Pinewood Derby Standard and Specialty Tools
Safety Gear - A Scout and Adult must always wear safety gear when performing certain tasks on the Pinewood Derby Car. Please do not allow younger scouts to work alone with sawing, cutting, drilling or painting on any type. These activities must be supervised by an adult. Adults, please set a good example by wearing protective gear, even during small tasks.
Below is a list of standard tools needed during the construction of most pinewood derby.
Wood Clamps - There are many different kinds of clamps available for woodworking. The building of a pinewood derby car is very difficult without one or two.
- The large bar-type clamp is goaod for holding the block in place while drilling or sawing.
- The small spring clamp (on top) is good for holding small pieces together while the glue is drying.
- The small bar-type clamp is good for holding the car still while shaping.
- The large and small clamp can be used effectively together to hold a car in place for filing. Use the large clamp to hold a narrow board onto the work surface, with the board extending over the edge. Then use the small clamp to hold your car to the board. This allows the car to be easily re-positioned for filing.
Sawing - The most versatile saw for pinewood derby blocks is the Coping Saw. The Coping Saw is designed for cutting curves in relatively thin material, so it is excellent for cutting the outline of a car body. The Coping Saw does not work as well for cutting a straight line in thick material, so it is good to have a more general purpose saw for making straight cuts.
Draw the cut line on each side of the car. Here are some general suggestions for sawing.
- Start the cut by making short gentle strokes. When the saw is firmly in the wood, take long even strokes.
- Go slow, and watch carefully to make sure the cut is staying in line. If the cut starts to wander, either back up and start again in the right direction, or start the cut from the opposite side.
- When cutting completely through a block of wood, place a scrap piece of wood tightly against the side of the block from which the saw blade will exit. This minimizes the amount of chipping at the saw exit point.
Drilling - For drilling Weight holes or Axle holes, here are some general tips:
- Pick a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the nail or tube weight.
- After drilling, if the hole is significantly too small, you cna always ream the hole slightly to make it larger. Always use a piece of test wood for you first hole(s) and test your axles or weights.
- Using a Clamp, secure the wood block in place. Do not attempt to drill with one hand while holding the block with the other.
- Drill straight down with the drill no higher than chest level. If needed stand on a step stool to get the needed height.
- Use steady, even pressure on the drill. Pushing too hard can result in deeper holes than desired.
- When drilling completely through the block, put a scrap piece of wood underneath the block. This will minimize chipping at the drill bit exit site.
Wood Files - Files are used to shape the wood after it has been rough cut with the Coping Saw. The file basically help to remove the rough cutting edges that were left behind by the saw. Here are some general tips:
- Files only cut on the push stroke, so use most of your energy pushing, not pulling.
- To keep the file working properly remove the sawdust from the file teeth occasionally.
- Use a flat file to shape flat surfaces and outward-curved surfaces. Use rounded wood files to shape inward-curved surfaces.
- A small triangular file can be useful in shaping the lines of complex car bodies.
Sand Paper Tips: Start with rough paper, and then progress to finer paper. A good progression is 60, 150, 220, and 400 grit paper.
- For sanding smooth flat surfaces, wrap the sandpaper sheet around a ruler or other small, straight block of wood.
- Sand back and forth in the direction of the wood grain. On the end of the car, sand in a circular motion.
- To sand inside a body hole or a small surface, use a piece of sandpaper taped to a small flat object (popsicle stick, small ruler, etc.).
- To sand inward curved surfaces, use a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a dowel rod (or piece of broomstick).
- Between coats of paint, lightly sand the car with 600 grit paper; 800 water sandpaper for the smoothest primed finish.
Glue Tips - Glue comes in several different types. Always use the proper glue for the job.
- Use "Carpenter’’s Glue" (yellow glue) or white glue when gluing wood to wood, and for repairing chips and cracks.
- Use epoxy when gluing non-wood parts to wood. For example, use epoxy for gluing lead weights to the car.
- Epoxy can be purchased with different drying times.
- The 30-minute variety is best when building the car, as it gives the builder time to make sure the parts are properly placed. However, the 5 minute variety is good when a glue job is needed at the weigh-in.
- Hot glue can be used to glue on attachments. Only use super glue for an emergency repair during a race.
A large selection of specialty tools are available on the market. These tools are sold through third party vendors. Some of these vendors have displays in your local Hobby or Crafts Shops, for instance, PineCar. Most all of these vendors are found on the internet. If you shop via Internet, please consider the usual precautions when using a credit/debt card online. Use of many of the racing tips, tools and parts available will disqualify the Grand Prix Pinewood Derby car if used. Always consider the District construction rules before purchasing a tool or considering speed tips.
Below are a few tools that I found interesting. Application of the tools below does should be in conformance with the construction rules. Use your web search engine to find these type of specialty tools.
Wheel Mandrel - A wheel mandrel is used to safely hold a wheel for placement in the chuck of a drill. The wheel can then be sanded and polished while spinning.
Axle-Hole Guide Tool - A Axle-to-Body tool is a drilling guide for creating axle holes, or for creating pilot holes in existing axle slots. This can improve the alignment of the car.
Axle Guide Tool - This tool helps ensure accurate mounting of axles. It also sets the proper gabe between the wheel hub and car body. The proper gap minimizes car wander and reduces excess contact between the body and wheels.
Wheel Shaver Tool - Helps round the outer tread of the wheels (without removing the wheel markings. It also trues the inside edge of the wheel by removing molding marks and excess material. (A mini-lathe)
Axle Press Tool - The Pro-Axle Press straightens and rounds the axle shafts on nail-type axles. It also squares the axle head to the axle shaft.
One should be able to find these special tools on an Internet search engine. There are many other tools available. Be sure not to choose a tool that may disqualify is used.