Hi DIYers. This is my first instructable, and I only realized about halfway through that I could use this project to make one, so my photos aren't the best.
This is a simple Hot wheel/matchbox car track I made out of some wood scraps for my son who has recently started to show an interest in them. We really wanted to make our own track, but weren't happy with the cardboard versions we made. Being one that likes to take a simple thing and really dig in, inspiration hit while cleaning out my garage.
There are more ways to do this than my method, see the end of the instructable for some of my ideas on how to do this differently, improve it, and expand it. Comments and new ideas are always welcome!
The total time for me to make four tracks was under an hour.
Step 1: Tools, Materials, and Safety
Tools and materials
*I used strips from shelves we made. Each piece was 1.5" wide and 4' long. The cars are 1.25" wide, so the wood must be wide enough for the cars to fit inside the lanes. The number of pieces you need depends on how many tracks you want to make. I made four tracks on four separate pieces.
Please make sure you wear safety googles and are familiar with using a table saw and chisel. It's all to easy to hurt yourself using these tools. Be smart.
Step 2: Scoring the Wood
I used my table saw to score the wood. Because my wood strips were so close in width to the cars, I had to have very thin walls on the car lanes. I measured (twice) and set my table saw fence to 1/8" from the blade. Raise the saw blade so it is about half the width of the wood (I felt that having a nice thick base would keep the tracks sturdy and prevent them from flexing and breaking).
Score the wood, then flip it over and score the other side. Repeat for each track.
After running each track through the table saw on both sides (Would should now have two scores on the top, one on each side of it, sorry for no pictures on this step in particular), Move the fence another 1/8" from the blade and repeat. Do this until you have scored out most of the interior.
Step 3: Smothing Out the Track
After Scoring the wood I had thin strips running down what is to become the track. Put the tracks into a vice to hold them steady. Using the chisel, carefully scraped all of these off. They came nice and easy in big chunks because they were so thin. I had a couple of stubborn spots where there were knots in the wood. If you have any of these use the hammer to carefully chisel them out.
*Be careful. If you angle your chisel too much into the wood you will damage it and the track won't be smooth. I did this a few times, you can see it in the pictures of the finished project*
After removing all of the strips, use the chisel to smooth out the track.
Run through the track with some medium grit sandpaper to make it even smoother. This step is optional, but helps it look more finished, and if you don't you may end with certain tracks where the cars move a little quicker (less friction)
Again, repeat for each track.
Step 4: Finished
Check that your track is wide enough. If you need to make them a little wider carefully measure how much more of the track walls you can remove and use the table saw to do so.
Place your tracks side by side, prop one end of the tracks up, and start your race!
Step 5: Improvements and Expansions
If (when) I do this again, I would probably use a router table. It moves a little slower but creates a smoother finish and gets rid of the need for the chisel.
I like to find a way to connect the tracks end to end and make one longer track (again probably using a router).
I would also try using a wider piece of wood to make multiple tracks on one board.
Thought about glueing some veneer in the track so the "road" surface is smooth without sanding.
My son loves them. He also uses them for hex-bug nano races.
Thank you so much for reading! Share thoughts and pictures and let me know how yours turn out!