If you’re planning on helping your son (or friend’s son, etc.) build a Pinewood Derby car for competition this year, you have two choices:
- You can build yet another wedge-shaped car that’s as heavy as possible.
- You can pick up this book, read it, and build a car that’ll not only go like hell, but’ll also look so sweet that everyone (whose asses your car smokes) will claim you cheated afterwards.
Guess which one I’d choose? Read on past the jump for a detailed review of this must-have book.
About The Author
Pinewood Derby Designs & Patterns was authored by Troy Thorne — a multi-talented guy who just happens to have exactly the skill set required to produce the ultimate ‘Derby guide. He’s an artist. He’s an avid woodworker and carver. And he’s in the process of finishing up his first full car build: an AC Cobra replica with plenty of go-power.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that the designs he presents in this book are anything but ordinary. Ranging from a Superbird-knockoff stocker to a modern NASCAR ride to a Willys Jeep, these designs are sure to attract attention at the meet. In fact, they’re so beautiful that when you first crack the book, you’ll wonder whether you and your child can build them.
In short: you absolutely can. Troy not only provides great designs, he also offers great pictoral descriptions of the carving process — plus lots of easy-to-understand instructions to help you fill, paint, and finish your car to look just as awesome as those you see in the book. With Troy’s book and a little time and patience, there’s no reason you can’t achieve similar results.
Troy doesn’t skimp on the speed, either. The book includes a whole section on maximizing your car’s performance potential, packed with tips such as how to polish wheels and wheel mount hardware with common, inexpensive tools and how to properly maximize your car’s weight during weigh-in.
Best of all, Troy writes from the perspective of a Toolmonger parent wishing to share the shop experience with a child via the ‘Derby — not an overly-competitive dad hell-bent on winning. In each part of the book he recommends methods of working together on the car, and offers what I think is one of the best pieces of ‘Derby advice I’ve heard:
Last but not least, let your child weigh-in his car. At most weigh-ins, parents line up to place their “child’s” car on the scale, but it’s better to let your child place his own car on the scale. If you use the method for adding extra weight, practice with your child at home. Put your scale on the table and have your child carefully place the car on the scale — upside down so it won’t roll off — and then add small weights to the scale until it reads 5.0 ounces. That way, when you show up at weigh-in, your child will know exactly what to do.
I also love how this book keeps safety in mind. Remember how worried you were that your child might ingest tiny amounds of lead-based paint from sucking on a toy train? Maybe you don’t want to melt lead sinkers with a torch to pour an ingot for the bottom of your car. Troy covers this and other ‘Derby car building safety caveats. Build safe!
Finally, all of us at Toolmonger approve of Troy’s dedication to building legal cars. No matter how cool your ‘Derby ride ends up, if you break the rules, you’re missing the point. Troy covers all applicable rules — and shows you how to build killer winning cars without cheating.
Read on to page two for our summary.
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