I am in the process of replacing my switchpanel in my 34ft yacht and am seeking advice as to the best material to use to mount the switches, gauges, etc. into. Whatever I use will be framed with timber.
Any recommended thicknesses of what you recommend would also be appreciated.
Depending on the look required, plywood or acrylic. Both easy to work and cheap to replace if you want to rearrange the knobs and dials down the track. 1/4"" for plywood and 1.8 to 3/16 acrylic should be more than adequate for an average sized panel.
Thin sheet aluminum is a very good material. It is easy to work with and you can find it powder coated or paint it yourself. Plastic is good too. Don't use anything too thick though. You will have trouble using the screws that come with circuit breakers if the material is too thick.
HDPE (High Density Polyethelene) is a good plastic material. It doesn't crack as easily as, say, plexiglass (acrylic).
If you want to use aluminum, take a look at Front Panel Express (http://www.frontpanelexpress.com/). They have free software you can download that makes it pretty easy to create a good-looking panel. I use this for a black-anodized panel with lettering and it came out well.
Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA www.sailvalis.com
Boat: Oday Mariner 19 , Four Winns Marquis 16 OB, Kingfisher III
Re: Switchpanel material
1/8" aluminum (anodized or epoxy painted) will likely be the most durable but it's harder to work. Acrylic works well but is easier to crack while making it. G10 or similar fiberglasssheets are great but again a bit hard to work.