EASY Pinewood Derby Car WINS using Science!!!

How to Make a Pinewood Derby Racing Car


Sample Car Designs

Making Your Own Pinewood Derby Racing Car

  1. Design your car.Sketch on a piece of paper the size of your block of wood. Some ideas are above, but pretty much any shape will do.
    • The fastest cars look like a wedge, with the front narrow.
    • If you or someone who will help you is very good at cutting wood, you can do something fancy (like a hot dog or a car with windows.) If its your first time, you may want to do something simple.
  2. Get your supplies.There are plenty of kits available, but the pine wood and nails can come from any hardware store. You will probably need to buy the wheels from a hobby store, because many races require a certain size of wheel. See below for the list of supplies.
  3. Decide if you will cut your pine wood block yourself, or if you will ask someone.If you will do it yourself, get a coping saw and a clamp. Many scoutmasters or hardware stores will cut the wood for you if you ask.
  4. Use your drawing to trace the design of the car onto the block of wood.
  5. Cut the wood, or ask someone to cut it for you.
  6. Sand the car.Sanding makes the paint stick better, and also makes the car go faster. You can use 120 grit sandpaper to start.
  7. Paint the car with the a paintbrush or with spray paint, making a thin coat.
    • Many thin coats are better than 1 thick coat, as it has less chance to run or drip and spoil the looks of the car.
    • Let the car dry between coats, and sand after the paint has dried.
    • The final sanding should use 200 grit sandpaper.
    • After sanding, you can attach whatever decals or lettering you might want.
  8. Put on the wheels.Put the wheel on the nail axle and put it on your car, maybe tapping lightly with a hammer. Some races allow graphite lubricant on the axle.
  9. Weigh your car.The weight limit is 5oz(141g.) If it's over weight, drill some out. If it's under, you can attach some weights.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Where do I put weight on the car?
    Community Answer
    The weight can normally go wherever you want. Most people choose to screw it to the bottom so that they can be free to decorate the top, but it's perfectly fine to put it elsewhere.
  • Question
    How would someone get the stuff to make a derby car if they did not have money?
    Community Answer
    The official kit, (which most competitions require) costs . This gives you everything you need to make your car, other than tools. Frankly, if you can't afford to buy the .00 kit, your chances of getting everything to make the car are pretty much zilch, particularly if you wish to meet competition standards. It's just too major of an undertaking to find working replacements for all of the parts.
Unanswered Questions
  • Can we use any kinds of wood?
  • How can we get the color on the car?
  • How a make a simple wooden car for science fair?
  • Can I use another type of wood instead of pine?
  • Where do I get the wheels for this car?
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Design Tips to Make a Fast Car

  1. One of the fastest and simplest car shapes is a wedge (like a doorstop). Make it as thin as possible, and locate all add-on weight in the back end of the car.
  2. Make the wheelbase as long as possible. The idea is to make the car have the highest amount of potential energy by getting as much of the car's weight as high up on the track as possible. Very small gains in that area result in stronger acceleration and ultimately the difference between winning and losing.
  3. Friction is your enemy! Polish the nails used for axles, use graphite lubrication, and check out the special wheels offered for pinewood cars. The company that sells the kit makes wheels that have a groove cut out of the middle of the tread, and wheels that have a pointy ridge around the middle of the tread.
  4. Ask your Scoutmaster before deciding on nonstandard wheels, you don't want to have a problem because he may have never seen them before.
  • If you buy oval shaped fishing weights, you can paint them to look like heads and nail one or two to the car as a driver and passenger. Then, if on race day, you find that the official scale reads differently than yours, and your car is over weight, simply take off a head (or bring extras to put on if your car is under weight).
  • For sanding, try getting sandpaper that get finer and finer until you are sanding with the finest one. This will give the car a nice finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Block of wood
  • 4 plastic wheels
  • 4 nails for axles
  • These first three items are included with the BSA Pinewood Derby Racer kit. You don't have to use the included wood block, but check your Pack rules before using some other axles and/or wheels. Most rulebooks require that you use wheels and axles from an official BSA kit.
  • Hand saw(s). Usually people use a "coping saw." Adults must operate any power tools!
  • Sandpaper (several grades from 60 to 300 grit)
  • Sanding sealer (from an auto parts store)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint (spray paints from a hobby supply store)
  • Balsa wood for fin(s), if you like.
  • Weights! The basic kit will weigh about half of the 5 oz. limit, and you want to build the heaviest car that the rules will allow! Lead-free fishing weights can be tucked into drilled holes, for instance, and puttied over so they don't spoil the appearance of you car.
  • The use of a good digital scale. If you smile sweetly and ask politely you local Post Office will weigh your car, so you can find out ahead of the race whether or not you've got the weight right.

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