My MkII Spitfire had a cracked aftermarket wooden dash when I bought it and I figured that it would be part of the frame up restoration. I decided to take on this project even though I have very little woodworking experience. Nothin’ to it. You can do this and make a nice job of it. Fear not you of little faith. Dive in with all four feet and you shall be rewarded with a great looking dash for your Spit.

The instructions apply to MkI, MkII, and early MkIII Spitfires with the dash in the center. Obviously these directions will apply to any automobile though the supply of veneer will have to be larger in one dimension if your dash is larger. I used cherry veneer and just love the color. Those who have a multiple part dash will want to make sure that the grain of the veneer aligns and is in the same direction.

Tools needed:

Exacto knife or similar.
Alphatic resin or Elmers Carpenters Wood Glue.
Wax paper.

Get your old dash cleaned up and sanded. Glue any cracks in it with thick CA from the local hobby shop. The surface you will glue the new piece of veneer to will need to be sanded smooth and clean. I used a sanding "T" purchased from a hobby shop. Get some veneer from your local lumber supply. I paid $15 for 5 pieces that will each do at least one small dash like mine. The veneer is actually large enough to do two dashes but I chose a piece out of the middle that didn’t have any knots or defects. Sand the gluing surface of the veneer smooth. We want a good mating surface for the glue.

Lay the piece of veneer down on your workbench.

Use something soft to protect the face of the veneer. You’ll need something that won’t cut to shreds when you are trimming the veneer with your Exacto knife. I used a piece of Homosote on my workbench. This stuff is available at most lumber yards. Clamp the work to the bench. You’ll want to have the work not move while you’re cutting.

Cut carefully and gently. You don’t need to make your cuts go all the way through on the first pass. You will need to go back after you’re all done cutting and smooth things up at the holes. You will need to change blades in your Exacto knife at least twice. I used 3 blades for my dash. The sharper the blade, the easier the work.

Move your clamp to the other end of the dash and finish the holes and the outside of the dash.

Inspect your work. How’s it look so far? Pretty impressive, right? Nice job! Clean up the edges of the holes with a piece of fine sandpaper. Very fine sandpaper. You need to understand that veneer cracks very easily so be careful. I used a piece of dowling with sandpaper wrapped around it. Works dandy.

Once you’ve gotten the veneer the way you want it then it’s time for gluing. Get out about 3 paper towels, rip them into quarters. You’ll need them soon for cleanup while you’re working. Lay a piece of wax paper on your work surface and put the piece of veneer on the wax paper. Make sure that the side that goes to the dash is up as you’re going to paint the glue on. I used an acid brush from the hardware to apply the Elmers Carpenters Glue in a thin coat. Do the same to the old dash. Join the two pieces together and check the alignment several times. Remember that the instruments poke out through the dash that you’re making. You need good alignment. Another piece of wax paper is in order over the work now and then a piece of plywood that will cover the dash completely. You’ll want to stack several books on the dash to help hold everything flat and the plywood (or similar) will help displace the load evenly.

After the glue has dried (overnight) you can do some finishing on your new dash. I used semi-glossy polyurethane and it looks quite nice. Make sure you work in a dust free area. The downstairs bathroom with the exhaust fan turned on worked out well. Just make sure that you cover everything that doesn’t need to be glossy. Judy frowns on me making the walls shiny in such a manner.

Enjoy your new dash.