the level has a gap. I'll back out the screws on the jig board, and add shims there. I'll use the level as a straight edge. Once I think that is good, i'll start with the next phase. You'll notice on the edge of one side of the dash board that the tongue is still there - I need to shave that off, and I need to fill in the grove on the backside. I looked at home depot for that size of hardwood runner, but I'll have to go to a hobby store for that - they only go down to 1/4 inch, and that is like 3/16.

                              When this is done, 2 steps to this epoxy process. a Seal coat, which is very thin, covers the whole board, smoothed out with a squeegie or foam brush, followed by a heat gun to remove the bubbles. After that is dry, sanding with some 200 and 320 grits, to rough up the surface. This will be done with no pool edge - I'll let this flow over the sides. I'll sand that off when dry as well, unmounting the dash board, then reconnecting it to build the pool walls.

                              My dash is 76. I have lettering on mine. The word in white letters is LIGHTS on the left side by the lights switch on the dash. I am working on that lettering, and my plan is to put that on after the seal coat, and under the flood. This will be tricky as I haven't cut out the dash at this point. I will have a template, and will use that to place the lettering, and use that same jig to rough cut the dash shape after I finish the flood coat.

                              More to come. Ordering the materials this week.

                              Attached Files


                              hardwood floor for dash replacement




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