Well, I thought we had settled on doing a tiger maple veneer on the gauge panels, but it just hasn't worked right. We decided on a gray stain/dye to tie in with the gray leather seat we are using.
So, we prepped the steel panels with epoxy primer and some gray primer over that (the epoxy primer is black and we didn't want it showing through on the edges).
Then, we used spray contact cement to adhere the veneer and trimmed around the edges and sanded smooth:
We stained them with a Varathane 'weathered gray' stain. HO-HUM. The test piece turned out SO much better.
This was our tester, but we tested it on unsanded veneer (our first mistake):
The stain was too opaque to show much the figure of the maple in the sanded veneer :(
We chose an ivory paint for the background on the dash and I really like the color of the gray against it, but I was hoping for the figure of the tiger maple to show and it just didn't. Not to mention, the next day it started lifting around the gauge holes and that was NOT acceptable. So, off the veneer came and we are back to square one. Deciding how to finish the panels has been the hardest of our decisions on this project for some reason! I really want them to be special.....
Anybody have any good suggestions? And, no, vinyl is NOT an option :P Maybe gray leather, but that is near the bottom of my list.