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Chapter 17: Upholstery - Consoles, Carpets and Trims​


There will be two consoles in the car. One console is centered over the transmission tunnel, and the other is an overhead console.

Center console[edit]

The center console begins with a simple box cut from particle board and screwed together (Photo 17-1). A front panel is marked and cut out to mount the light switch, wiper switch, wiper delay, cruise control module, electric window controls and three toggle switches (Photo 17-2).The top for the box is then cut to shape, and a hole is cut out for a storage tray. Also, a notch is cut at the rear for a wiring chase (Photo 17-3).

Box Cardboard Wood Plywood Carton 17-1 A particle board "box" is cut to fit around the transmission tunnel. Photo attribution
Wall plate Metal 17-2 The front panel for the box is cut out to house various switches and controls. Photo attribution
Box Carton Electronics Furniture Table 17-3 The top of the box is cut for a storage tray in the center and a wiring chase at the rear. Photo attribution
Box Wood Plywood Rectangle Furniture 17-4 The frame for the storage tray. Photo attribution
A framework is cut and assembled for the sides of the storage tray, and then glued to the underside of the tray opening (Photo 17-4). The top is screwed to the box so that it can be removed for access to the wiring behind the front control panel. The box and top are covered with 1/8" closed-cell foam (Photo 17-5) and fabric is sewn and glued to both the box and the top (Photo 17-6). The transmission tunnel and driveshaft tunnel are covered with 1/8" foam and then fabric. The console is screwed to the top of the transmission tunnel (Photo 17-7)
Technology Electronics Electronic device Table 17-5 Foam is glued to the console box and the top. Photo attribution
Box 17-6 Fabric is sewn where required and glued to the foam. Photo attribution 17-7 The console is screwed to the transmission tunnel. Photo attribution
Overhead console[edit]

The overhead console consists of a front "face panel", and a bottom panel that covers the underside of the console framework.

Face panel[edit]

The face panel is cut from 1x4 pine with a hole cut to house the CD player (Photo 17-8). The back side of the panel is trimmed on a table saw so that there is a lip at the bottom edge (Photo 17-9). This lip will support and hide the front edge of the console's bottom panel. Closed-cell foam is glued to the front of the panel (Photo 17-10).

Wood 17-8 The face of the overhead console is cut from 1" pine stock. Photo attribution
Wood 17-9 The back is cut with a table saw to form a lip that will support the bottom panel. Photo attribution
Wood Metal Plywood 17-10 Foam is glued to the face of the panel. Photo attribution

Fabric is glued to the foam, and then wrapped around the edges of the panel and glued to the back side. (Photo 17-11 and 17-12). The face can then be screwed to the console framework as shown in Photo 17-13.

Wood 17-11 Fabric is glued to the foam face. Photo attribution
Wood Wood stain Hardwood Table Plywood 17-12 The fabric is wrapped over edges of the panel and glued to the back side. Photo attribution
Vehicle Ceiling Car Automotive exterior 17-13 The console face screwed in place. Photo attribution

Bottom panel[edit]
Games Cornhole Recreation Wood Lawn game 17-14 The bottom panel is cut from Masonite. Photo attribution
The bottom panel for the overhead console is cut from 1/4" Masonite. Holes are cut on either end to house the stereo speakers (Photo 17-14). The panel cover is made by first sewing pleats at the center of the panel using fabric and sew foam. The cover is then glued to the face of the Masonite, and wrapped around the edges and again glued on the back side (17-15).
Wood 17-15 The fabric cover, with pleats sewn into the center, is glued to the panel. Photo attribution
Wood Floor Hardwood Rectangle Table 17-16 Fabric around the speaker holes is cut and wrapped over the edge to be glued on the back. Photo attribution
The speaker holes are cut in the fabric, and the fabric is notched (cut into pie shapes), wrapped around the edges of the holes, and glued on the back side (Photo 17-16). The bottom panel is installed as shown in Photo 17-17.
Motor vehicle Vehicle Ceiling Car Automotive exterior 17-17 The bottom panel installed. Photo attribution


The carpeting process begins by first cutting and gluing down foil-faced insulation (Photo 17-18). Then, 1/2" thick carpet padding is added as a sound deadener (Photo 17-19). Using paper patterns like this one for the passenger side (Photo 17-20), automotive-grade carpeting is marked and cut to shape.

Vehicle Tanning bed 17-18 Foil-faced insulation is glued to the floor. Photo attribution
Red Vehicle Car Vehicle door 17-19 1/2" carpet pad is glued over the insulation. Photo attribution
Table Sport venue Floor Wood Wing 17-20 Paper patterns are made to cut the carpet. Photo attribution

Photo 17-21 shows the raw-cut carpeting being test-fit on the driver and passenger side.

To keep the carpeting from fraying, and to create a more finished look, binding is sewn around the edges of each carpet section. The binding is cut from our upholstery fabric in strips 2 1/4" wide (Photo 17-22).

The binding strips are then placed face down on the "fuzzy" up-side of the carpet. The edge of the carpet is lined up with the edge of the fabric and then sewn around the entire perimeter 1/2" in from the edge of the carpet (Photo 17-23). If you are a newcomer to sewing, you may find it helpful to temporarily pin or staple the binding to the carpet to hold things together while sewing.

Vehicle Car Automotive exterior Wheel 17-21 The carpet pieces are test-fitted. Photo attribution
Wood Plywood Floor Hardwood Wood stain 17-22 Binding strips must be added to the edge of the carpet to keep it from fraying. Photo attribution
Rectangle Beige Wood 17-23 The carpet and fabic are laid face-to-face and sewn 1/2" in from the outer edge. Photo attribution

The binding strip is then pulled over the edge of the carpeting (Photo 17-24). Some coaxing may be required to work out wrinkles and kinks. When the binding has been pulled over the edge and smoothed out all the way around the piece of carpet, it is glued to the back side of the carpet and then sewn "in the ditch" all the way around the binding. The "ditch" is indicated by the arrow in Photo 17-25. Sewing in this seam will hide the stitching from view.

The completed driver's side carpet is shown in Photo 17-26.

Beige Textile Linens Wood Leather 17-24 The binding is pulled over the outer edge of the carpet. Photo attribution
Floor Beige 17-25 The binding is glued on the back side and then sewn "in the ditch" (arrow) around the perimeter of the carpet. Photo attribution
Rectangle Brass Metal Paper 17-26 The driver's side carpet. Photo attribution

Tray Wood Cookware and bakeware 17-27 Rubber mats are used to create carpeted mats. Photo attribution
Removable mats can be made by using inexpensive rubber mats that have knobs or ribbing on the back side to prevent them from slipping around on the floor (Photo 17-27). The knobs near the edge of the mat must be ground off, so that the binding will have a flat surface for good gluing. (Photo 17-28).
Wood Wood stain Table Furniture 17-28 The knobs are ground off around the outside edge in order to glue the binding. Photo attribution

The carpet is cut to match the rubber mat, and the two are glued together using contact adhesive (Photo 17-29). Binding is sewn on, as we did for the larger carpet sections (Photo 17-30). The binding is then pulled over the edges of the mat and glued to the back side (Photo 17-31).

Floor Mat Beige Rectangle 17-29 The carpet is cut and glued to the rubber mat. Photo attribution
Beige Furniture Linens Rectangle Table 17-30 Binding is sewn around the edge. Photo attribution
Tray 17-31 The binding is pulled over the edge of the rubber mat and glued on the back side. Photo attribution
Rectangle Floor Mat Metal 17-32 The mat with binding. Photo attribution
The finished mats are shown in Photos 17-32 and 17-33. Note that carpet does have a "direction", and if your carpet and mat pieces are not cut from the carpet roll in the same orientation, the direction of the nap will appear as a slightly different color. A good way to remember this is to always think of the leading edge of your carpet roll as pointing to the front of the car. Then, lay out all patterns for your carpet and your mats accordingly.
Vehicle 17-33 The mat in the car. Photo attribution

Foot box[edit]
Wood Plywood Floor Roof Laminate flooring 17-34 Pre-manufactured "corner trim" is cut and glued for the foot box. Photo attribution
The area around the foot box has a raw carpeting edge that will be covered with a wood trim piece. The trim is made from 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" corner trim, which can be found at most lumber yards and home centers. The corners are cut at 45-degree angles, and the trim pieces are clamped and glued together (Photo 17-34). To help reinforce the corners, chipboard is cut to match the corner angles (Photo 17-35) and glued into place (Photo 17-36). The finished trims (not yet polyurethaned) are shown in Photo 17-37.
Wood Plywood Hardwood 17-35 Chipboard is cut to fit the corner. Photo attribution
Auger Tool Antique tool 17-36 The chipboard is glued in place to reinforce the corner joint. Photo attribution
Floor Machine Flooring 17-37 The completed foot box trim. Photo attribution


The windshield has oak trim pieces across the top, down each side, and under each end of the overhead console. The cut and shaped trim pieces are shown in Photo 17-38. Photo 17-39 shows the trims installed, and Photo 17-40 shows an additional oak trim piece that covers the raw edge of the kick panel at the door jamb.

Wood Plywood Hardwood Floor 17-38 Windshield trim pieces are cut from oak stock. Photo attribution
Room Wood Ceiling 17-39 The trim pieces in place. Photo attribution
Automotive exterior Vehicle Car 17-40 A trim piece is also made to cover the edge of the kick panel at the door jamb. Photo attribution

Door windows[edit]

The trims around the door windows are made of oak, which is then covered with upholstery fabric to match the rest of the door panel. The top portion of the window trim is made from three pieces (Photo 17-41) that are joined together using a "biscuit joint" cutter (Photo 17-42). The cutter routs a slot in the two adjoining pieces and a wooden "biscuit" is glued into the slots to give the joint its strength (Photo 17-43).

Product Floor Wood Plywood Flooring 17-41 Oak pieces cut for the top portion of the window trim. Photo attribution
Tool Machine Power tool Saw Planer 17-42 Biscuit cutter used to join the trim pieces. Photo attribution
Wood Hardwood Plywood Molding Lumber 17-43 The biscuit and slots. Photo attribution

The corners of the frame are glued up and clamped together as shown in Photo 17-44.

The bottom rail of the window trim is cut to look like a piece of angle iron. The front face will cover the raw top edge of the door upholstery panel, while the top face will cover the bottom edge of the window opening. The front face is also shaped (arrow) so that it will fit around the door pull (Photo 17-45). Photo 17-46 shows the trim framework glued together.

Wood Hardwood Plywood Wood stain Laminate flooring 17-44 The upper frame corner after gluing. Photo attribution
Wood 17-45 The lower section of the trim is cut to fit around the door pull (arrow). Photo attribution
Product Wood Picture frame Plywood Rectangle 17-46 The window trim glued together. Photo attribution
Wood Hardwood Floor Wood stain Table 17-47 All the joints are filled with wood putty and sanded smooth. Photo attribution
All of the joints are filled with wood filler, and sanded to create smooth transitions (Photo 17-47). Fabric is then cut to size and glued to the trim (Photo 17-48), working the fabric slowly around all of the corners and curves so that it fits tightly, and without any creases or wrinkles (Photo 17-49). A completed window trim is shown installed in Photo 17-50.
Wood Floor Hardwood Wood stain Flooring 17-48 Fabric being cut and readied for gluing. Photo attribution
Font Table 17-49 The window trims with fabric glued on. Photo attribution
Motor vehicle Vehicle Car Classic car Wheel 17-50 A finished window trim is installed. Photo attribution
Rear window (and homemade third brake light)[edit]

The trim for the rear window begins as a simple oak framework cut and glued so that it slips just inside the rear window opening (Photo 17-51). To create nice curved corners, a block of oak is cut with a large hole saw (Photo 17-52) to produce four sections, each with a 90-degree outside corner and an evenly-curved inside corner (Photo 17-53).

Wood Hardwood Furniture Table Plywood 17-51 An oak framework is glued together to fit inside the rear window opening. Photo attribution
Pipe Machine Drilling Core drill Tool 17-52 Corner curves are cut from an oak block. Photo attribution
Wood Plywood 17-53 The corner curve pieces. Photo attribution
Wood Rectangle 17-54 The corners glued, filled and sanded smooth. Photo attribution
The corners are glued to the framework, and wood filler is applied to all the rough edges and sanded smooth (Photo 17-54). A front "face" or "lip" is glued to the framework, and any imperfections are filled with wood putty (Photo 17-55). The lip will surround the window opening and cover the raw edge of the rear upholstery panel where it butts up to the window opening.
Wood Table Tool Workbench Furniture 17-55 A front lip, which will cover the edge of the rear upholstery panel, is attached. Photo attribution
Wood Tool accessory 17-56 Tubing from a discarded TV antenna is used for the brake light housing. Photo attribution
At this point, we take a small diversion to show the fabrication of our homemade third brake light, which will become a part of the rear window trim. The brake light began life as this aluminum tubing section from an old, discarded TV antenna (Photo 17-56). Slots are cut in the tubing with a cutting wheel (Photo 17-57) and later sanded smooth.
Wood Hardwood Floor Flooring 17-57 Slots are cut in the tubing. Photo attribution
Tool Chisel Tool accessory Metalworking hand tool 17-58 The plastic lens material is heated and shaped over a piece of tubing. Photo attribution
The lens for the light is the same "dropped ceiling" plastic material we used for the frenched tail lights shown in Chapter 10. The plastic is heated and bent around a piece of tubing (Photo 17-58). The lens is then test-fit to ensure it will slip into our aluminum housing (Photo 17-59). Note that the lens must be compressed slightly while being inserted into the tubing. Once inside, the material expands to friction-fit in position.
Molding Tool accessory Metal 17-59 The lens is test-fitted in the housing. Photo attribution

Wiring is soldered directly to the base of each bulb, and then the bulbs are wrapped in closed-cell foam and electrician's tape, so that they can be friction-fit in either end of the housing. The housing is then sanded and polished, and the lens is painted with candy apple red paint (Photo 17-60). Oak is cut and drilled to make "end caps" (Photo 17-61), and the end caps are glued together and slipped over the ends of the brake light housing (Photo 17-62). 17-60 The housing is polished and the lens is painted. Photo attribution
Wood Plywood Hardwood Wooden block Rectangle 17-61 Pieces for the end caps. Photo attribution 17-62 The end caps glued and slipped over the ends of the housing. Photo attribution

The caps and frame are drilled so that the wiring can be fished through, and the light is test-fit on the window trim (Photo 17-63). Small screws are used to hold the brake light end caps in place. The end caps and frame are skim coated with a fine wood filler, and sanded smooth with 400 grit paper. This must be done to prevent the wood grain from showing through. The caps and trim are then sprayed with three coats of SEM interior plastic and vinyl paint.

Photo 17-64 shows the trim and brake light from the interior side, and Photo 17-65 shows how the trim and light appear from the outside of the car.

Automotive exterior Table 17-63 The light and end caps being test-fit on the window trim. Photo attribution
Room Vehicle Automotive exterior Car 17-64 The completed trim and brake light from inside the car. Photo attribution
Vehicle Car Vehicle door 17-65 A view of the trim and light from outside the car. Photo attribution
Dust boots[edit]
Linens Metal 17-66 The dust boot is made from four pieces of fabric shown here during the sewing process. Photo attribution
Dust boots are needed for the shifter lever and the emergency brake lever. The shifter boot is made by sewing together four triangular-shaped pieces of upholstery fabric. Photo 17-66 shows the boot inside-out with the four sections stapled together to hold them in place during sewing. Once sewn, the staples are pulled and the boot is turned right-side-out.To hold the boot in place, a trim mount is cut from a common light switch cover (Photo 17-67). The trim is painted with SEM interior plastic and vinyl paint and the bottom edge of the boot is glued to the underside of the trim.
Font Rectangle Metal 17-67 The mounting trim is cut from a light switch cover. Photo attribution
Vehicle Car 17-68 The installed boot and trim. Photo attribution
Photo 17-68 shows the installed boot and trim.The emergency brake boot consists of two pieces of fabric glued to the underside of another light switch cover. Photo 17-69 shows the boot and trim installed.
Car Vehicle Room Leather 17-69 The emergency brake boot and trim. Photo attribution
Kick panels[edit]

The kick panels are made like other interior panels, only smaller. Luan plywood is cut to the shape needed (Photo 17-70). The panel is covered with foam and "plugs" are inserted for each mounting hole (Photo 17-71). The panel is then upholstered and mounted (Photo 17-72).

Floor Wood Flooring Plywood 17-70 A plywood backer is cut for the kick panel. Photo attribution 17-71 Foam is glued to the backer and plugs installed for each mounting hole. Photo attribution
Red Door Room Games 17-72 The panel is upholstered and mounted. Photo attribution

The driver's side kick panel hides the fuse box, so an access hole must be cut in the panel (Photo 17-73). A "door" is made to cover the access hole. This backside view of the door shows how strips of foam are used to create a "friction fit" to hold the door in place (Photo 17-74). The front-side view of the panel and access door are shown in Photo 17-75.

Technology Electronics Electronic device 17-73 A hole is cut in the driver's side panel to access the fuse box. Photo attribution
Rectangle Serving tray Tray Serveware Tableware 17-74 A back-side view of the access door. Photo attribution
Technology Electronic device 17-75 Front-side view of the door and kick panel. Photo attribution

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The firewall upholstery is done by first making paper patterns, and then cutting the backer boards (Photo 17-79). Foam is glued to the front face of the backer board, and fabric is glued over the foam (Photo 17-80), pulled over the edge, and glued to the back side of the backer board. The installed firewall panels are shown in Photo 17-81.

Table Games Design Furniture Wood 17-79 The firewall backer must be made in two sections so that it can be installed and removed. Photo attribution
Font Logo Metal City car 17-80 Foam and fabric are glued to the backer board. Photo attribution
Vehicle Games Car Machine 17-81 The firewall panels installed. Photo attribution

Cup holder[edit]

It's a pretty minute detail, but every hot rod needs an appropriate drink holder. There's not a lot of spare space in the cockpit, but just the right spot was found at the rear of the "foot box". The cup holder is comprised of five separate pieces of 3/4" oak veneer plywood. The top two pieces have a larger-diameter hole drilled through them for larger-diameter drink cups, and the bottom two pieces have a smaller hole with the diameter of a soda can. The pieces are glued and clamped together (Photo 17-82), and when dry, the inner portion of the circle cuts are sanded smooth. This is done before gluing the top and bottom together to get better access for sanding. The top and bottom portions are then glued together (Photo 17-83); the arrow notes the smaller holder within the larger holder. Later, a bottom is glued on to finish off the holder. The exterior surfaces are then sanded smooth, and the holder is protected with two coats of polyurethane and placed in the foot box (Photo 17-84).

Lineman's pliers Tool Diagonal pliers Snips Pliers 17-82 The cup holder has two "tiers" for holding different sized containers. Photo attribution
Tool Metalworking hand tool Machine Machine tool 17-83 After sanding, the two differently-sized holes are glued together. Photo attribution
Floor Automotive exterior Vehicle Trunk Car 17-84 The finished cup holder installed in the foot box. Photo attribution
Pedal pads[edit]
Footwear Glasses Auto part 17-85 The pads are cut out using a bandsaw. Photo attribution
The pads on the donor pedals were badly worn and in rough shape. Rather than replace them with OEM parts, we used something a little different: flip-flops. This pair was found on sale for $0.50, but even at normal retail, they make for bargain pedal pads. The pads are cut from the flip-flops using a bandsaw (Photo 17-85), and glued to the face of the pedal with contact cement (Photo 17-86). Prior to attaching the pad, a hole was drilled through each corner of the pedal faceplate. With the pad glued in place, screws can be inserted from the back side of the faceplate to mechanically retain the pads (Photo 17-87). Matching pads are cut and attached to the brake and accelerator pedals as shown in Photo 17-88.
Floor Handle 17-86 The pad is glued to the faceplate of the pedal. Photo attribution
Floor Flooring Hardwood 17-87 Holes are drilled and the pad screwed to the pedal to ensure that it stays in place. Photo attribution
Room Floor Flooring Luxury vehicle Vehicle 17-88 Matching pads are made for all three pedals. Photo attribution
The completed interior[edit]

Here are a few shots of the completed interior (Photos 17-89 to 17-96).

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