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How to Make a Boat Instrument Panel

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether your boat has an open cockpit or a control station on top of the wheelhouse, called a flying bridge, water and weather damage the instrument panel. When you wish to replace the instrument panel on your boat, the panel can be made from any material. A new weatherproof panel, from aluminium, plastic or even marine plywood, give your boat's critical instruments a secure and safe home.

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  1. Measure the space available for the instrument panel with a measuring tape.

  2. Transfer the measurements for the old instrument panel to the material from which you plan to make the new instrument panel. Cut the instrument panel out of the desired material with a jigsaw.

  3. Measure the diameter of the instrument cases. Most instruments have a lip around the top of the instrument, to support the instrument in the instrument panel. This lip is often covered by a trim ring.

  4. Draw circles the size of the instruments onto the instrument panel, using a draftsman's compass.

  5. Cut the holes in the panel at the marked locations for the instruments, using a drill and hole saw.

  6. Paint the instrument panel the colour of your choice, using wrinkle paint.

  7. Press the instruments into the panel. Attach the instrument trim rings, and secure with the screws provided with the instruments, using a screwdriver.

  8. Warning

    This project involves the use of several power tools. Please observe all safety procedures applied to those tools. To use a screwdriver properly, insert the blade of the screwdriver into the slot machined across the top of the head of the screw. Put a slight downward pressure on the screwdriver to prevent the blade from riding up and out of the slot as you turn the screwdriver to the left, or counterclockwise, to loosen the screw; or turn the screwdriver to the right, or clockwise, to tighten the screw. Remember, "righty-tighty; lefty-loosey."

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Instrument panel material
  • Jigsaw
  • Draftsman's compass
  • Drill
  • Hole saw
  • Wrinkle paint
  • Screwdriver

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.

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