– Shop Talk – The Best Pinewood Derby Rule
– Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
Shop Talk: The Best Pinewood Derby Rule
By Randy Davis
Although you can get away with using a cheap plastic ruler for an occasional pinewood derby car, having a nice, accurate rule (not ruler) is a must for any serious craftsman. But like any tool, there is a large variety of rules available on the market. Today, I want to share with you my favorite rule. In my opinion, this rule is a must have for pinewood derby enthusiasts.
The rule I am referring to is the Incra Six Inch Precision Bend Rule. Although this rule wasn’t specifically designed for pinewood derby use, I have to believe that the designer was a pinewood derby parent.
Photo 1 – Incra Six Inch Bend RuleThe obvious feature of the Incra Bend Rule is the shape. The rule is specifically designed to fit over the edge of a block or board in order to make precise measurement with ease. The rule is marked in 1/32 inch increments, and at each increment is a hole and a slot that allows insertion of a 5mm pencil (standard mechanical pencil size). These holes and slots eliminate the inaccuracy that comes with trying to make a pencil mark along the side of a regular ruler.
Photo 2 – Making a Measurement
This feature in itself makes this a nice tool, but there’s more. On one end of the Incra Bend Rule you will find measurements that are perpendicular to the rule. These are used to mark offsets from the edge of a block. For pinewood derby cars, the obvious use is marking axle locations, weight hole positions, car thickness, etc.
Photo 3 – Marking a 1/8 inch Offset for Axle Holes
But this offset measurement feature is not just to make a tiny dot, but it can also be used for drawing horizontal lines. Just insert the pencil at the desired location, and slide the rule along the edge of the block. Sweet!
Photo 4 – Drawing a Horizontal Line
Now the “pièce de résistance”. Do you want to locate the center of your block? One half of the Incra Bend Rule is 3/4 inch wide, while the other is 7/8 inch wide. 7/8 inch is a familiar number – it is one-half of the width of a standard block. So to find the center of a block, lay the rule with the wide portion on the top or bottom of the block, and strike a line. Since blocks are not consistent, put the rule on the other side, and draw another line. “Voilà!” The center of the block will be between the two lines (or coincident with the two lines if the block is exactly 1-3/4 inches wide).
Photos 5 & 6 – Finding the Center of the Block
I am confident that you will enjoy this rule as much as I do.
Never trust a dog to watch your food.
Patrick, Age 10
When you want something expensive, ask your grandparents.
Matthew, Age 12
Never smart off to a teacher whose eyes and ears are twitching.
Andrew, Age 9
Wear a hat when feeding sea gulls.
Rocky, Age 9
Sleep in your clothes so you’ll be dressed in the morning.
Stephanie, Age 8
Never try to hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
Rosemary, Age 7
Don’t flush the john when your dad’s in the shower.
Lamar, Age 10
Never ask for anything that costs more than five dollars when your parents are doing taxes.
Carrol, Age 9
Never bug a pregnant mom.
Nicholas, Age 11
Don’t ever be too full for dessert.
Kelly, Age 10
When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him.
Heather, Age 16
Never tell your mom her diet is not working.
Michael, Age 14
Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.
Joel, Age 12
When you get a bad grade in school, show it to your mom when she’s on the phone.
Alyesha, Age 13
Never try to baptize a cat.
Laura, Age 13
Never do pranks at a police station.
Sam, Age 10
Beware of cafeteria food when it looks like it’s moving.
Rob, Age 10
Never tell your little brother that you’re not going to do what your mom told you to do.
Hank, Age 12
Remember you’re never too old to hold your father’s hand.
Molly, Age 12
Stay away from prunes.
Randy, Age 9
Never dare your little brother to paint the family car.
Phillip, Age 13
Listen to your brain. It has lots of information.
Chelsey, Age 7
Pinewood Derby Car Showcase
Smaug – Holt Family
Smaug was raced at our local race. It is made from light-weight modeling clay.
Stanley 220 Block Plane – Dennis Bjorn
I built this car 16 years ago out of pallet wood that held granite blocks from India. My weights are hidden under the lever cap. The blade adjuster on the back is from a Stanley block plane.
What is the best type of paint to use on a pinewood derby car? I am looking for something quick drying and not tacky feeling.
I use “Duplicolor – Perfect Match”. It is a lacquer paint for autos. You can find it at any auto parts store (AutoZone, etc). Avoid enamel paint, as it is slow drying and has a tacky feel.
If you want to brush paint, use Acrylic paints which are available at any hobby or craft store, and on our web site. Acrylic paints clean up with water or alcohol, depending on the type.
Is there any way you guys could precision drill the block I bought to accommodate the needle axles?
We do not custom drill for needle axles. But instead, we offer a Needle Axle Upgrade Kit (part 4049)
These upgraded axles install into blocks with regular axle holes or slots, and step down to fit the needle axle wheels. Retaining beads are provided to hold the wheels in place. An insertion tool is provided for installing the axles. This is a much better solution than using the needle axles that come with the wheels.
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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times
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