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You are working away on your pinewood derby car, when suddenly the wood block splits in two pieces. What do you do?

Below you will find the answer to this, and many other situations where you say 'whoops!'

If you have a Whoops! but don't find the answer here, please send us an e-mail and we will try to answer your question and post the answer here.

The Block Splits

If the block is still in one piece:

  • Open up the crack by inserting the tip of a small flat blade screwdriver into the crack.
  • Put white glue or yellow Carpenter's glue into the crack.
  • Use a toothpick or something similar to spread the glue in the crack.
  • Remove the screwdriver and clamp the block.
  • If you don't have a clamp, wind masking tape tightly around the block.
  • Wipe off any excess glue, then allow the glue to dry.

    If the block is in two pieces that fit well together:

  • Spread white or yellow glue over the entire broken area.
  • Put the two pieces back together.
  • Clamp or tape, wipe off any excess glue, then allow the glue to dry.

    If the block does not fit well together, then the best bet is to start again with a new block.

    A Chip Breaks off the Block/Car

    If the chip fits nicely into place:

  • Glue the chip in place with white or yellow glue.
  • Use masking tape to hold the chip in place.
  • Wipe off excess glue, then allow the glue to dry.
  • Sand the repaired area after the glue dries.

    If the chip is small and does not fit nicely into place:

  • Use wood putty to patch the hole.
  • After drying, sand the patched area.

    If the chip is large and does not fit nicely into place:

  • Find a piece of pine or balsa wood and carve it with an exacto knife to fit roughly into place.
  • Glue it in place with white or yellow glue.
  • Sand the area
  • Use wood putty to fill in any gaps.

    A Hole is Drilled in the Wrong Place

    If the hole is 1/8 inch in diameter or larger:

  • Buy a proper sized dowel rod at the local hardware or craft store.
  • Put a small amount of white or yellow Carpenter's glue into the hole.
  • Insert the dowel rod.
  • Cut off the excess dowel rod, leaving an 1/8 inch sticking outside the hole.
  • After the glue dries, trim down the dowel rod with a fine toothed saw (a hacksaw works).
  • Sand the patched area.

    If the hole is less than 1/8 inch in diameter, glue one or two toothpicks into the hole, and then patch the spot with wood putty.

    A Saw Cut is Made in the Wrong Place

    If the saw cut was barely started before the error was discovered, then the cut can generally be removed by rounding the area with sandpaper, or by patching the cut with wood putty.

    If the saw cut is significant, but does not go all the way through the wood, then the choice is between starting again with a new block, or including the saw cut into the design. For example, if the cut is made such that a mirror cut could be made on the opposite side, then the cut could be a design feature. Note how the saw cuts on the rear of this car represent the feathers of an arrow.

    If the saw cut goes completely through the car, then the design must be modified or the process must be started again with a new block. When deciding if the design can be modified, please note that:

  • Cars less than 7 inch long generally run slower than cars of the maximum length.
  • If the car's profile is reduced, then additional weight must to be added to compensate for the removed wood.

    The Car is Dented

    If an edge or face of an unpainted car is dented deeply, some wood putty can be used to fill the dent. However, if the dent is shallow, it is oftentimes better to remove the dent by swelling the wood fibers with water.

  • Use a pin to poke several shallow holes in the dent area.
  • Apply a few drops of water on the dent area, and allow the water to partially dry.
  • If the wood does not swell enough, repeat the treatment one time.
  • Allow the wood to dry thoroughly (you may want to use a hair dryer), then sand the affected area.

    The Paint Runs on a Visible Part of the Car

  • If you plan on applying additional coats of paint, allow the run to dry and then sand it off.
  • If you have finished painting, then cover the run with a nice decal or sticker. Decals are great for hiding flaws!
  • 2011 by Randy Davis
    Updated April 1, 2011