See there "Newbie", no need to blow a gasket. The VMF has all the answers, or someone will make one up! Sooo many of them dashes were wacked on there's a part made to fix it! Remember your not alone, couple hundred thousand been there and done that before you. That's why this wonderful place is here. Keep after it and have fun.
Well, if you are going to do the cowls, and can get a dash, it is only a little more work to get the dash out. Otherwise, you must remove the windshield, and drill out a bunch of spotwelds. Then remove the wiper motor bracket, and the pedal support to dash, then two spot welds on each side, behind the kick panels. I chose this route when I did my dash, because of the expertise of the welder (not really a bodyman)
I got the patch panel from NPD and was not pleased with the fit, so I didn't use it. My dash was cut for a different two knob radio, so it isn't cut badly. I have elected to get a radio delete plate to cover the damage and put a modern DIN radio in a custom console.
Don't ask for pictures since the car isn't very far along yet. When I get something thats not too embarassing I'll post pics.
I had to replace my dash because someone took a torch to it to get the pedal assy out. As Paulwall said, you've got to pull the windshield, but after that it's pretty straight forward. I cut my dash in the middle of the flat upper surface, near to and through some of the circular holes for the defroster ducts. I used them to align the new dash. welding on this upper surface doesn't have to be too pretty, the dash pad will cover it up. The only other welding, IIRC, is to two lower tabs at the bottom of the dash, and they are covered by the kick panels. There was some kind of seam sealer or filler on the sides of the dash where it met the forward door jamb.