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Pinewood Derby Times
Volume 9, Issue 7
December 30, 2009

In this Edition:

- Editor's Notes

- Humor

- Shop Talk - Drilling With Accuracy

- Product Showcase

- Car Showcase

- Q&A

Happy New Year to you and your family!
May you have a blessed holiday season.

Editor's Notes

Holiday Issue
We're taking a break from article writing, so there isn't a feature article in this edition.

Reader Feedback From Butch Weathers:
"I was standing out in the cold here in New Jersey with my daughter last weekend trying to figure out which strings of outdoor Christmas lights worked and which would need to be fixed. Once we'd replaced any obviously broken or missing bulbs the next task was to methodically replace each bulb in a string that wasn't lighting up with another one. Some of the bulbs came out easily but many were stubborn. My daughter said to me, 'I know you have a tool for everything, how come you don't have one to take the bulbs out'. So I went to my workshop looking for something that would work. I first grabbed a pair of diagonal cutters which I thought could work if I didn't put too much pressure on them. Then I saw the Axle Extraction Pliers I bought from you a few years ago. They were perfect; they could have been designed for just this task! I happily went back outside and gave my daughter the 'bulb puller tool', and her faith in me was restored."

Help - We Need Your Car Photos and Memories
We are in need of cars for the Car Showcase, and we are out of pinewood derby memories. Please send your photos and memories and we'll get them published. Thanks.

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:

Inventory Clearance
We have added three decals and NyOil II to our Inventory Clearance Sale.

There you will also find all of the older style BSA wheels, car kits, car plan booklets, and the "Down and Derby" DVD.

Maximum Velocity Car Kits
If you are planning a race and are not required to use a specific kit type, our MV Basic Car Kit is just what you need. These attractively priced kits are equipped with:

  • Quality Block - Unlike the blocks provided by some organizations, our blocks are soft, northwestern pine blocks, cut precisely to 7 inches long, 1-3/4 inches wide, and 1-1/4 inches tall. These dimensions, as well as the axle slots accurately duplicate the dimensions of standard pinewood derby blocks from BSA and PineCar.

  • Simple Axle Preparation - Don't worry about filing off flaws, or losing hub caps. Our Speed Axles have no burrs or crimp marks, and install without hub caps. With or without polishing, they are ready to go. We supply five, so you have a spare.

  • Quality Wheels - Forget cheap, out of round wheels. We supply top- quality, PineCar-brand wheels to give great performance.
  • So, if your organization does not mandate a particular kit type, consider our Maximum Velocity Car Kits.


    As a young bagpiper, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man with no family or friends.

    The funeral was to be held at a cemetery way back in the country, and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.

    As I was not familiar with the backwoods area, I became lost and being a typical man did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew, who were eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight.

    I apologized to the workers for my tardiness, and stepped to the side of the open grave, where I saw the vault lid already in place.

    I assured the workers I would not hold them up for long, but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. I played out my heart and soul.

    As I played the workers began to weep. I played, and I played, like I'd never played before: from "My Home" and "The Lord Is My Shepherd" to "Flowers of the Forest". I closed the lengthy session with "Amazing Grace" and walked to my car.

    As I was opening the door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of the workers saying to another,

    "Well bless me, I never seen nothin' like that before - and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

    Shop Talk

    Drilling With Accuracy

    If you were reading a book and the phrase "drill bit" was used, what mental image would you conjure up? Most people would think of a standard high-speed steel (HSS) drill bit that is part of the drill bit set in most people's toolbox. This type of drill bit is certainly the most popular, but it is not the best drill bit choice for many woodworking tasks.

    Today, we will discuss the various drill bit types available for woodworking, and how they apply to pinewood derby cars.

    Regardless of the drill bit type, make sure to know the chuck size of your drill. The chuck size determines the maximum shaft diameter of the drill bit that can be used. Most drills today have a 1/2 inch chuck, but there are some drills that have a 3/8 inch chuck. If your drill has a 3/8 inch chuck, make sure to purchase bits with a shaft no larger than 3/8 inch.

    Drill Bit Types
    For woodworking, you will find the following drill bit types at your local hardware store:

    Forstner - Produces a flat-bottomed, clean edged hole with no chipping. The center point ensures that the hole is drilled where desired. For drilling holes over 7/16 inch, Forstner Bits are generally a better value than Brad Point bits. Some Forstner bits have a saw tooth edge (as seen in the photo) while others do not. Either type works well for pinewood derby use.

    Forstner bits are commonly used for creating wheel wells for attaching to the side of a pinewood derby block. They are also used for creating holes for tungsten rounds.

    Figure 1 - Forstener Drill Bit
    Photo Source:

    Brad Point - Produces a clean edged hole will no chipping. The center point ensures that the drill bit doesn't wander. For drilling holes between 1/8 and 7/16 inch, Brad Point bits are usually a better value than Forstner bits and do a better job than HSS bits.

    Brad Point bits are commonly used for drilling weight holes in pinewood derby blocks

    Figure 2 - Brad Point Drill Bit
    Photo Source:

    Auger - Produces a clean, accurate hole. The screw tip causes the bit to "power feed", and the auger shape helps in chip removal, so this type of bit is beneficial for drilling very deep holes.

    Although Auger bits can be used for pinewood derby cars, Brad Point or Forstner bits are usually a better choice. The screw tip on the Auger bit is not desirable for pinewood derby cars as it makes the hole too deep, and the power feed action can be a bit unwieldy for novice woodworkers.

    Figure 3 - Auger Drill Bit
    Photo Source:

    HSS - A general purpose drill bit for use in wood, metal, plastic, etc. Especially in larger sizes, HSS bits often chip the edge of the hole, and can "wander". But for holes in a pinewood derby block under 1/8 inch, these are the only real choice.

    To minimize chipping, keep the drill speed high, but the feed speed low. To minimize drill bit wander, make a small dimple in the wood at the drilling location with a nail or a punch.

    Figure 4 - HSS Drill Bit
    Photo Source:

    Spade - Also known as a "Paddle Bit" this type of inexpensive bit is used for rough boring. Typically they are used in carpentry where a clean hole is not necessary. I strongly recommend avoiding Spade Bits for pinewood derby use.

    Figure 5 - Spade Bit
    Photo Source:

    Product Showcase

        Axle Extraction Pliers    
    $2.00 off

    If you have built even one pinewood derby car, then you know that removing axles without damaging something can be quite a chore. Oftentimes, considerable force is required. If the force is applied to the wheel, then the wheel can be damaged, especially with the expensive, high-performance wheels in common use today. If a standard pair of pliers is used, the axle head can be chewed up. In either case, the car itself may be damaged as well.

    Our Axle Extraction Pliers will help you remove axles with minimal risk of damage. The curved and grooved jaws of the Axle Extraction Pliers provide strong but even gripping power on the axle head, minimizing damage to the axle, and giving maximum leverage to the user. Just grasp the axle head and gently remove the axle with a twist-and-pull motion.

    Through January 12, 2010, get a pair of Axle Extraction Pliers for $2.00 off the regular price. To take advantage of this limited time offer,
    Click Here.

    Car Showcase

    Road Grader - Rob Knapp

    This is my 2009 Pinewood Derby car, entered in the adult division. As a Cub Scout Den leader, I try to show the boys what is possible to build from a block of wood. This road grader started life as an official BSA kit. The grader is all wood except for a few pieces of copper wire and part of a pop can I used for the cab roof overhang. This was a very challenging build, but I think the results are favorable.

    Queen Bee - William Lund

    Every year my boys were in Cub Scouts I had to build extra cars for my daughter and me to race in the Open class. Well, one year my mother- in-law wanted a car to race. I thought and thought ... then I remembered that I had always called her "The Queen Bee" of the family. So I went to work making her a car. I cut the shape on a band saw, added a little extra wood to the top to make the body of the bee taller. I hand-sanded the round shapes, found some balsa wood for the wings, added the antennae and crown, and painted it to look like a bee. It was the hit of the pinewood derby. It did not win, but came in second in all of its races -- I couldn't let my mother-in-law's car beat mine!

    Hot Wheels - Randal Veenker

    It was my last year as Cubmaster of my pack. I ran the pinewood derby race for the pack as well as being the chairman for our district race. I wanted to have a show car for the last pack race in the open class. I found a Hot Wheels car that gave me the inspiration for this car. It was a looker as well as fast, but not quite fast enough to win.

    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!


    Do you have any tips for beveling back the head of an Awana axle (kind of file, speed of drill press, how to hold the file, etc.)?

    Use a medium speed, and a mini-file. If you dip the file in water, it will cut nicer - just make sure to dry off the file thoroughly when complete.

    Only a very slight angle is needed. The resulting bevel should be virtually undetectable by the human eye. I am guessing about three degrees.

    Note that the file cuts on a push stroke, not a pull stroke. So orient the file so that the axle material is rotating towards the file handle.

    I'm considering buying a scroll saw to help in carving cars. Few of the parents in our Awana club have access to power tools so we do the rough shaping on most of the cars using a jig saw, belt sander, and Dremel tool. Is there a better tool than a scroll saw? Do you have any advice about what to look for in a scroll saw? Do you have any tips for using one (besides being extra careful to not cut off a finger)?

    A Band Saw is a much better tool for cutting cars. A scroll saw has a very fine blade and is intended for fine scroll work.

    Figure 1 - Scroll Saw

    Figure 2 - Scroll Work

    A band saw has a wider blade, so it can cut through thicker material much easier. It is more dangerous than a scroll saw, so more care needs to be taken.

    I would suggest a bench mount Jet, Delta, or Craftsman band saw (avoid buying a cheap import). You should be able to get one for under $200. Make sure the one you get will support a 3/8 inch blade. Anything smaller is too small for most pinewood derby work.

    Although this one is too small for my taste, here is a Sears 9inch model for just over $100. It will take a 3/8 inch blade. I recommend purchasing a fence for it. That allows you to make accurate straight cuts, and with a jig make accurate angled cuts (think of a Wedge pinewood derby car).

    Figure 3 - Sears Band Saw

    I use a 14 inch Jet, which is much more durable. If you plan to only use it occasionally, then the Sears would be fine. But if you plan to use the band saw on a regular basis, get a larger one (14 inch).

    Our Cub Scout District does not allow graphite or oils of any kind. I overheard one racer talking about waxing his axle and wheel hub. Have you ever experimented with wax? What kind? Also, what do you think of spray silicone? When the propellent dries there is no trace of anything. The white powder we're told to use is terrible. Any suggestions you might have would be most appreciated.

    Silicon spray works well, but doesn't last long enough to be effective. But several waxes work well. One that is commonly used is Lemon Pledge. Spray it on the axle, let it dry, then lightly buff off any residue. Other waxes, such as paste wax for cars, should work well, but I have not tried them.

    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.

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    Randy Davis, Editor, Pinewood Derby Times

    Copyright ©2009, 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.

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

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