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Use a rasp to shape your Pinewood Derby car. It's as easy as ABC! 

Example of pinewood car

How to Use a Rasp to Shape Your Pinewood Derby Car

Rasps look a lot like files but are rougher and are made for removing wood.
Rasps come in several shapes including round, half round, and flat.

Rasps for building Pinewood Derby cars

You might not even need a saw with many Pinewood Derby car designs. Use a rasp to shape the car if no deep cuts are needed. Rasps leave gouges in the wood so you will need to use sandpaper to smooth the wood when you are done with the rasp.

What kind of rasp should you get? All three types have their uses.

A flat rasp can be used to
create a variety of notches.

It is also good at
rounding corners.

The half round rasp can
make smooth grooves.

Rounded notches and other detail
work is for the round rasp


To use a rasp, hold the handle with one hand and the other end of the rasp with your other hand. Rasps do most of their cutting during the forward motion and need only a small amount of downward pressure.

General tips:

  • Secure the car block to a bench or other surface with clamps before shaping it with a rasp.
  • Keep in mind that most of the wood should be removed during the push. When you are close to finishing, use only pull strokes to remove less wood and fine tune the shape.
  • You may find it helpful if you hold the tip of the rasp with your other hand to help guide the rasp and control the amount of pressure on the wood.
  • If you can, change the angle of the rasp slightly during each stroke.
  • Remove the sawdust from the rasp often with a brush. Also, blow or wipe the sawdust off of the block so that you can see your progress.
  • Put handles on your rasps. They will be a lot more comfortable to use and easier to control.
  • Lighten up on the pressure when you are almost done so that you make smaller grooves in the wood. This will make sanding your Pinewood Derby car a lot easier.
  • A flat metal file is a great tool to use after the rasp to smooth the wood.

by Dave Murry

Rasps can be purchased here

We have other tools designed to make building a pinewood derby car easier.

Visit our home page for all of our pinewood derby products.