Ten Steps to a Successful Pinewood Derby

STEP 7: Workshop

Organize a workshop to assist those who have never constructed a car, or who might not have the tools or skills to build the car at home. The workshop can be held at a Pack or Den meeting place, or at someones home. Have the tools and materials ready to show and use. It might be helpful to have example cars at various stages of construction.

Tools for the workshop should include coping saws or a jig saw, a hand electric drill, a bench or table, chisels, hammers, hot glue gun, glue sticks, sanding blocks, rasps (wood files), pliers, scredrivers, punch, and a board to pound on. Materials should include sandpaper, paint, sealer, wax, buffing cloth, weights, hand cleaner and paper towels.

  • Show a basic car design on paper. Show how to put the lines on the block of wood, either by tracing or using carbon paper. Demonstrate how to make the initial cuts with a coping saw or jig saw. Adults can help with power tools at this stage.
  • Demonstrate detailed shaping. Instead of using a knife, encourage the use of a wood rasp with both fine and coarse teeth.
  • Drill and/or chisel out a hole in the block of wood for wieght to be added. You will need a bench vise, drill and bits, and possible extension cords. Weights can be purchased at the Scout Center, from hobby stores, or you can use lead fishing sinkers, plumbing solder, or other metal wieghts.
  • Weigh the car components (wood block, axles, and wheels) along with the weights. Don't forget to allow for the glue, sealer, paint, and wax coats to come later.
  • After the weights are put in the holes, conceal them with plastic wood.
  • Sand the car with fine sandpaper. A sanding block could be helpful. Encourage the Scouts to do lots of sanding to get a good finish on their car.
  • Apply a coat of sanding sealer and two coats of paint to the wood. Add stripes, decals, or any detailing. Apply an overcoat of either clear lacquer or wax and buff.
  • Wheels can be sanded to remove burrs or imperfections, but the treads must be left flat. Put the wheel in the chuck of a drill, and sand it lightly with a sanding block. The axles can also be sanded lightly to remove burrs.
  • Insert the axles (nails) through the wheels and into the grooves in the car body. Cars with crooked wheels don't race too well, so make sure they're straight, and apply a little hot glue to keep them in place.
  • Squirt some graphite into the wheels at the axle. Spin off the excess onto newspaper. Graphite is pretty messy, but it makes the cars roll much better. You can obtain graphite from the Scout Center or hobby shops.

The cars are now ready to race.

Back to Step 6
Ahead to Step 8
Up to Pinewood Derby

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