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Making a TR6 wooden dash(custom to my application)

It’s cold outside, so a hot cup of coffee, a good day to blog!;)  I have to admit, never gave it much thought about wooden dashes in old cars, I may have thought how cool they are, but never knew I’d get around to making one!;)



My dash will be unique to the circumstances due to installation of a Miata drive train. However, the making of the dash would be similar to making any wooden dash, however a TR6 is quite unique;)




First we have to go to google what an original TR6 dash looks like before going further into unknown territory. The TR6 wooden dash/ veneers are so unique and incredibly complicated to some degree. They weigh next to nothing when held and feel fragile. Work of art!





Crazy as it may sound, at one time I did plan to install the Miata instrument panel in for simplicity reasons; plug and play! There would have been no thought involved in hooking up the wiring harness, plug it in and go! That was my thinking;) The Miata cluster is plain, but kind of nice with the chrome bezel, but is dwarfed by the original TR6 tach.



In order for the miata gauges to fit, the metal dash of the TR had to be ~ well, mutilated to accommodate the cluster. Believe me, it tortured me a bit to do this, but I did find another metal dash before proceeding. Found one on eBay for a decent price.



The Miata gauge pod is inseparable from its other components, so it would have to be installed as a whole unit.


Though it may not look as good as I had hoped, and I did use it, it sure would have saved money over buying new gauges!



Though it never looked right, I still proceeded, knowing I can change things as I go along as nothing is permanent! Experimentation is fun! Luckily in a way, this was a solid piece of wood which cracked.

Again, the problem with the Miata gauges: it didn’t look very good, and when ‘installed’ it placed the steering column too low putting the steering wheel in ones lap! It would have never worked! The steering wheel I thought with the cutout bottom portion, I thought may help offer a little clearance, but still no dice.



When a person is in the hobby of car restomodding, you have to be able to do anything! weld, woodwork, fabrication, upholster/sew, etc..  I just happen to have a decent table saw and band saw from building cabinets for Mom~ I do love woodwork and if I should ever say farewell to cars, I’d become a woodworker~ for one it’s less expensive!

The thickness of the TR dash is closer to 7/16″ thick, the Oak sheet is 1/2″. IT would have been nice to have a planer!:(




I forget the exact angle of the edge of the TR’s wooden/veneer edging, but I set my band saw at the correct angle and painstakingly cut out the pattern. I was using the old wooden dash to get the correct angle.

I made 3 different panels.


The panel to the right, the gauges were going to be too low resulting in making another dash which is laying to the left; looking better with the choice of better Oak laminate. I wish I had made one more dash just in case, but alas, I did not:(



What gauges dne’??? OH, yeah, I wound up choosing Speedhut gauges. Keeping in mind, having AC vents in the middle of my wooden dash, the gauges of oil pressure, coolant temp, fuel, volt had to be ‘relocated’ in a single Speedhut gauge. The speedometer works off of GPS, look ma, no wires!



The Speedhut gauges I chose are the 4″, they do make 4 1/4 and 4 1/2, but I felt safe with this size. Making the holes however wasn’t exactly 4″ and the size I needed wasn’t available in a hole saw and wound up using a router. Though not perfect; worked ok.


I wanted the bezel to be recessed and not just sit on top of the wooden dash, so this neat little tool from my local ACE hardware did the trick!


I’ll say care must be taken in using this ‘bit’, mounted in my drill press with the dash held down by clamps, I was able to achieve the step in the wood necessary for the recessing and a perfect hole;)

Leaving just enough wood for the gauges to set in.


This wound up being the orientation for the Speedhut gauges. I had to cut away some of the sheet metal for this to work.



Test fit of the gauges~ I’m happy!;)  Notice the original indicator lights~ can’t find these any more. They are obviously relocated more outwards as seen here.

These Forstner bits made the holes possible! Inexpensive from HF, I use these amazingly often!!






My test piece for drilling holes wound up being very useful~ no mistakes!!! 😉 There were many more tests made before the actual drilling.


To install these original TR6 indicators, requires a 3 step process:


Look at the fine cut produced by the Forstner bit! However must be done in a drill press for optimum results.




These after market vents from Summit Racing allowed for a nice affect complimenting the bezels of the Speedhut gauges;)  They themselves were a trick to install as well.


Sadly, there only able to be used with thin metal, not 1/2″ thick wood, so they wound up being recessed, but turned out looking great! 🙂




For the 2 center vents, a piece of 20 gauge was made, then drilled out with a hole saw. Later the Emergency button would be installed.






Not long afterwards, the glove box was cut, pretty straight forward on that, so I won’t go into it. The rectangular hole is for the dimmer lights in the cabin and emergency switch between the two center vents.



Finally finished with holes n such, now onto staining and clearing. I found Oak doesn’t stain that well and Oak laminate may have not even been the best choice. I know how to do a lot of things, but types of wood is not my forte.:(


One of my cool followers (Bruce;)) asked what  stain I used and how many coats~ despite the research that I did, Tung oil, etc, I just decided to keep it easy and went to ACE, cause it’s the place!;) and bought these two products. I would have liked to come closer to the steering wheel stain color, but overall I’m pleased with the outcome.  I had applied the stain with a cloth, the allowed a day or so, lightly sanded smooth with fine sandpaper, then clear, sanded, clear, etc, to achieve about 10-11 coats over about 15 days I’d say.






This last picture is from several weeks ago~ all the hard work pays off with diligence~ I enjoyed the challenge, but would rather not have to repeat this process again. But if I had to, I know the sequence and could knock another dash our pretty quick! 😉

A great deal of work/play is still going on, I”m guessimating about another 1.5 years. To be honest which needs not be said nor written, I’m in no hurry to finish~ I love the journey;)

dne’ 😉  I Love old cars and the era they were in;)



7 Responses so far.

  1. Bruce Hartmann says:

    Very nice looking! So what wood finish did you use (e.g. varnish, urethane, tung oil)?

    • admin says:

      Thank you Bruce! I need to put that information in my blog, just ran out to see what I did use! lol Both were Minwax products from my local ACE hardware. I used one ‘coat’ of Golden Oak 210B with a clean cloth, allowed a day to cure I guess, then Helmsman Spar Urethane clear semi-gloss. I’d spray a coat, wait a day, then sand, then another coat, sand, etc, did this for 15 days, achieved approximately 10-11 coats. I just never could get it to be totally covered with clear, but I’m pleased with the outcome! 😉
      Thank you Bruce for pointing that out, I’ll put that in my blog ASAP!;(
      dne’ 😉

      • Arne says:

        As the saying goes: It’s the journey, not the destination (or something like that).

        Awesome Journey, Dne’ !

        • admin says:

          You got it right Arne, the journey and friends along the way is awesome! Thank you Arne and fellow journeyers!!! I’m sure there will be other journeys along the way!
          dne’ 😉

      • Bruce Hartmann says:

        Wow, lots of work finishing the wood and it came out great, Did you use any type of sealer on the unseen back or edges?

        • admin says:

          Good evening Bruce! I painted the back side with a spray enamel, two coats. I hope this will prevent warping over time. As the edges, they were stained and clear coated just like the finished front.
          Thank you!!
          dne’ 😉

          • Bruce Hartmann says:

            Very professional. Actually better than professional. Your many talents seems endless. I wish I had your energy and patience (as well as your skills).