How to Make a Fiberglass Dashby Steve Smith
Installing your own fiberglass car dash is an excellent way to completely customize your car. With your own dash, you can install anything you want, including tweeters, a six-disc CD player, in-dash GPS, DVD players and gaming systems. It is the pinnacle of car customization. Fiberglass allows you to create a strong, light and completely custom dash in any shape or theme you like.
Measure the interior of your car from side to side and then make measurements of the depth and height of the dash. You will want to remove the dash currently in the car first, and use it as a rough model, to ensure a proper fit.
Cut Styrofoam to the length and width of the dash for the top. Then cut another sheet for the face. You can cut out the section of the dash that will hold the accessories you want to install later.
Shape your Styrofoam to mimic the shape of your dash. You can layer thin sheets of Styrofoam and grind them with a light sander, then cut out the sections for the dashboard, DVD player and other accessories. Be sure to curve the top and face exactly how you want them, and double check your measurements for the accessories. Remember, the fiberglass will add about an 1/8 inch on either side of the interior boxes.
Dry fit the final product to your car carefully. Then make any necessary adjustments.
Layer mod release compound on the form, then lay the fiberglass sheets on top of the release compound.
Smooth out all your sheeting and make sure it is perfect. Some people like to pin the fabric to the form to keep it steady; this helps when you apply your resin. If you have already cut your boxes for accessories, wrap the fiberglass into these boxes.
Mix your resin and apply it to the strips with a resin brush. Mix up plenty of resin and be generous in your application. Then wait until the fiberglass hardens.
Remove the mold by starting at one edge and popping the mold right off the Styrofoam. You now have a complete shell of your dash.
Create similar molds for the interior boxes that will hold the accessories. You can cut extra boxes into the mold, and build forms for the boxes separately and then attach them to the dash. Just apply the fiberglass strips over the dash face and use the resin to glue and harden then to the frame.
Sand the frame using increasing grits of sand paper, starting with something as heavy as 80 grit, and working up to as fine a grit as you like.
Spray paint your dash with an interior paint, or rubberized coating. Or customize further with shag carpet, velvet or suede.
Complete the assembly of interior parts, glove box doors and latches.
- Your form will determine how well your dash turns out, so take plenty of time and care to make it right.
Things You'll Need
- Sanding blocks
- Dash dimensions
- Building an entire dash board or anything this large and complex from fiberglass is not easy. Your form needs to be perfect, and even if it is, you are sure to experience sagging, or twisting of the form. Build it as strong as possible and reinforce it to make the best custom dash. Expect to spend a long time just on your form to make it perfect.
Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.