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How to use the old water slip style decales on a pinewood derby car. It's as easy as ABC! 

Example of pinewood car

>How to add decals to your Pinewood Derby CarHow to add decals to your Pinewood Derby Car

Decals are an easy way to make your Pinewood Derby car look good. Most new decals are of the dry transfer type. They are very easy to use, just cut them out, peel them off then stick them on the car. The older wet slide decals can be a little tricky but you will find that it is quite easy once you've had a little practice.  This page gives you hints for using the old wet style decals.

It is a good idea to practice first. Apply a decal or two to a toy or other smooth surface before you start adding decals to your car. Use parts of your decal that you won't be needing for the car when practicing.

Decals are best applied to a flat surface but they can be used on curves and outside corners. It is very difficult to apply a decal to an inside corner. You can get around this by cutting the decal into two pieces then apply each piece separately.


Before you start, you should have a scissors, a small paintbrush for moving the decal around, a sharp hobby or X-acto knife, tweezers, a paper towel and some Kleenex.

  1. Your Pinewood Derby car should be very smooth for the decal to grip properly so give your car a good coat of paint. Wait until the paint has dried for at least 24 hours then spray on a coat of Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic or other clear protective coating. Your car must also be clean and free of dust, oil and dirt.
  2. Use a scissors to cut the decals from the sheet. Then trim around each decal as carefully as possible to minimize the clear carrier around each decal. From this point on, your fingers should not touch the decal.
  3. Lift one of the decals with a pair of tweezers. Submerge the decal for about 30 seconds in a cup of room temperature water (use a pie pan for larger decals).
  4. Place the decal on a paper towel. You will know the decal is ready to use when you can move it on its paper backing with the tip of your hobby knife. After you have some practice, you will want to dip several decals in water and place them on the paper towel to soak to speed up the job.
  5. When the decal is ready, pick it up with the tweezers and hold the decal and the paper backing over the exact spot where you want the decal. Hold the decal in place with the point of your hobby knife while you pull the tweezers away. If you squeeze the tweezers with just the right amount of pressure, they will slide off the decal but grip the paper backing.
  6. Wrap one or two layers of a piece of white Kleenex around your index finger and gently dab the decal to force it down against the surface of your car. If the decal covers a large area, start to dab and press it into place in the center and, using a rolling/dabbing motion with your Kleenex-wrapped finger, squeeze the air bubbles from beneath the decal while you press it down.
  7. It is hard to move a decal once it is on the car and you run the risk of tearing it but if you are careful, you can move it a little with the paint brush. To move the decal more, you can press a piece of masking tape or scotch tape over the decal and you should be able to pull the tape and the decal from the block. Wet the decal and re-apply it.
  8. Gently wipe off excess water from your car.
  9. Do not touch the decal until it has completely dried.
  10. You can apply more decals to the rest of the car but if you want to apply a decal over another decal, let the first decal dry for at least 3 hours.
  11. Spray your Pinewood Derby car with a coat or two of the clear protective coating after the decals have dried for at least 24 hours.
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