Custom Tooling Blocks Save Time, Money: Here’s Why

In addition to manufacturing the largest and thickest sheets in the tooling industry, Coastal Enterprises also offers an additional service to our customers: custom-bonded Precision Board tooling blocks.

“Some of the layup tools we made at Skunk Works were absolutely massive, which meant CNC time was a major factor when determining project deadlines.  Coastal’s custom bonded blocks saved us hours on the CNC and ensured we stayed on time and on budget – they are the true gold standard in tooling efficiency.”

– Jon Sharp, former Lockheed Martin employee and air racing legend, on why custom bonded blocks were their go-to choice for large tooling jobs.

Advantages of custom tooling blocks:

  • Save money by using less material
  • Decrease machining time by being closer to net size from the start
  • Arrives ready for immediate machining

With only a rough drawing of your finished part, we will fabricate a custom block that will significantly reduce waste, bonding/laminating time, and reduce time spent machining.


Save machining time and material cost
By layering the sheets of Precision Board Plus PBLT-40 with just enough excess to accommodate the customers tool design, we saved them hours of machining time. Think of how long it would take to CNC machine a solid block down to this shape! Also think of the cost savings on tooling board. Call us at: (800) 845-0745 with questions on your project!



This custom block is made out of Precision
Board Plus PBLT-10, and was machined into a mold to create one of the three composite body sections for the landspeed record-holding Speed Demon race car (see full article here), operated by George Poteet and Ron Main. In addition to buying less material, they also saved money by eliminating the plug process.

Fore Body 1

A pioneer in the use of soft tooling, Jon Sharp  shared his opinion on the advantages of custom-bonded tooling blocks with us in our previous article featuring him and his time at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

“Another major reason we were so drawn to HDU for tooling was the greater level of design flexibility that was suddenly available. We used to order our blocks several inches thicker than we needed them, which made the inevitable design changes much less of a headache. Could we have done that with metal? Absolutely not, we would have had to start all over again.”

-Jon Sharp

Whether its a composite layup tool, full-scale model, prototype, sculpture or other project – our custom tooling blocks will help keep you competitive, on schedule and on budget! Please contact us for additional information, or visit our Custom Tooling Blocks webpage.


Commercial Truck Composite Cab – How It’s Made

Since 1999, Daycab Company, in Rockwood, TN, has been using composites to retrofit class 8 commercial trucks with sleeper cabs to day cabs. Why would anyone be interested in having the sleeper cab removed, and a composite day cab installed you ask? Once a commercial truck gets to a certain age, many fleets will not run them and purchase new ones. The old trucks are then auctioned off, and are popular among local farmers, short haul companies and dealerships. The large abundance means they sell quite cheap.[divider_padding]

Peterbilt semi truck with sleeper original sleeper installed

Peterbilt with sleeper removed and void showing

Precision Board rough shaped and glued together


When first speaking with Zach Martin, Product Design Specialist and Machine Programmer at Daycab Company, I was surprised to hear that commercial trucks were quite desirable with the sleeper cabs removed. The reasons for this vary: farmers like non-sleeper cabs because loading in grain or other products at a station might have a height restriction that a sleeper can’t meet. Removing a sleeper also saves on weight, which could instead be used for carrying more cargo.

Machining for male mold #1

Machining of male mold #2

Machining of male mold #3


Short haul companies have the same issue as farmers with the weight of the sleeper and cargo, and because they work in more localized areas (farms, rock yards and landscaping companies), they require better visibility out the back.

Daycab logo being machined into male mold

Precision Board male mold machining process complete

Sealer and Vinyl Ester applied and being sanded


Precision Board Plus HDU is used to manufacture the part used to fill the void created once the sleeper cab is removed. In this case, a Peterbilt semi truck is going to be converted. With the cab removed and the void exposed, Precision Board Plus HDU is machined using a 5-axis CNC router. This male mold is then coated with a sealer, vinyl ester, and is sanded. Red hard gelcoat and fiberglass is applied, to start the female mold. Plaster, fiberglass and resin complete the final stages.

Red hard gelcoat and fiberglass/resin coat (start of female mold)

Plaster, fiberglass, and resin coating to finalize making of female mold

Production ready female mold completed and pulled from Precision Board male mold


Once the female mold is completed, gelcoat and fiberglass is shot to make the final production part. The part is completed by being trimmed on a CNC machine, and is then painted and installed on the Peterbilt truck, providing a great looking finished product.

Gelcoat and fiberglass/resin shot into female mold

Production part pulled from female mold

Part completed by being trimmed on a CNC machine


Daycab Company is owned by Marc Wagers and converts over 1500 commercial trucks a year. They offer pre-built kits, can ship anywhere, and also have their own install shop. Check out additional details on their website at

Part painted and installed on truck

Final product: Peterbilt Day Hauler



Thermoformed Likes it Turnkey

Thermoformed Plastic Products, located in the Air Capital of the World, manufactures Vacuum Form tools, Master models, CNC holding fixtures, Composite Layup molds and other tooling for many of the well-known aerospace companies.  TPP chooses Precision Board Plus and Coastal Enterprises to help them get the job done efficiently and on time.  “At TPP, we like turnkey.  We can order a custom-bonded block, or just order a block large enough, that we don’t have to take time to bond up large shapes before starting the machining operation,” says co-owner Chet Hunter.

Vacuum Form Fixtures


Ordering ready-to-machine, custom blocks and large sizes is just one reason why TTP chooses Precision Board Plus as Chet adds “Precision Board Plus is always available in a broad array of sizes, quick to machine, and easier to seal than other substrates.”  Call Thermoformed Plastic Products for your next fixture, model, or tooling needs at (316) 841-8398 or (316) 214-9623.

Vacuum Formed Tool PBLT-30 Custom Bonded Tooling Blocks