Cutting cars by hand

How to have useful construction workshops.
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Lead Reindeer
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Cutting cars by hand

Post by Lead Reindeer » Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:33 pm

We are thinking of holding a workshop as we have as bunch of new tigers coming in this year. If there is a weakness in making the derby car at a workshop, it is cutting the car by hand, IMO. How long should we plan for it to take to cut out a basic "thin" shape from the official block? Thank you in advance.



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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by Speedster » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:42 pm

52 seconds with a Disston Model C-1/26" 8 point crosscut hand saw. A line drawn through the block will give you 2 even wedge shaped cars. Axle slots will have to be cut into one of the wedges.



Lead Reindeer
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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by Lead Reindeer » Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:41 pm

That is a very clever response. We could cut some cars like that, simple yet aerodynamic. I'll take that to the team and see what they think. Thanks for taking the time to reply.



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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by rpcarpe » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:36 pm

As kids, me and my brothers all whittled our cars with our brand new cub scout knives. Then we hand sanded. Forever.

Coping saw cuts take a bit longer... and you must have a good clamping system in place.


My wife started a new support group... Widows of the Pinewood Derby.

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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by DerbyDash » Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:49 pm

Agree with the comment about the coping saw.....had a little "accident" last year when we were cutting our his car, it slipped slightly in the vice and my son ended up giving me some "red parallel lines" on the back of my hand! :rofl: After that, the dremel was our best friend for the rest of the shaping of the car.

Yes, it was my fault but it does happen!



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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by rpcarpe » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:31 pm

Hand cutting hand?! Sorry, I laughed when I read that. I've lost a lot of fingerprints to my vicious belt sander.

I loan my low power Dremel (Harbor Freight sells a cheap wimpy one) to kids to shape. If they show some skill/control they can use the 'big' one.

Maybe a miter box with good clamps... saw down the length of the box?


My wife started a new support group... Widows of the Pinewood Derby.

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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by rcmoeur » Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:58 pm

Just finished our first workshop of the year. Not much turnout on a rainy day. But the Tiger that showed up wanted his car to have a certain design - and since I don't have a scroll saw or band saw, he cut it out with a miter saw, coping saw, and wood rasp (with, admittedly, some help from an adult or two). Turned out fine after some sanding.

My son (Wolf), perceiving the effort involved, promptly modified his design to a "curved-nose wedge", and made the single cut quite successfully (although the block was a bit ornery).

A good start to a hopefully-good season. We'll have several more to accommodate busy schedules.

One notable thing, though: both kits, purchased by the Pack in late 2012, had old-style wheels. I'll talk about that elsewhere on the boards.



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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by rpcarpe » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:19 am

How many kids showed for the workshop?

We now post the flyers at the Scout shop when the kits come in, and it's pushed at Round Table and posted on-line.
Plus, we've had a few 'winners' come out of it, so that spreads the word quickly.

Good Luck!


My wife started a new support group... Widows of the Pinewood Derby.

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Nitro Dan
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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by Nitro Dan » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:25 am

Lead Reindeer wrote:We are thinking of holding a workshop as we have as bunch of new tigers coming in this year. If there is a weakness in making the derby car at a workshop, it is cutting the car by hand, IMO. How long should we plan for it to take to cut out a basic "thin" shape from the official block? Thank you in advance.
When I first started working with Pinewood Derby cars, we fashioned a jig that would hold the block so it could be cut lengthwise using a hand miter saw fastened to a bench stand. It took about 2 to 3 minutes to cut throught the block lengthwise (from the side), but it would produce 1/4" to 3/8" thin slabs off the block. We've had to go to power saws since.

-Nitro Dan
Last edited by Nitro Dan on Fri May 23, 2014 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Cutting cars by hand

Post by TXDerbyDad » Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:29 am

The fact of the matter is that anything other than simple designs takes time with a hand saw. We started our derby career with the wedge, then a modified wedge. The modified took 3x the time it took to just cut out the initial wedge shape. Think of a wedge marrying the speed swoop design.

We cut ours out on a scroll saw, though my boys are pragmatic enough to want a design that they think will win instead of looking flashy, so it never gets too complicated.



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