How to Make a Great Pinewood Derby Car
We send out these instructions with the car kits we sell.
Step 1: Design Your Pinewood Derby Car Plan (Template).
Copy a plan or design you like, or, better yet, create your own design. Make a template or draw your design onto the side of the wood block.
Step 2: Cut the Pine Wood Block
For easiest major wood removal, have an adult cut the design outline with a power band saw or scroll saw (be sure to cut the side outline first). If you don't have access to power tools, you can do this with a wood rasp.
Step 3: Shape and Sand the Pinewood Derby Car
We recommend you use a wood rasp for major wood removal. Then, smooth with course sandpaper. Finish with 220-grit, extra-fine sandpaper.
Step 4: Add Weight to Your Pinewood Derby Car
Cars weigh approximately 2-3 ounces after being shaped and sanded. Your total weight for the finished car cannot be over 5 ounces. Place your car, 4 axles, and 4 wheels on a platform or postage type scale to see how much weight you need to add. You can either drill holes in the bottom of the block to add weight and then add molten lead (you can use car balancing weights from a tire shop) or you can poke lead wool (available at plumbing stores) into the holes. External weight could also be added. You should leave a little fudge-factor for the paint and hot glue that will hold the axles in place.
Step 5: Paint Your Derby Car
There are many ways to paint your car. We suggest that you use a primer or sealer. Then paint the car using a gloss enamel spray paint. Let the paint dry completely between coats. Then add your numbers, decals, etc.
Step 6: Mount the Wheels and Axles
The blocks have a pre-cut axle-groove. Lightly sand the axles to make them smooth. (Put pointed end into 1/4" or 3/8" electric drill chuck, spin up and polish with fine steel wool). With an adult's help, place the axles through the wheels and gently tap the axles in. Make sure the wheels are square with the car body. When spun, the wheels should move freely, but they should not wobble. After you have the wheels set, run a line of glue (we suggest using a glue gun) along the axle grooves to keep the wheels and axles in place.
Step 7: Plan to Keep Your Pinewood Derby Car in a Safe Place
A small shoe box works well. You might want to pack your car in an old hand towel-to add more protection.