Make Your Own Patch Board
Patches - like crack for gun guys. If you’re like all of us here - you have more patches than you have loop on your plate carriers, jackets, bags. Some have resorted to putting them on their vehicle headliner, others on the inside of their safes. But no one sees those! Here’s how to fix that! But first - the disclaimer!
******Follow this tutorial at your own discretion. We’re not responsible for your safety, ruined clothes, etc. Be safe and wear eye protection. Your mileage may vary.*******
Here are the steps we took to make a patch board that looks great and doesn’t sag or come apart.
Dollars and Sense:
You can build a simple patch board for less than $40 providing you have a decent set of tools. After doing several of these, it only takes 45 minutes or so calculating in drying time. Here’s what you need:
· MDF board cut to the size of your patch board
· Contact cement / glue
· Loop fabric
· Nail gun and nails
· Scissors or razor
· Clean open workspace
· Optional : Spray Glue
Step 1 - Building the substrate
A patch board starts with the board. I like using MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) - its clean, straight, smooth, and glues well. You can find these at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Sometimes you can find precut 2’ x 2’ panels and eliminates the cutting! For this model we used approximately a 2’ x 3’ piece. This piece ran us around $15.
Step 2 - Rough Cut the Loop
When everything is still clean, rough cut your loop. We have loop on hand at the shop as it goes in the Dapper products so I did have an advantage here. You can find “Velcro” loop at Walmart or a craft store or right now from Amazon.
Keep the material loop side up to keep it from getting debris in it and set your substrate board in the middle. Keep 3 to 5 inches or so around the edges. Allow for more if this is your first time. Cut the excess away with scissors. Then keep your piece off to the side.
Step 3 - Base Layer Glue
Now is the time to start gluing. I use DAP Wellwood Contact Cement - you can find this at most home improvement centers or even Walmart for about $15. A quart size will do several boards. This is thick and sticks really well -including headliners!
I started by brushing medium thickness layer onto the MDF with a 2” chip brush (cheap paintbrush - also at Walmart). This is where the “clean open workspace” comes in. This is potent stuff and will lay on a serious headache or worse. Once on, let dry for a few minutes.
Step 3 - Second Glue Layer
Go back and put a second coat of contact cement over the first. By the end of the second coat you want the entire board to be covered and decently thick. The idea here is there is enough glue that when applying the loop, the glue permeates into the base layer of the loop - preventing sagging and separation. Once the second coat is on, let it dry for a few more minutes.
Step 4 - Setting the Loop
Now comes the hardest part - attaching the loop fabric to the board. There’s two ways to go about this - I’ve had luck with both so plot the course you are most comfortable.
If you’re used to crafty activities or painting you can probably eye that sheen and feel the glue to find the point when the second layer of glue is semi-dry - the glue will be tacky but not messy. If you have it timed correctly, put the loop directly onto the semi-wet rubber cement.
Another route is using spray adhesive. If you choose this direction, spray generous amounts on the substrate and the back of the loop. Then before it dries attach the loop to the board.
Now you may be wondering - why even use the contact cement? Honestly, I am not a huge fan - the common 3m spray adhesive is expensive and I haven’t found it to be all that “sticky” no matter what grade the can says. Overtime I notice that the material glued tends to separate from the substrate. By spraying it on top of the rubber cement, the rubber cement is temporarily reactivated and gives a better bond than spray adhesive alone.
Step 5 - Smoothing the Loop
Once the loop is set, start in the middle and smooth out with your hand in a circular pattern away from the center. Continue pressing for several minutes - enough time to force the semi-dry glue into the bottom layer of the fabric. At this step you either have a winner or you don’t:
· If the glue is too wet, you may see some glue “seep through” into the loop field. Not ideal but not the end of the world. Just put a patch over it!
· If the glue is too dry, you’ll have week adhesion. If that’s the case, simply go back to Step 3 and put a new layer of glue down and retry.
Step 6 - Securing the Edges
Now that the precision work is done, it’s time to secure the edges. Turn the board onto its face so the back is up and simply pull the loose edges of the loop over the sides and onto the back.
Start in the middle of each side and work outwards towards the corners - this prevents an uneven, wavy appearance on the front. Use a good firm pull - similar to wringing a wet towel. Once pulled taut, start stapling! The more the better - but one stable every 3 or 4 inches is plenty.
Step 7 - Secure the Corners
This can get tricky but just work through it - folding the corners over and stapling. If it gets too thick on the back, you can cut away the loop. Unlike the glue stage, you can fold the corners down and see if it looks good. If it doesn’t, just refold until it looks even.
Step 8 - Remove Excess Loop
If you have a lot of loop on the back after stapling, you can cut the excess unsecured sections off. You can use scissors or a razor here.
That’s it! Enjoy your masterpiece! You can “install” your new patch board several ways. The easiest is to lean the board against a wall or on a mantle. You can screw the board to studs. You can attach a wire picture framing kit to the back and hang like a regular picture.
Now post your patch board pictures here and brag to your friends! Of course, you are probably the type to help them with theirs!