Hydro Dipping Pinewood Derby Cars

Pinewood Derby has been a significant learning process for us over the years. We’ve finally got basic shapes and understand the weights, but we’ve really got to get creative with our paint. This year, we decided to try a technique called hydro dip. When you have to cut, sand, paint, weigh, and assemble 3 cars each year, you’re looking for ways to streamline the process while also allowing each kid to be creative.

Hydro dip is when you spray a layer of oil-based spray paint on top of the water and then dip your item (pinewood derby car) into the paint. The result is a fun marbled paint effect left on the car.


Hydro Dip Process

  • After you have cut and sanded your pinewood derby car to your preferred design you can begin the hydro dip process.
  • Before you begin, you may want to apply a base coat of paint to your car because there may be a few spots where the paint misses.
  • After your base coat has dried, you can attach a dipping handle. (see the video below to see how we used two paint stirring sticks and a long screw to make a dipping stick and stand)
  • Fill your bucket/bin with warm water.
  • Layer multiple colors of paint generously on top of the water. The more paint, the better.
  • Dip your car into the paint/water in a spot with a lot of paint that might make a cool design.
  • Leave the car submerged in the water and take an extra paint stirrer to remove the paint on top of the water before you pull out your car. This prevents too much paint from getting on the car.
  • Open up the handy paint stand you made and let your car dry.
  • After the car feels dry you can apply a clear coat to protect your beautiful creation.

You can watch the entire process, what we did right, and what we could improve here…


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