Getting Started in Pinewood Derby: Step-by-Step Workbook to Building Your First Car

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Overview

Follow Dash Derby on an adventure through the 7 easy steps to building your first Pinewood Derby race car. No woodworking skills are required for this family fun project--just patience and the desire to have a good time!
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Overview

Follow Dash Derby on an adventure through the 7 easy steps to building your first Pinewood Derby race car. No woodworking skills are required for this family fun project--just patience and the desire to have a good time!
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
I recently received a copy of Getting Started in Pinewood Derby by Troy Thorne. This colorful workbook goes through all of the steps involved in building a car. My favorite thing about the book is that it is directed at Cub Scouts - who should be doing most of the work on their cars. It includes lots of very nice step-by-step photos, so young car builders can understand what needs to be done.

The book is divided into 7 "sessions", which help keep the process from seeming overwhelming to a young Scout:

Shopping - This section will help your Cub Scout put together a shopping list of everything he needs. It even helps him decide which items he will need from the hardware store and which things he might find at a craft store.
Shaping - In this session, the Scout learns how to use a pencil and ruler to mark the car. He will also learn how to use a coping saw and sanding techniques. There are 12 patterns in the back of the book for getting that shape just right, plus a blank template grid for creating a custom shape.
Painting - The painting section doesn't just include instructions for painting,. It also includes instructions for using tape to prevent gumming up the slots with paint and applying decals. Plus this session includes some very creative alternatives to painting. A dozen design ideas are presented along with ways for him to let his creativity run wild.
Axle Prep - Axle prep is a must if your son is concerned with speed. This session goes through detailed instructions to get those axles as smooth as possible. The pictures in this section really are worth 1000 words.
Wheel Prep - Like axle prep, wheel prep can really help your son's car speed down the track. This session goes through how your son can get those wheels smooth for optimal performance.
Weighting - After all else is finished, the goal is to get the car as close to 5 ounces as possible without going over. Lighter cars will not go as fast. Cars over 5 ounces are disqualified. This session gives instructions for attaching weights for best performance.
Test Runs - This session shows how to do some test runs at home, without an official track. Your Cub Scout can find out if his car pulls to the left or right (which will slow it down) and how to correct the problem.

There are a few additional chapters, including some car patterns and a memories section for pictures and memories of the big race. Plus, it includes the official Pinewood Derby rules. Throughout the workbook, the young reader is guided by Dash Derby, a colorful cartoon character.

While the subtitle of the book is "Step-by-Step Workbook to Building Your First Car", ZM - who is a Webelos II and is working on his last car - spent a long time looking through it and got some fresh ideas for his final car. When I asked him what he though about the book, he said

It gave me lots of good ideas. I know what I want to do now. I'm going to do a wedge with wrapping paper sides and a Webelos 2 on top. It's going to have a blue background with a yellow stripe.

So whether your Cub Scout has never built a car before or if he is just looking for something different to do, I recommend this book. It is available on Amazon: Getting Started in Pinewood Derby: Step-by-Step Workbook to Building Your First Car Book Review: Getting Started in Pinewood Derby

Most kids speak with great nostalgia when the subject of Pinewood Derby cars is brought up. Designs from the speedy and elegant to the loud, and in my case at least, ridiculous. However there are a growing group of both parents and kids who know don't know a thing about how to craft a racer or what's possible to do in the first place. Our friend Troy Thorne over at Fox Chapel Publishing recently wrote Getting Started in Pinewood Derby to try and remedy that.

Troy has an excellent way of breaking the process down and giving step by step instuctions that builders of any age can both understand and duplicate complete with sweet pictures and helpful tips that get you over the rough spots.

There are also a dozen plans in the book that can be cut out and used as templates to replicate his designs exactly and give the other competitors a run for their money. Couple this with the painting ideas, axle and wheel prep, weighting and test run instructions and you've got 95 pages of racer building know how to back you and the young'n up.

When we met him at Maker Faire a few years ago our first question to Troy was "Do your designs really work?" He pointed us over to his booth where he had close to 50 lightning fast racers on display with a test track set up behind them and told us to find out for ourselves. We did. They Do.

If you're looking for step-by-step awesome in a book that will put a smile on your kids face and be competitive entry into the local race Mr. Thorne's Getting Started in Pinewood Derby is a great start.

is directed at both kids and grownups interested in getting started with these wooden racecars. No initial woodworking knowledge is necessary, and the book includes comic book style illustrations and tips for kids, as well as 12 car patterns, paint designs, and ideas for personalizing your racecar. Author and illustrator Troy Thorne is a father and a Scouting volunteer.

I was really excited when I first saw this book - the graphics just look like so much fun. I couldn't wait to see what was inside.

Inside, I was not disappointed. Not only does it include wonderful, very clear photos for the step-by-step process of building a derby car, but there are also funny jokes shared by the cute little "Dash Derby" character posted throughout the book, that add to its uniqueness and its "draw" for children and youth.

Beyond the cuteness factor, this books is technical - but not in a professional woodworker kind of way. Next to the photos and directions that show how to tape sandpaper to a work surface and move the wood rather than the sandpaper to sand, there are these words of wisdom, "Before you ask your mom or dad where they keep the elbow grease [...] "Elbow Grease" is what people say when they mean that doing something will take some hard work!"

The book takes the builder through gathering the materials needed, building the car, making sure it is within regulations, decorating it, making sure it works perfectly, and then, finally what to do on race day - including having backup materials for not only your car but for your friends'/competitors' as well. How cool is that!

My Ratings of The Book
Layout and Appearance: Inviting, inspiring and informative. Thumbs Up!
Instructions: Clear information and instructions - and done in a fun way. Thumbs Up!
Projects Selection: A variety of plans provided to inspire creativity. Great.
Inspiration: I want to attend a derby race to see some of these cars in action. Thumbs Up!
Overall: Thumbs Up!

In May of 1953 Cub Scout Master Don Murphy came up with the idea of a Pinewood derby and this has become an annual event. Specific rules have been laid out and Pinewood Derby races are held throughout the US.

Troy Thorne wrote this step-by-step workbook as a guide to building your first race car and the book has been illustrated by Jason Deller. In May of 1953 Cub Scout Master Don Murphy came up with the idea of a Pinewood derby and this has become an annual event. Specific rules have been laid out and Pinewood Derby races are held throughout the US.

Troy Thorne wrote this step-by-step workbook as a guide to building your first race car and the book has been illustrated by Jason Deller. There are a dozen classic design patterns to work with and the book is rife with racing tips to help your car take the checkered flag. Great fun!

DERBY MANUAL FOR BEGINNERS
On your mark, get set, are you ready to create a winning race car from a block of wood and plastic wheels?

Pinewood Derby racing season is approaching, with Cub Scouts starting at the end of December. And a similar event, Awana Grand Prix, held by the religious organization, gets into gear in January.

Rookie racers (and their parents) can find help in Troy Thorne's "Getting Started in Pinewood Derby: A Step-By-Step Workbook to Building Your First Car," just published by Fox Chapel Publishing, East Petersburg.

The 96-page glossy paperback manual is filled with step-by-step kid-friendly instructions, accompanied by colorful photos and illustrations, even patterns.

Thorne's first tips are for parents: "The car doesn't have to be perfect ? if just needs to be your kid's!" they should keep in mind "[i]t's impossible for your child to fully experience the Pinewood Derby if YOU build the car."

Following pages of advice on design selection, safety considerations and tools, cartoon character Dash Derby leads the way ? through shopping, shaping, painting, axle and wheel prep, weighting and test runs ? to race day.

There's even a section in the back to log race results and paste photos of the car under construction ? and perhaps in front of the checkered flag.

Thorne appears to have all the qualifications to offer advice: experienced woodworker, assistant scoutmaster and father of two race participants, one of whom was a national finalist in the All-Star Derby Design Contest.

This year's Pinewood Derby is still fresh in our memories. Though we did not win, it was, as before, great fun and we are looking forward to next year's Derby already and my son has a pattern picked out along with decoration ideas.

The perfect book for a pinewood derby beginner or even someone who has done it before - this book offers great tips, step-by-step instructions with detailed photos for each step. The Pinewood Derby will be a breeze by the time you are done reading this book. The book is aimed at the scout and a friendly cartoon character called Dash derby guides the young readers through the process of building their very own Pinewood Derby car. The book is divided into helpful, progressive sections making it easy for the young uns' as well as the parents to understand:

Starting off with a list of basic skills, items needed as well as dos and don'ts (including telling parents to let the boys build!), the book then has seven chapters as below:

1. Shopping - A handy, comprehensive shopping list is included here.

2. Shaping - How to transform the block to a fancy car! Provides a tool list as well as detailed instructions with photos on how to use the tools to do this magical first transformation. Helpful tips are included to make the car a racing machine.

3. Painting - Tips, tricks, material lists, patterns, and ideas as well as various options to paint and decorate and jazz up your car are all included in this super helpful chapter.

4. Axle Prep and 5.Wheel Prep - Axle and Wheel prep help the car turn into the race car it is to be soon - proper preparation of these two help speed up the car.

6. Weighting - This is definitely important since if too heavy (over 5 ounces), then that means disqualification and if too light, then chances are that the car might not be at optimal speed. Again, tips and tricks are provided to get the car to a proper weight.

7. Test Runs - Last but not the least, this provides an opportunity to do test runs at home and figure out last minute adjustments before doing test runs on the official race track and before the big race!

In addition, patterns are provided along with spaces to jot in precious memories of race day along with your own photographs.

Rating: A

Reading Level: All cub scouts and parents

This last weekend my neighbor and his son (age 7) invited my son, Decker (almost 5), to come and watch his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby race. If you're not familiar with this event, the Cub Scouts host a race every year where the participants take a standard block of wood and four plastic wheels and turn it into a pure racing machine or something else. It's been over 30 years for me, but I still remember my dad taking me out into the workshop and helping me use his bandsaw and sander to carve up my own car, #87. It wasn't much to look at, but it was mine. It still sits on a bookshelf in my office as a reminder of not only the race but also the time I spent with my dad at a very young age, learning to use some basic woodworking tools.

Decker isn't quite old enough yet for the Cub Scouts, but he absolutely loved looking at the 100+ cars sitting on display for the judges to examine and weigh. All cars must weigh less than 5 ounces, but racers try to hit as close to 5 ounces as possible because the weight of the car affects its speed when it is released on the downward-pointing ramp. There were a lot of interesting solutions to getting the cars up in weight (the block weighs about 1.4 ounces and the wheels and paint add enough to bring it up to about 4.3 ounces so there's some wiggle room for embellishment and personalization of a racer's vehicle.)

Races this day were performed 4 cars at a time. To ensure fairness, multiple races were performed with each car racing on a different track (1, 2, 3, or 4); I'm guessing this is done because maybe one or more tracks run faster or have a better/smoother surface. Whatever the reasons, each scout gets to see his car race multiple times. Awards were given out for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes for different troops/ages as well as some design awards.

In addition to taking my son, I also took along a set of 4 books provided to me by Fox Chapel Publishing that relate to the Pinewood Derby. I passed the books around to the various scouts and parents, letting them take a look at the information that I'd already read and discovered about creating a great racer.

The first book, Getting Started in Pinewood Derby by Troy Thorne, is the clear choice for the beginning scout. It's a full-color book with some really detailed photos showing how to cut, carve, paint, and decorate your racer. There's advice on safety, tips on making the wheels run faster and smoother, help with getting your car to the proper weight, and a great little documentation section at the back for recording information about your racer such as race times and taping in some photos. You'll also find a small number of templates that can be cut out (or photocopied) and taped over the block of wood, helping you make the proper cuts to shape your block of wood into some really cool designs.

Hands down, this is one of the best little books I've seen on basic woodworking skills, and I'm very impressed with the cartoon character of Dash Derby who provides tips and advice throughout the book on improving your racer's odds in the final race. The actual instructions in the book are written for a young reader, and I'm very happy to see that Thorne wrote the book not for the parent, but for the scout - simple language and short sentences for each full color photo make it easy to follow along and tweak your racer's wheel alignment, decal placement and many other racer details. The book follows loosely the format of a comic book in many sections, with balloon windows showing a step and POW BANG BAP sound effect graphics added for fun. This 96 page book is the perfect gift for any new Cub Scout, but honestly the book is pure fun and would make a great parent/child project for any weekend.

I'm already planning on visiting the scout supply store here in Atlanta and obtaining the block/wheels kit because Decker asked after the event if we could make a car. Actually, I plan on buying two kits one for him and one for me. Why my own kit? Because of the next book.

Pinewood Derby Designs & Patterns is another book by Troy Thorne. This 118 page book follows a similar format as the previously mentioned book, but this one is all about variety. It does have some additional woodworking tips and advice, but these are scattered throughout the book and picked up depending on the type of racer you wish to create. The racers in the Getting Started in Pinewood Derby book are great, but if you've got a child looking to create a real eye-catching racer, this is the companion book you'll want to grab. I'm not kidding - some of the designs in this book are almost unbelievable given that they all start with a single small block of wood. And the painting and decal applying tips are much more advanced in this book, but still within the skill range of any young child with some adult supervision. Much of the design work in this book is done using a Dremel or similar rotary powered tool, and one look at some of the car shapes in its pages will tell you that a small coping saw won't be enough. That said, you can still do all the major cuts with a basic saw and then switch to the rotary tool for the more detailed shaping.

At the back of the book you'll once again get some templates for a variety of designs including a Mini Cooper, a NASCAR stock car vehicle, an Army Jeep, a Ferrari, and a couple of classic jalopies. (The Stock Car and Army Jeep are unbelievable in their details, but just take a look at the cover to see the #37 Red Racer with exposed carburetors and exhaust to get an idea of just how crazy this book takes the subject of design.) But let me repeat my earlier statement - after reading through this entire book, there is nothing in here that a scout couldn't do with help from a parent. Kids age 7 or 8 and up should be able to do much of the work themselves if they read the instructions carefully and have an adult on hand to help with the more dangerous tools. And by the way, the section on applying decals is excellent - I've always wondered how one might go about applying custom color designs and the information on the use of tape, wax paper, and a few other tools is well worth the price of the book alone.

The third book turned out to be the most popular - I had a lot of parents and kids writing down the title and a few asking if they could borrow it for a few days. It's titled Pinewood Derby Speed Secrets and it's written by David Meade (and illustrated by Troy Thorne). This book is all about the competition, but it's got some really amazing bonus items such as a great little essay in the front on the history of the Pinewood Derby. It's so cool to see photos of the early days of this event as well as the typical design and look of the earlier racers. There's also some great advice for parents early in the book about working with your child, teaching them concepts of racing (such as aerodynamics, potential energy, friction, and inertia) and discussing some pros and cons of design. (I never really gave much thought to the shape of the nose, but the author makes a solid point in explaining why you don't want a tapered nose on your car - lesson learned.)

The first project in the book is called The Winning Car and it's a beautifully shaped vehicle that looks almost like my original car so many years ago (it's the red racer in the back on the cover. It's a tapered design and I believe most kids would be able to build this racer on their own. What's nice is that this basic racer is used to teach so many tool and woodworking techniques that are then used again throughout the book. Two additional racers (The Champion Car in the middle on the cover and The Ultimate Car, the yellow vehicle at the front on the cover) are covered in detail and then additional chapters cover wheel and axle preparation. This book, however, has the ultimate tips and advice on wheel prep in my opinion, and I'm blown away by the time spent on prepping the wheels to run smoother and faster and the techniques used. The book finishes up with some great full-color examples of other racers as well as a handful of new templates that can be copied and glued onto a block for cutting and shaping.

Finally, the last book I shared with the parents and scouts was the Pinewood Derby Workbook & Logbook by Troy Thorne. This short 32 page book is a real eye-catcher. Full color photos of some car ideas adorn the inside cover and then the book offers up a variety of workbook pages that allow your young racer to document things such as their prototype design sketches using some graph paper templates. Other templates allow you to transfer your side and top prototype designs to a wraparound templates that can be cut out and taped or glued to the block for the actual cutting and shaping part of the project. There are templates for designing the car's color and decal placement (the back inside cover has a large assortment of full-color patterns for the car's color scheme) and a really useful page for recording the weights of all the individual pieces prior to assembly - shaped and painted block, four wheels, four axles - so you can determine the amount of extra weight you need to add to bring the car up to 5 ounces.

Then the workbook moves on to pages that allow you to troubleshoot alignment by recording various test runs and writing down your observations about the car's behavior. The book finishes up by providing some Race Day logs for recording the Lane # and the Time and Position of your racer. Some tips and reminders for race day are included in a small checklist so you don't forget things like glue, graphite, screwdriver, tape, camera, and pen or pencil. The last few pages includes a place to glue or tape in photos of your car in the various building stages and record details about your car, your friends' cars, and the race results of the day and, of course, your favorite memories about the event. A nice big page offers a place for a larger photo of your final vehicle.

If you've got a Cub Scout or a young boy who will be joining the Cub Scouts soon, you're going to be swamped with information about all the events this organization puts together. But the Pinewood Derby event is one of the most memorable ones at least to my memory. It's not about winning, of course, but I have to admit that it's awfully fun to have a car that can really put on some speed and a good showing. Any of these books would make a great gift for a young scout or really any young child. Boy or girl, building a racer with your child is one of those projects that can be done in an afternoon and will be memorable to all involved. Even if you're not involved in the Cub Scouts, there's nothing to prevent you from designing a few racers and having your own race - there are instructions and vendors all over the Internet for putting together your own track, so don't let that stop you.

Decker's not letting up on his request to build a racer, so I've got to get over to the scout supply store sometime this week so we can start on a couple of racers this weekend. I think I'm looking forward to it even more than he is not the final racer, but the time spent together.

GETTING STARTED IN PINEWOOD DERBY, by Troy Thorne, is a step-by-step workbook that teaches adults and children how to spend quality time together while building their first Pinewood Derby car. Colorfully illustrated in comic-book style, this handy guide provides 12 patterns and paint designs from which to choose and ideas for personalizing a race car. It?s perfect for the woodworker who wants to share some shop time with a son or daughter.

My son is a Cub Scout. Last year, my son and husband built a car that barely made it down the track. Obviously, my son was very disappointed! This year, I received the Getting Started in Pinewood Derby Step-by-Step Workbook to Building Your First Car. While it wasn't the first car my son and husband ever built together, this year's car was the first successful car, and this book was wonderful.

As the title implies, this book gives step-by-step instructions on how to build a Pinewood Derby car. It covers everything, including the needed tools, shaping and sanding, painting, weights, construction, and even troubleshooting a car that doesn't drive straight. Throughout the book, there are simple tips and tricks, used for shape as well as decoration, which make building the car even easier. Furthermore, there are so many ideas, tips, and tricks presented, that not all of them could possibly be used on one car. At the very end, there are a couple of pages for a Memories Record, with space for pictures and race records.

My son has a tendency to "put the cart before the horse," so to speak, and having the instructions in front of him helped to keep him focused on the step at hand. It also helped my husband to guide him through the process of building the car. In the end, my son had a car he was proud of--with wheels that turned well. His car was not the fastest, but that did not matter. He was proud of his hard work and the fabulous car he had created. I recommend this book for any Cub Scout and father trying to build a car together.

Library Journal
Pinewood Derby—the Boy Scout project where children build and race wooden model cars—is a popular activity in a variety of youth groups. Model enthusiast and Boy Scout leader Thorne (Pinewood Derby Designs & Patterns) shares his extensive knowledge in this accessible guide. Thorne covers all aspects of Pinewood Derby racing, from designing and decorating the car to what to expect on race day. The comic book-style illustrations add appeal for children, and the step-by-step instructions eliminate the intimidation factor for parents who aren't woodworkers but want to share in their children's excitement about Pinewood Derby racing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565236172
  • Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 791,693
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Creative Director for Fox Chapel Publishing, and a Pinewood Derby-winning dad, Troy Thorne is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, and spent over 10 years in the advertising field. He is an active scouting volunteer, builds furniture and canoes, and works with his son who was a national finalist in the All-Star Derby Design Contest.
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Table of Contents

Intro

Chapter 1: Getting Started

Chapter 2: Tools

Chapter 3: Building Your Car Body

Chapter 4: Weighting Your Car

Chapter 5: Painting and Finishing

Chapter 6: Wheel and Axel Prep

Chapter 7: Attaching the Wheels and Race Prep

Chapter 8: More Projects

Chapter 9: Patterns

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Good to get you going.

    It a good book for ideas and to get you going.

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