January 4th, 2007: Interior Faceplates Covered With Moose Leather
I received my moose hide yesterday ... so here goes "round two" with creating a new faceplate for my radio and a new faceplate for my clock, which will also give me a place for my AC/heat vent floor-to-defrost switch, my hazard-lights switch and my backup-lights switch.
I started the radio faceplate project back in August of 2003 when I installed a 1955 Chevy Radio ... and then last month, when I put the 1955 Buick Clock in, I covered both faceplates in vinyl ... but the vinyl looked like ... er, ah, well, it looked like absolute crap to be perfectly honest ... so I'm doing them both over, from scratch.
The first step was to cut fresh pieces of eighth-inch plywood ... one for the radio and one for the clock and switches:
January 5th: I decided the plywood was too thick for the radio faceplate. I needed to shape it so it hugs the shape of the dashboard which is rounded and masonite proved to be more workable for this task. After cutting the masonite to shape, I wet it down and started clamping it around a can until I got the curve I wanted (see lower picture) ... the surface-skin of the masonite cracked some on me but nothing that compromises the structure. Aside from using the High-Temp Adhesive to attach the moose leather, I'll be adding some hand-stitching with waxed thread ... thus, all the drilled holes you see -- they aren't perfect but that just adds to the "hand made" look, if you ask me:
Next, I cut out the clock faceplate and drilled holes for the three switches. I used a 3.5-inch hole saw to set the center point for the clock position, and drilled about 1/16th of an inch into the plywood to cause the leather to recess a bit when I stitched it down ... then I cut the hole all the way through the plywood, using a 3-inch hole saw. I'll be hand-stitching around the clock, as well as the sides and bottom of the faceplate -- the top won't be visible and also, as you can see by the clamps, there's a mounting board at the top which would prevent me from doing any hand-stitching:
January 6th: Here's a shot of the back-side of the clock faceplate, showing the mounting strip at the top. The notch on the left is to allow space for the clock light that plugs into the top of the clock. I glued two small pieces of 3/8-inch plywood that will hold the clock in the right position and give me some wood to screw into for mounting the clock:
Next, I put some masking tape in places where I don't want any of the High-Temp Adhesive to be. After spraying the adhesive on both sides and gluing the moose leather on, I'll remove the masking tape and there won't be any glue where there shouldn't be:
January 7th: It's time to glue the fronts in place and get ready for stitching before gluing the backs and finally installing the faceplates back in the truck. Before I could glue the mooseleather onto the radio faceplate, I needed to shave the leather down and make it thinner around the edges and around the center cut-out so that I could wrap the leather and avoid having so much thickness:
When I was looking for the best areas to cut out of the moose hide, I noticed a really nice "fingerprint" in the grain of the leather that was not only nice to look at but just happened to be the same width as the radio faceplate ... I had to waste some leather in order to cut this piece so that the position of the mark would sit nicely along the top of the radio faceplate, but it sure is worth it! I mean, this is what using real skins is all about.
The clock faceplate didn't need to be shaved since it doesn't sit pressed against anything, so that saved me some time. I glued the backs of the hides and the fronts of the faceplates, waited three minutes, and glued them down. Notice the "notching" in each corner ... it makes for a neat finish when wrapping the corners.
Here's a shot of the front sides ... ready for the final glue on the backs and then the stitching. I can't wait to get these back in the truck!
January 20th: After punching holes in the leather, to match the holes that I drilled in the masonite and plywood, I decided the whole stitching idea wasn't working. It was looking too "busy" ... too detailed ... I just felt like it was detracting too much from the beauty of the moose hide. So I had to scrap those two pieces of leather (ouch) and cut new ones. Live and learn, as they say.
The curved masonite worked out nicely -- the radio faceplate is hugging the shape of the dash perfectly!
Here's a shot of the finished radio faceplate installed. If you look carefully at the grain of the leather, above the right-hand radio knob, you can see a scar this Scandanavian moose received at some point in his career ... I thought this would be a good spot to showcase this highlight of the animal's life; I'll always wonder how it happened.
Fortunately, this leather hides all those drilled holes in the masonite and the plywood -- vinyl would never do that; I would have had to start all over again!
Here's everything finished and mounted in the truck: