Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – August 31, 2017

Sheriff Cruiser – Matt Penza

The fastest car in our race was my sheriff’s car. This is the exact car that I use on duty. Well a replica. I took photos of my sheriff’s car and downloaded them onto the computer. After sizing the photos I made stickers out of them. The antennas are also the same on the real sheriff’s car. As you can see I added a light bar after modifying it, a spotlight, and a push bar. This car weighed exactly 5 ounces. With your Awana Speed Wheels and axles, this car set a track record!!!

Swimming Pool – David Kenison

My son, who just crossed over to Boy Scouts, decided to make his last pinewood derby car to look like a swimming pool. He is on a swim team and last year he made an Award Car and the previous year was a Swimming Car. So it seemed appropriate to make a pool this year.

Jedi’s Nightmare – Rodney Earp

Here is my son’s 2012 car. It was designed, built and painted by him. It won 1st in the pack and 21st in the district. We found out that a pointed front end works okay if the track sensors are tabs. But at the district race, sensor lights were used. I have video showing the car not tripping the sensor till somewhere around the front wheel area.(1) So, consider having a wider front end when you design a car next year. Oh, by the way, my son uses the Storm Trooper each year on his car. The Storm Trooper has done quite well using your lube, and other stuff from your site. Thanks for all you do for pinewood derby racing!

(1)For more information on this issue, please see: Volume 7, Issue 12 – “Is Your Finish Line Providing Accurate Results”

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 3
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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – August 24, 2017

Black Beauties – Patrick Roos

This is my son Seth’s first car as a Tiger. His three older brothers have each won Grand Champion in our pack, and two of them are past District Grand Champions, so he has a goal of being the first of our family to win the Council championship. He easily won the Pack and District Championship and is headed to the Council in a couple months. The only car that was close to him was…

Athan’s car, which was built by Athanasius, son of a family friend. Dad has to work out of town a lot, so on his evenings at home, they came over to my garage and I helped them build his first car as a Webelo. The car took 2nd place behind Seth in Pack and District.

McLaren – Scott & James Bowie, England

Just wanted to drop a line from England to say that my son James (8) and I built his pinewood McLaren based on your Formula 1 plan and with a nod to Lewis Hamilton’s MP4-26. We managed to secure the fastest car and star car awards at his local cub scout pack’s first pinewood derby. A great time was had by all and I think this will become an annual event. Thanks for a great site with some winning hints and tips.

AAA – Stephen Basham

The Boy Scout Lincoln Heritage Council covers parts of Indiana and Kentucky with 8 Districts. This year (2012) they decided to have 4 District Level Pinewood Derby races to cover the complete Council area. Any Cub Scout in the Lincoln Heritage Council could compete in any one or all four of the district level races.

Stephen Basham won First Place overall at two of the four district level races. Could this be the first time a Cub Scout has won the First Place Overall District Level Trophy two times in the same year? Even though Stephen’s Pinewood Derby car bears the AAA road side assistance program logo, the car did not require any help at the races. (Submitted by Jim White)

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 2
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Shop Talk: Choose the Right Band Saw for Pinewood Derby Cars

Several years ago, I was asked for a recommendation on purchasing a power saw for pinewood derby car work. The person was thinking of purchasing a scroll saw, which is a saw with a fine blade that moves up and down, and is intended for detailed scroll work (see Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1 – Scroll Saw
(Photo source:

Figure 2 – Scroll Work
(Photo source:

But, while a scroll saw can be used for pinewood derby work, I prefer to use a “band saw”. A band saw uses a wider blade, formed into a large band, which cuts through the 1-3/4 inch pine block with relative ease. Although it cannot create the level of detail of a scroll saw, a band saw is more versatile.

The rest of this article will focus on band saws, but before that, you should be aware of the following:

  • A scroll saw is generally safer to use than a band saw. Since a band saw cuts more aggressively, it can do more damage to fingers. But both saws must be used with care, and improper use can result in injuries on both tools
  • A band saw cuts more quickly than a scroll saw and a band saw can handle larger material. But it cannot perform intricate cutting like a scroll saw.
  • A band saw can be equipped with a fence which allows greater accuracy for making straight cuts.
  • If set up improperly, a band saw will not cut as cleanly and accurately as it should. So make sure to set up the tool properly. Instructions can usually be found in the owner’s manual, but I do plan to write on an article on this topic in a future newsletter.
  • When using a band saw, always wear safety glasses, tie up long hair, remove any loose jewelry, and avoid loose-fitting clothes.

Band Saw Size
The first decision to be made is the size of the machine. Band saws are measured by the diameter of the two wheels that propel and guide the blade. Typical sizes are 9 inches for a bench top model, and 12 or 14 inches for a table mounted model.

Figure 3 – Inside a Band Saw – 12 inch Table Mounted

Generally, a larger machine provides more power and can accept larger width blades. But for casual pinewood derby work, a smaller machine is fine. Just don’t get a real cheap tool. As with any tool, a cheap tool will break more quickly and doesn’t provide as much accuracy.

For example, Sears offers a 9 inch model for just over $100. It will take up to a 3/8 inch blade, and has an optional fence. A step up is a 12 inch from Jet (Figure 3), which accepts up to a 1/2 inch blade.

Figure 4 – Sears Band Saw
(Photo source:

Blade Size
The width of the blade affects the cutting speed and the diameter of the curves that can be cut. A narrower blade allows tighter turns and more intricate cuts, but speed is sacrificed (narrow blades have more flex, so cutting speed must be reduced). Wider blades do not allow tight turns, but increase cutting speed. Generally, if you plan to mostly make straight cuts, or cuts that have only moderate turns, then use a 3/8 or 1/2 inch blade. But if you want to make more intricate cuts, then use a 1/4 inch blade.

Blade Teeth
Band saw blades have different teeth configurations including the number of teeth per inch, and teeth style. The number of teeth per inch (TPI) affects the smoothness of the cut and the cutting speed. Fewer teeth per inch gives a greater cutting speed, but a rougher cut, while more teeth per inch gives a smooth cut, but slower speed. I generally use a 4 TPI blade, which seems to work well on pine blocks.

Blades are available with Regular, Skip, and Hook Teeth. Regular teeth provide a smoother cut, but work best on thin material. For pine blocks, Skip Teeth blades work better.

Blades also have a “Set”. This specifies the way the blade teeth alternate. Either “Raker” or “Alternate” sets work fine for pine blocks.

Figure 5 – Blade Configuration
(Photo source:

Band Saw Features
Band saws come with several optional features that affect the performance of the machine.

Guide Bearing Wheels versus Guide Blocks
Better machines come with metal wheels with bearings to guide the blade, while less expensive machines use guide blocks (see Figure 6).

Figure 6 – Guide Bearing Wheels (top) vs. Guide Blocks (bottom)
(Photo source: and

Either guide system will work, but the guide blocks wear down, so they must be adjusted on a regular basis, and will need to be replaced at some point.

Blade Quick Release
Some machines come with a quick release for the blade. This handy feature speeds up the blade changing process. If you plan to stick with one blade type, then it isn’t really needed, but if you switch between multiple blades, it is a time saver.

Dust Collection Port
Most band saws are equipped with a dust collection port. Attaching a dust collector (or shop vacuum) will greatly reduce dust in the air, which is better for you and for your shop. Smaller machines generally have smaller ports which can readily be adapted to a shop vacuum, while larger machines have larger ports, which are intended for use with a dust collector.

Light and Air Blower
Other band saw features are a work light (make sure to use an appliance bulb), and an air blower. The air blower directs a stream of air onto the cut to keep dust from building up on the surface.

There are many choices to be made when shopping for a band saw. If you only intend to use the machine for pinewood derby work (and maybe a few small projects), then a small machine with a few features will certainly work. But if you plan to use the band saw on a more regular basis, step up to a larger machine with more features.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 2
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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – August 9, 2017

The Elf – Robert Allen

We made this for my son’s first race in Tiger Cubs. I researched for about two weeks on designs and what we could do to make the car go faster. Then I drew up three different cars, and he picked out which one he liked best and we made it. We used standard fender washers held in by wood putty for the weight. The wheels and axles are standard BSA wheels that come with every kit; only lightly sanded to remove any imperfections and lubed with graphite. Anywhere the wheel might even come in close contact with the body was graphited. The custom artwork – an elf hiding behind a Christmas tree – was done by my son. I did the power tool work, which wasn’t much since I only used a Dremel tool. All the sanding was done by hand and done by my son. Oh yeah we won The All City championship in York, PA. Not bad for his first scouting event.

Ahoy Matey – Quinn & Grant Masek

The black car is The Racer and is the first car my son (Quinn) and I built since joining cub scouts. I followed your plans but really didn’t do a good job on the axle alignment. He got first in the pack but 40th at the Scout-O-Rama.

My younger son (Grant) told me he wanted to build a yellow car to look like the one on the BSA box. I used your speed tips for weight, balance and axle prep. Again, we have room to improve on the axles (we weren’t doing rail riding yet), but he still got first in the siblings division.

Flying Wedge & Jeep – Ethan & Dominic Patterson

This is my son, Ethan’s, first Pinewood Derby Car. It took first place in all races to take first place overall in the Pack.

The apple of everyone’s eye, the candy apple red jeep stole the show in the adult division on just looks alone!

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 12, Issue 1
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Pinewood Derby Car Showcase – August 3, 2017

Fireball – Ed Mujica

I got the idea for this car from the cartoon “Wacky Racers.” Peter Perfect drives the Turbo Terrific and it looks a little like the car I built. I didn’t race the car this year, but it still was pretty fast. I wanted to let you know that you’re a good teacher! We put these dry transfer decals on the car and it turned out great. We like these much more than stickers. My son was very pleased with the way the car turned out.

Cub Cadet Lawnmower – Mike Webb

This lawnmower derby car was built for a Case IH dealer who I used to work for. It was used in a business race that is held during the cub scout derby. The hood and mower deck are made of balsa wood. The steering wheel is actually a BSA wheel that I cut the tread off and used an axle to hold it. The seat is a small piece of scrap pine from the car, as are the fenders. The hood has a small hinge on the front of it from the hardware store and the motor was from a derby accessory kit that I had. The logos were made from ink jet decals. It weighs exactly 5 ounces. The mower actually took 2nd place in the races and was very popular because of the unusual design.

1960 Indy Car – Doug Henthorn

This was the last car my son Cole built for his pinewood derby. It is modeled after the 1960’s Indy cars. Brass screen was used for the grille, and a stainless steel rod was used for the roll bar. The car placed first in the Webelos and was the fastest car overall. It also won “Best of Show” for the pack.

From Pinewood Derby Times Volume 11, Issue 14
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