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Old 03-04-2014, 05:01 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: seattle area
Posts: 8
steering wheel wood

anyone ever tried refinishing the wood on a steering wheel? just wondering how tough the factory finish might be,
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Old 04-29-2014, 12:01 AM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Seattle
Posts: 24
Refinishing steering wheel

It must be a little bit of a difficulty since the aftermarket people get a fair amount for it. A good one is in Texas. They really look good for $550 including new leather.
If I had an old one I would definitely try and redo it after probably talking to a few pro's around here. I live in the Magnolia area of Seattle so I can give you my two cents' worth if you want to swing on by.
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Old 06-03-2014, 05:52 PM
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: San Gabriel, CA
Posts: 15
steering whell refinishing

I've done several wood rim steering wheels of the Nardi, Momo, Personal style. They're typically coated in an epoxy product, and it's very tough stuff. Jasco brand stripper (Home Depot) kind of works to some extent, but anything less than that won't touch it. Get a tray or pan with 1-2" sides, wide enough to hold the wheel. Mask the spokes of the wheel very carefully and heavily. Put the wheel in the pan face down and pour in enough Jasco to cover without letting the Jasco get into the joints where the spokes meet the wood. Let it sit at least overnight. That should soften the epoxy enough that you can scrape most of it off with a paint scraper, trying not to dig into the wood. What you can't get at with the Jasco, you'll have to scrape off without chemical help. When it's stripped and clean, start sanding with something like 80 or 120, depending on how rough you've been with the scraper, and progress to something like 400. (Don't start sanding until you've got all the old finish scraped off.) The epoxy finish used at the factory seems to be tinted (or maybe just yellowed). I use a clear high-gloss polyurethane spar varnish that advertises UV protection, so I have to stain or the wheel looks too pale. I use Behlens Solar-Lux aniline dye because it gives very deep colors. It's sold on line various places. A brown mahogany color looks nice, and sometimes I add a little black to it to show the grain better. After several applications, when it's dry and looks a little darker than you would prefer the final color to be, start spraying with the spar varnish. Wear gloves and hold the wheel by the spokes. I use at least 8-10 coats, which is usually more than one can. Put on enough coats so that when you sand the varnish down past the grain pits, you don't sand completely through the varnish. Start with something like 220 and continue to 400. After you've got a perfect matte finish with 400, shoot on one more medium coat of varnish. After you're done and the wheel is in the car, you should always use a windshield sun screen, because there is no stain that can withstand continued exposure to the sun without fading, and it will fade more at the top of the wheel than anywhere else because that portion of the wheel is most exposed to the sun. Steering wheel refinishing is labor intensive, but it can be done, and it can look great.

Charlie Koster
San Gabriel, CA
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