So the first thing you need is something to cover. In this case ages ago I made a wooden back shelf for my Mini, but it was very heavy, and painted. It was nice but as I am doing the interior up I decided to do a new back shelf. It is the same shape as I used the old one to make the mould, but this one is made from carbon fibre so its very light, but as strong as the old wooden one.
As this is not being massed produced there was no point spending ages making a mould capable of lasting years, so a very quick and simple one was made, hence a bit of filler was needed here and there to smooth the surface as the old shelf was not super flat, as the thin wood had bowed from being in the sun.
As most materials used for covering are between 1.5mm and 0.5mm thick, any imperfections in the surface need sorting prior to covering, or there is a risk the surface will looked pitted when done, and that would just look tacky wouldnít it.
Next you need to draw round the object to be covered mainly so you have the placement worked out, and also so you know where to apply the glue to. If you donít bother with marking out the material when you come to apply glue you use far mare than needed, and also have to guess where to lay it when sticking it down.
This is where the preparation work comes in. Mark out the material, and then place the object to be covered in place, then carefully lift both up and turn them over to make sure it looks ok from the other side to. Remember that will be the side showing, so it matters far more.
Donít start something like this unless you have all day free, so you don't end up rushing it. If there is a chance you will have to go out, don't start it if you are not sure you will have enough time.
Rush it and you will ruin it.
Now onto glue. Most people use something like evostick for everything, but this is no good for covering, or I should say I donít think it is any good for covering. Yes they say it can be used, but forget to mention its what I call a stringy glue, by that I mean remove the brush or applicator from the tin, and you have a gluey string attached to the tin and brush and this trails wherever the brush goes.
So for covering I like Thixofix, but they have now stopped making it, but it is being replace by another glue manufacture. Why this, well its a non drip glue which means no stringy bits, and its not an instant contact adhesive, so if a mistake is made providing you haven't pressed it hard together it can be readjusted. Use evostick and itís in the wrong place and its there for life. :(
So along with the glue you will need a spreader which comes with the glue normally, and a brush. I use a cheap 1" brush and cut about one third of the bristles off to give more control over applying the glue.
So with the object to be covered decided, the material was next. The interior of my Mini was always black and grey, as I had a lot of carbon fibre panels I had made in it, but I wanted to get away from dark looking, so went with cream leather. Now leather can be expensive especially if you pay someone to cover it for you. However look on eBay and whole hides can be bought for a reasonable price. I say look on eBay, but look well. I found the identical product from two different sellers, one charging £35 a hide less than the other.
It is from
The next job is to cut a section just a bit bigger than the object to be covered. Always remember to work on an old soft cloth, or as I use an old bed sheet folded up. This makes sure nothing form your work bench gets on or damages the surface while working on it.
Next is the placement on the material. This glue is re-adjustable, but donít rely on that to do it wrong. If you havenít pressed it firmly into place it can be pulled up and repositioned, but if it sticks firmly to any spots its there for good.
I find the easiest way to hold the back shelf over the cloth and lower one end into position, and line up the rest. I then lift both the back shelf and the material vertically upwards and tilt it so the cloth leans away from the shelf. This allows me to work my way down the shelf pressing the material onto the back shelf without the lower section sticking.
When itís pressed on from top to bottom, I then lay it back down with the material facing upwards. This allows for you to check itís alright, and providing you havenít firmly pressed it all down, a bit of re-adjusting if need be.
If happy at this point using a soft sponge roller, (like the mini sponge rollers used for painting) roller the surface pressing it firmly into position. Work from the middle out preferable in one direction. You will notice where you have and havenít been and this allows you to roller it all down well.
Once done, you can roller it at random to further press it down, and roller the edges so it gives a clear outline of the back shelf, as it is in this case.
As you can see I left more than I needed on the edges, so it gives me something to hold onto when sticking it together, removing the chance that I will touch with possible messy finger part of the material that will show.
The next job is to cut the edges to fit. You need to leave enough to go down the sides and wrap underneath in on itself for a neat finish. Never just cut it to go down the sides or it may peel up over time. By wrapping under and gluing it provides a far neater and permanent finish.
Next cut out the holes using a sharp knife I prefer using a
With the edges trimmed and the holes cut out, its time to glue them down. This is where the brush is used as the spreader is just not suitable for this type of work.
Turn the whole thing over and apply the glue to the material and back shelf. Wait till touch dry, then starting from the middle of one side stick the edge down. Now donít work from that middle point to the outer edge or it might crease, as its going round a curve. Stick the middle down, then move to the outer most point, and stick that down. Then stick down the point halfway between them, and then do the remaining bits. If you start from the middle or end and work to the furthermost point, you might find it creases. By doing it in sections at different points allows for the manipulation of the material to avoid getting creases.
So this is the finished shelf with speaker grills and solar charger fitted in place. As you can see I have sprayed the bits a light cream to semi match the shelf. I didnít want an exact match so opted for a slightly lighter colour. The speaker grills are aftermarket ones, which originally had surface mounted LEDís in them, but they looked really odd shining upwards. Therefore I removed them and filled the surface and mounted triple colour changing LEDís on the underside so when on, they reflect off the speaker cone and slowly change from red to green to blue.
Not an essential item, but as they canít be bought, something different to everyone else.
Next whey you are sure you are happy with placement, apply the glue. When applying the glue as you can see I have marked out the exact shape of the back shelf, so I only apply glue to the areas that need it. Use the spreader and apply a layer of glue to the hard object first, in this case the back shelf, then when done with that apply a layer to the material.
The glue needs to be left for 10 to 15 minutes to go touch dry, and I always find the harder surface take longer to dry than the material, so always do that first.
The spreader is designed to apply just the right amount of glue in the form of little tiny lines on a large surface. If you donít get a spreader with the glue, they can be bought from hardware stores or shops.
If you chose to save the pound or so they cost and make your own you will apply far more glue than is needed and make a right bodge of it. To much glue in lumps will dry in lumps and ruin the overall surface finished.
I often get asked in more car related circles about covering stuff, but occasionally amateur props makers also ask the best way to cover things, so I have tried to just show the very basics on this page.
Covering is more about good preparation work than huge amounts of skill, (Hey, if I can do it anyone can.) get everything sorted before the glue pot is opened and most times there are no problems.