Home > How-To > Build > Cutting and Shaping the Car

Cutting and Shaping the Car

Tip: Waste Pieces: After cutting the profile view, fit the waste pieces and body back together and secure with masking tape. This simplifies the cutting of the top.

  1. Use a band saw to roughly shape the blank with axle holes already drilled:
    • Turn the blank on its side and cut out the profile view first.
    • Fit the waste pieces and working piece back together and secure them by wrapping two bands of masking tape around the assembly.
    • Set the blank assembly upright and cut out the top view.
  2. Smooth the corners of your car body. Use a bench-mounted sander, sharp knife, wood rasp, files, or rough sandpaper (80 grit) to smooth the car to its basic rounded shape.
  3. Periodically check your car against the spec sheet (especially weight) to make sure the car is still within tolerances. When weighing your car, put the wheels, axles, washers, screw eyes, and any other necessary hardware on the scale along with the body to get a more accurate finish weight.

    Note: Keep in mind that even the paint finish will affect the weight slightly. Even humidity levels can affect the weight of a body blank.
  4. If your design calls for a hollowed-out body, a high-speed rotary multi-tool works nicely. A variety of milling and sanding bits are helpful for making cavities in the car body. Whenever using power tools to shape the car body, go slowly and cautiously. It’s very easy to remove too much wood and ruin your car!

Fine-Shaping Your Car Body

Tip: Haste Makes Waste: Take time and care when using power tools to shape your car body. With soft balsa wood, it’s very easy to remove more material than you intended.

At this point, your car has assumed its basic shape. Now, you’re at the stage that separates the fine cars from the mediocre cars. Extra time and effort spent during the fine-shaping, or pre-painting, stage have a huge payoff in the curbside appeal of the final product.

Use sandpaper to remove unwanted bumps and irregularities from the body. Use progressively finer-grit paper as you go. For example, you might start with 80-grit paper (very coarse, removes a lot of material) and progress to 220-grit paper (fine paper for smoothing surfaces).

Check your car for symmetry and sand the body as needed. Also, exposing your car to bright light can help reveal imperfections that need attention.

Related Items

Options Available
From $3.15
Options Available
From $2.65