Back in the Apr. '12 issue of R&C we demonstrated a time-tested technique while woodgraining the dash rail and garnish moldings of our friend Sam Strube's '30 Model A coupe. On a hobbyist level, success was achieved in Strube's residential garage, using the latex-gloved hands of his own mother who'd actually done the job once before—back in the '70s. Around that same period, I was doing a fair amount of 'graining myself, and in fact I'd even taught it once as part of a seminar at the old hometown paint store. Strube knew that, so I was invited in to bring his mom back up to speed. Before the refresher course was completed, however, she took off like a fish—in familiar water—without looking back.

Sometimes we've got to go with what we know. Since my own knowledge of woodgraining is limited, that night in Strube's garage was one of those times. For the sake of simplicity, the homegrown 'grain job was done as we did in the '70s, with a special blend of black 'n' brown 1 Shot lettering enamel. The 1 Shot was applied over a lighter shade of brown acrylic lacquer base, using wadded cheesecloth to create the desired effect. While such a simplified approach is inexpensive and easy for the first-time woodgrainer, it's not commonly embraced by the better pros today.

Here in Escondido, California, in the paint department of Hot Rods & Custom Stuff (HR&CS), we have an opportunity to observe a more contemporary type of woodgraining job, step-by-step and start-to-finish in a very professional environment. This time the canvas is comprised of a stock dash, custom sub-dash, and garnish moldings belonging to a wild, under-construction '40 Pontiac woodie. HR&CS painter, Andy, will demonstrate his own technique, utilizing the latest in California-compliant waterborne technology from PPG. As we'll attempt to illustrate in the following pictures, there's more than one way to woodgrain a dash. And this time instead of teaching, I'll be learning—perhaps right along with you.


1. So, here are the parts that we'll be woodgraining. Preparation varies from job to job, but the steps are essentially the same as they'd be for the car's outer body panels. At this stage, these parts are ready for spray booth setup and only a chemical cleaning away from being ready for non-sanding sealer.

2. With the dash parts and garnish moldings now secured to stands in HR&CS' state-of-the-art Garmat downdraft spray booth, the exhaust fan is running as a California-compliant pump sprayer delivers PPG's DX330 grease and wax remover. Before it can evaporate, it's wiped dry with surgically clean, disposable paper toweling.

3. Next, with clean, dry, compressed air and a fresh tack rag, Andy gives the soon-to-be sealed parts a final once-over before mixing and suiting-up to spray.

4. As we've hinted, this will be different than the previous garage woodgrain job, with no lacquer products and no "glub system" measurements here. Andy is PPG certified. For the job at hand, his sealer of choice is PPG's Envirobase ECS21, mixing is in exact accordance with its manufacturer's recommendations.

5. This type of sealer comes in different colors. Andy has chosen white for easy coverage by the upcoming light brown base. As we know from previous R&C tech, waterborne materials call for a somewhat different method of spray application, and here two coats are applied. As a serious professional, Andy favors Iwata spray equipment.

6. Next, while allowing sufficient flash time for the freshly applied sealer, it's time to mix a light brown basecoat. Using the woodie's tailgate as a guide, Andy plans to match the lightest tone.

7. Here at the mixing bank, we have access to the entire range of PPG's waterborne Envirobase toners. Even so, an eye for color is required for a quick color match without waste—and Andy's got it.

8. My, what a big pattern you have, Andy. As the first of four coats of base is applied, the painter in me is impressed with the width of the Iwata's fan. Although this adjustment may be overkill for small parts, it makes a nice option for larger panels and/or complete paintjobs. I might have to test-drive an Iwata one day.

9. After this last color coat is applied, Andy takes a second time out for routine 'gun maintenance. Waterborne basecoats require adequate airflow, and oven baking also helps to speed the flash time along.

10. Here's our chance, so let's take a good look at this factory hot rod. This is an Iwata LPH400 gravity-feed HVLP. Just behind it we see the materials that will be used next. For this particular job, Andy has opted for PPG's D8188 Glamour LV clearcoat, with thinner and hardener chosen to match this day's weather conditions.