Can creating a Pinewood Derby car be fun and challenging? Yes, but the ultimate goal is to win the race. There are several factors that can influence the performance of your car. However, one of the most crucial ones is the car’s shape. Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right shape for your Pinewood Derby car:
1. Consider the feasibility of a particular design.
Before you start designing your Pinewood Derby car on paper, consider how feasible it would be to create it. After designing a car with the perfect aerodynamics, you might determine that building it isn’t practical. Perhaps it would be too difficult to shape. Maybe it would require too many person-hours. So consider these issues even before you start designing your car.
2. More cuts doesn’t always equal a faster car
While you want your car to be as aerodynamic as possible, that doesn’t mean that the wood block needs 1,001 cuts. In fact, it’s possible to shape your Pinewood Derby car effectively, by using fewer cuts. What’s more important than the number of cuts that you make, is where you make them. For instance, how you cut the sides of the car is particularly important. So do some research to determine the most effective approaches to take.
3. Make the front of the car obvious
That’s because an official may be the person who sets the car on the track. If the front of the car isn’t clear, then your car could actually race backwards on the track!
4. Add weight after shaping the car
After shaping the car, it will basically be a lightweight. You can use a variety of methods to add weight back onto the car. The typical weight limit for Pinewood Derby races is five ounces. So your goal should be to add as much weight to your car as possible, without exceeding the weight limit.
Speaking of weight, when designing your car it’s important to preserve enough wood in the back half of the car. That will provide enough space to add weights, such as lead, pennies, and so on. Adding weight to the back will increase the speed of the car.
5. Avoid a sharp point in the front
The reason is that you might have difficulty positioning the car on the pin, located at the starting gate.
6. Make the car as smooth as possible
Besides the general shape of your Pinewood Derby car, it’s also important that you smooth out all of the rough edges on it. Not only will this help your car to look smooth as silk, but it will also be more aerodynamic. Remember that the biggest enemy of a Pinewood Derby car is friction. And that includes friction caused by unsmooth surfaces. You can use a variety of materials to smooth the car’s body– including sandpaper, a wood file, a rasp, and so on.
When designing a Pinewood Derby car whether from a pinewood derby car kit or from scratch, the car’s shape is one of its most crucial features. These tips will help your car not only to look slicker, but also to race faster.