The Interceptor

The Interceptor

Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 10, Issue 9
January 26, 2011

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Feature Article - Shop Talk - Choosing the Right Hand Saw

- Humor

- Tip

- Product Showcase - Axle Install Support - Free with order

- Car Showcase

- Q&A

Editor's Notes

Race Management Services
For the past several issues, we have been requesting your input on race management services around the country. Here is the information that has been submitted to date. This will be posted on our web site. Please continue to send in additional companies/people that provide these services.

Please note that we do not have personal experience with, nor do we endorse any of these companies.

(Unless otherwise noted, the term "Race Management" means that the company/person will provide the equipment and assistance to stage a race at your facility.)


Derby David (David Keith)
Track Rentals; Race Management; Classes; Special Events
Phoenix, Arizona and surrounding area


Rick Doty
Race Management
Central Illinois


Brian Thorp
Race Management at ours or your location
Waterloo, Iowa and surrounding area


David Buie
Race Management
Somerset, Kentucky


Anthony Prince
Race Management
Battle Creek, Michigan and surrounding area

Jerry Dent
Race Management
North Grand Rapids, Michigan and surrounding area

Keith Larson
Race Management
Bagley, Minnesota and surrounding area

Brad Harmon
Track Rentals, Race Management, Consulting
Anoka and Isanti Counties
651-415-2596 (B)
763-772-8845 (C)


John Cusimano
Race Management
New Jersey

Racemasters (Craig)
Race Management
Northern New Jersey


Scott Morrill
Race Management, track rentals
Davis, Weber, Morgan, Salt Lake and Utah counties

Can We Help?
If we can help you in any way with your pinewood derby project, or if you have any feedback regarding this newsletter, please contact us at:

Feature Article

Shop Talk - Choosing the Right Hand Saw

In today's modern age, power tools have largely supplanted the use of hand tools. Not long ago, one of the primary tools of a carpenter was a hand-powered cross cut saw. But the advent of the circular saw put a big dent in hand saw sales.

However, the average pinewood derby car builder doesn't have a shop equipped with power tools, and it doesn't make financial sense to invest in expensive tools for the once a year car building event. So a hand-powered saw is the tool that makes the most sense for most car builders.

The question then is: "What type of saw should I purchase for working on a pinewood derby car?" Hopefully, this article will give you the information to make a wise purchase.

Cross Cut Saw And Rip Saw

Source -

Using a Cross Cut Saw is the traditional way to saw a board into shorter pieces. Similar in appearance, but less popular is the Rip Saw. It has coarser teeth, which makes it easier to saw a board along the grain of the wood.

If you are building a wedge-shaped pinewood derby car, or a car that is essentially a flat board, then a Cross Cut Saw or a Rip Saw will certainly work. But both saws will leave significant teeth marks in the wood (especially the Rip Saw), so quite a bit of sanding will be required.

Back Saw

Source -

A Back Saw is the generic name for a hand saw with a reinforced top edge to minimize flexing, small closely spaced teeth, and a narrow width. It comes in several varieties including the Miter Saw and Tenon Saw.

Because of the stiffness and finely spaced teeth, a Back Saw will cut very straight and will leave minimal teeth marks. However, the stiffened edge limits the depth of the cut. So if, for example, you were making a flat car, the back saw would not be able to make the full seven inch cut.


Source -

A Hacksaw is designed for cutting through metal. The saw frame supports replaceable blades with very fine teeth, is adjustable for different blade lengths, and allows the blade to be rotated either parallel (normal), or perpendicular to the frame. The fine-toothed blade will readily cut through pine and leaves minimal teeth marks in the wood. The limitation of the cut depth can be avoided by rotating the blade to be perpendicular to the frame. Another feature of the hacksaw is that many of them will support the mounting of two blades. The dual blade width is just about right for making new axle slots.

Many hobby shops offer a small version of a Hacksaw, often called a "Hobby Saw".


It is not as versatile as the full-sized Hacksaw, but it nice for making tiny cuts when making a more detailed car.

So, if you are looking for a saw that can make straight cuts and can be used after pinewood derby season, the hacksaw would be a good choice.

Coping Saw

Source -

The Coping saw sports a very narrow, fine-toothed, replaceable blade, which allows making curved cuts. The large bow allows a fairly deep cut, but like the Hacksaw, the blade of the Coping Saw can be rotated to eliminate any restrictions.

Overall, the Coping Saw is the most versatile hand saw, and likely the most popular saw for pinewood derby use. With it you can make straight or curved cuts, leaving minimal teeth marks in the wood. Another use of the Coping Saw is to make inner cuts. Let's say that you want to make a car similar to the Speeder.

Standard Wheelbase Speeder

To hollow out the inside, you would first drill a hole through the car (alternately, drill four holes, one at each corner of the area to be cut out). Next, disassemble the saw blade, insert it through the hole, and reattach it to the Coping Saw frame. Then cut out the center area, and remove the blade.

Other Saws
The world of hand saws goes well beyond the saws described in this article. Other saws include the Jeweler's Saw, Keyhole Saw, and Dovetail Saw. All of these could be used on pinewood derby cars, but are less common and certainly less versatile than the Coping saw.


A man's car stalled on a country road. When he got out to fix it, a cow came along and stopped beside him. "Your trouble is probably in the carburetor," said the cow.

Startled, the man jumped back and ran down the road until he met a farmer. He told the farmer his story.

"Was it a large red cow with a brown spot over the right eye?" asked the farmer.

"Yes, yes," the man replied.

"Oh! I wouldn't listen to Bessie," said the farmer. "She doesn't know a thing about cars."

Speed Tip
Submitted by Tim Grimstead

As a father of four scouts and a Den Leader, I've participated in several axle polishing "evolutions". The biggest problem seems to be the kids keeping the sandpaper in order. This of course is compounded by the high grit sandpaper being very similar colors, which confuses even the adults. Preparing for a derby workshop for my Den, I was on the hunt for some craft sticks to use as sandpaper backing. Walking through the Dollar Store my daughter found a large bag of multi- colored craft sticks. I had an epiphany! Glue the sandpaper to the sticks in a color coded sequence!

We did this on a large scale by cutting sheets of sandpaper to width to fit the sticks. Then we applied a thin layer of glue to the back of the sheets. The colored sticks were placed in parallel on the sheets leaving a small gap between each stick. Wax paper was placed between each stick sheet and a book was placed on top to compress the sheets as they dried.

Product Showcase

Axle Install Support: Free with Shippable Order
Axle Install Support
Click Here for More Information
Axle Install Support
Click Here for More Information

Due to the design of most pinewood derby wheels, it can be difficult to set the proper gap. On many wheels, including BSA, Awana, and Pine car, the recess of the wheel's sidewall prevents the axle from being fully inserted.

The Axle Install Support solves this issue. The support provides a concave post to support the head of the axle while pressing the axle into place. The Axle Install Support can be used with or without the Pro-Axle Guide.

Through February 8, 2011, you can add one Axle Install Support to your order at no charge. To take advantage of this limited time offer, Click Here.

Car Showcase

Bunny Car - Tim Grimstead

This is Tessa's Bunny car which took 2nd in Juniors and 2nd in the Girl Scout Open at the 2010 council Powder Puff Derby.

Fan Car - Charles Baum

Attached are pictures of my fan-powered car. I purchased the kit from Maximum Velocity and then made my own car from a standard block with racing wheels and axles from Maximum Velocity. The bottom of the block is hollowed-out for the battery. This car totally wiped-out all other contestants in an Adult Pinewood Derby (Open-class) that is a fundraiser for a local Scout troop.

First Car - Tom Peterson

This was my son's first car. It took second place at the Pack and second place at the Districts - the same scout beat him both times.

Share your car with our readers!
Do you have a car you would like to 'show off' to our readers? If so, send us a photo of your car along with a brief description of any special features. Also, please include your full name. If selected, we will include the photo and description in this newsletter.Please e-mail photos to:

Photos must be sent by e-mail in JPG format (minimum size of 640x480, maximum size of 1280 x 960). Please shoot photos from the front left of the car, similar to the orientation of this car:

Send only one photo per car, unless an additional photo is needed to adequately show a feature. Also, only one car per subscriber per year please. Thanks!


When polishing Awana axles, would it work to wax them after polishing with an automobile paste wax before adding graphite, or would this just gum up the works?

I recommend going straight to the graphite. I believe there is a greater chance of the wax causing a problem then there is of the wax improving performance.

I was watching some videos of some derby races the other day and noticed that some of the cars had one or two wheels put on backwards. That is to say the sidewall was facing the side of the car. What benefit or edge would that give your car?

If you plan to angle the wheels (axle head higher than the axle tip), then some people prefer to run the wheels on the sidewall edge. That edge has less flex. However, many wheels have raised lettered or tread marks on the sidewalls. So, you would want to remove the writing and tread marks, as they might scrape on the raised lane guide. Make sure to check if this is allowed by your local rules.

My son and I have been tapering the head of the BSA axle. Since the inception of the new BSA wheel design, we have had to modify the outer bore surface of the wheel using the Pro Outer Hub Shaver to remove the "step" that is molded into the wheels. My question is:

Is it better to bevel the head and remove the step on the outer hub, or leave the axle head square and leave the step intact?

I think you are better off with a beveled head and removing the step. This makes the contact point close to the shaft of the axle, and minimizes the size of the contact ring. If you leave the head square and leave the step, then the contact ring is farther away from the shaft, and the contact ring is larger.

Do You Have Questions that Need Answers?
Do you have a pinewood derby-related question? If so, send your question to: We answer all questions by e-mail, but not every question will appear in the Q&A section of the newsletter.

Back Issues

Are you a new subscriber, or have you missed some of the previous newsletters? Don't miss out! All of the issues for Volume 5 through Volume 10 are posted on our web site and can be found using our Newsletter Index.

Issues from Volumes 1 to 4 are available in four formatted documents, ready for immediate download. To find out more, Click Here.

Newsletter Contributions

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Please read our submission policy.

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The Pinewood Derby Times is a free e-newsletter focused on the Pinewood Derby. It is published bi-weekly from October through April.

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Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times

Copyright ©2010, Randy Davis. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or place this newsletter on your web site without explicit permission. However, if you like this newsletter we grant permission, and encourage you to e-mail it to a friend.

The author disclaims any personal loss or liability caused by utilization of any information presented in this newsletter.

The Pinewood Derby Times is not specific to, and is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts, YMCA, Awana, or any other organization.

®Maximum Velocity! is a registered trademark of Maximum Velocity! Pinewood Derby Products.
Pinewood Derby, and Space Derby are registered trademarks of Boys Scouts of America. All other names are trademarks of their respective owners.

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