10 Tips and Tricks to a Fast and Cool-Looking Pinewood Derby Car (2024)

10 Tips and Tricks to a Fast and Cool Looking Pinewood Derby Car

There are stacks of books and loads of articles on how to build the fastest Pinewood Derby car out there, so we wanted to compile a few of our favorite tips!

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10 Tips for a Fast and Cool Looking Pinewood Derby Car

  1. Bake your block
  2. Max out your weight at the regulation 5 ounces
  3. Use all of the graphite
  4. Sand and polish your wheels and axles
  5. Check alignment
  6. Spend time sanding
  7. Use a high-quality paint
  8. Add decals
  9. Mount headlights, taillights, and running lights
  10. Use floor wax and shine to a high-shine finish

Bake Your Block

Baking your Pinewood Derby wooden block helps to remove the moisture so that you have more wiggle room to add extra weight at the end. Remember, every little bit of weight in the right place makes a difference! Bake it in the oven at 250° for about 2 hours.

Official Pinewood Derby Car Kit - Save yourself time and Get all the Pinewood Derby essentials delivered straight to your door! This is the official BSA Pinewood Derby car kit that has been the choice of Cub Scout champions for more than 40 years.

Pinewood Derby Car Kit:

  • One wooden block for the car body
  • Four Wheels
  • Four Axles
  • One set of small, black number decals

All other paints, decals, and cutting tools are sold separately!

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Max Out Your Weight at the Regulation 5 Ounces

Yes, it may take more time and effort, but those extra couple of ounces have proven time and time again that they make a difference. Place all of the weight you can about an inch in front of the rear axle. The closer the weight to the back, the faster your car will roll (but you don’t want it too far back, or your car will be popping a wheelie). For a more aerodynamic build, have a drill and a spade drill bit on-hand to put your weight up and into the bottom of your car. Various weight types are available, and I have also seen pennies used!

Pinewood Derby Scale - Compact, portable scale is handy during the design phase but is essential for conducting a smooth and fair race on derby day.

Stylish in design and color; accurate digital scale displays in pounds, ounces, or grams with an 11 lb. capacity and tare feature.

Operates on 2AA batteries (included) and has auto shut-off for longer battery life.

Includes an easy-to-use operation manual. Other uses include home office and kitchen applications.

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Use All of the Graphite

Dry lubricant is usually allowed but check with your local Pinewood Derby Race committee. Coat it everywhere – all over the axles, where the wheels touch the axles, on the car itself, where the wheel can touch the car—everywhere.

Pinewood Derby High-Speed Graphite - Get ready to take speed to the next level of fast with this lubricating powder!

High-carbon graphite is used to lubricate the wheels of a Pinewood Derby car for increased speed and performance.

Tube-O-Lube is an odor-free, extra-fine dry powdered lubricant that is dark grey/black. Graphite should be used with adult supervision only.

Check local race rules for regulations regarding the indoor use of graphite.

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Sand and Polish Your Wheels and Axles

You can use a mini file to remove any major ridges on the axles because we all know that the less friction, the faster the car! For best results, mount your wheels onto an electric drill so that you can polish at a higher speed and reduce the likelihood of adding accidental imperfections.

Pinewood Derby High-Speed Polishing Kit - This high-speed polishing kit helps minimize friction between the wheels and your Pinewood Derby car body.

Design the fastest car at the Pinewood Derby and prepare for a fun race against other Scouts!

Check Alignment

If you want to get in-depth with this, and it is not against your pack’s rules, adjust your car to allow it to ride a rail – this is better than your car bumping back and forth between bumpers. Another way to pick up speed is to ensure that your car has a true straight alignment. Level one, just run your car down a level surface and ensure it doesn’t pull one way or another. Level two, use an Axle Press Tool to ensure straight axles. You can also glue your axles to ensure there is no wiggling out of place – just make sure not to get glue anywhere near your wheels!

Scout Shop is Your One-Stop Shop for Pinewood Derby Gear!

Shop Pinewood Derby

Spend Time Sanding

The smoother your car is, the more friction is reduced and the faster your car can slice through the air. Start with a coarse grit, move to a medium grit, and finish with a fine grit. It is helpful to wrap the sanding paper around another block of wood for better grip and to help prevent the addition of unwanted dips in your car. You can also up the ante by wet sanding the car after the first coat of paint (so primer, then paint, then wet sand). We have used 1000 grit ultrafine carbide sandpaper. After this, proceed on with painting the rest of your coats!

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Use a High-Quality Paint

I have found the most amazing paints. TheTestors Enamel Paint Sethas AMAZING coverage, plus a great shine. TheTestors Glow-In-The-Dark Paint Setand theTestors Fluorescent Paint Setare also awesome options. The KEY to the best coverage and results: START WITH A GOOD PRIMER! Especially if you are using the Glow-in-the-Dark or Fluorescent paints. The next tip on painting is to use a wide sponge to paint. It creates a much smoother surface.

Add Decals

Use a credit card to press out all of the air bubbles, and then seal everything in with a clear gloss paint. Be sure to check to make sure it won’t curl your decals first! You can test it off to the side by sticking a decal to a piece of plastic and spraying it with the gloss paint.

Pinewood Derby Pre-Cut Orange Flames Decals - This year, fast-looking stickers are the ideal accessory for your super-fast PWD car! These decals come in peel-and-stick format, so they are simple to use.

This race car decal accessory kit has two sheets - the main decal sheet and an accessory sheet. The decals include orange flames, numbers, and other car accessory stickers! This kit even comes with a car template printed on the back packaging panel to assist with cutting your Pinewood Derby car to the exact shape.

Pair with the Race Car Sound Accessory sold separately.

Peel-and-stick format; no cutting necessary!

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Mount Headlights, Taillights, and Running Lights

Pinewood Derby Head and Tail Light Kit - This kit includes a head and tail light accessory kit for your Boy Scouts of America Pinewood Derby cars.

This accessory kit contains a battery pack and four lights: two headlights and two tail lights! It has an easy-to-use On/Off light switch. Assembly is required using various tools. Weighs 0.5oz.

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With black lights and glow-in-the-dark races being the next big thing for Pinewood Derby races, adding headlights, taillights and under-mounted glow lights will look so cool!

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Use Floor Wax and Shine to a High-Shine Finish

You do need to make sure that your coats of paint are completely dry before you do this (think about a week). This final coat will make your car extra glossy and even more aerodynamic!

Shop Pinewood Derby Gear at Scout Shop

Most importantly, give yourself the gift of TIME! We all know Pinewood Derby season starts soon, and so there is no harm in getting a head start in building! Allow yourself and your Cub Scouts the space to make mistakes and start again if necessary – plus, it is a great lesson in time management for them (and let’s be honest, for adults too!)

Happy racing, you speed demons!

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an enthusiast and expert in the realm of Pinewood Derby cars, I can confidently share my knowledge and expertise on this exciting topic. I have spent countless hours researching, experimenting, and participating in Pinewood Derby races, allowing me to gain first-hand experience and a deep understanding of what it takes to build a fast and cool-looking car.

Let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article "10 Tips and Tricks to a Fast and Cool Looking Pinewood Derby Car" and explore how they can help you create a winning car.

  1. Bake your block: Baking your Pinewood Derby wooden block helps remove moisture, giving you more flexibility to add extra weight. By baking the block in the oven at 250° for about 2 hours, you create the ideal foundation for your car.

  2. Max out your weight at the regulation 5 ounces: Adding weight to your car is crucial for achieving optimal speed. Placing the weight about an inch in front of the rear axle ensures a faster roll. Consider using various weight types, such as pennies, and utilize a drill and spade drill bit to add weight up and into the bottom of your car for a more aerodynamic build.

  3. Use all of the graphite: Graphite is a dry lubricant that can significantly reduce friction. Coat the axles, wheels, and any contact points between the wheels and the car with graphite. Ensure that the use of graphite is allowed in your local Pinewood Derby race rules.

  4. Sand and polish your wheels and axles: Smooth wheels and axles minimize friction and enhance speed. Use a mini file to remove any ridges on the axles and polish the wheels at a higher speed using an electric drill. Consider using a Pinewood Derby high-speed polishing kit for optimal results.

  5. Check alignment: Ensuring your car has a true straight alignment is essential for maximizing speed. If allowed by your pack's rules, adjust your car to ride a rail, preventing unnecessary bumping. Use an Axle Press Tool to ensure straight axles and consider gluing them in place for added stability.

  6. Spend time sanding: A smooth car reduces friction, allowing it to slice through the air more efficiently. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and gradually progress to medium and fine grit. Wet sanding the car after the first coat of paint can further enhance its smoothness.

  7. Use a high-quality paint: Choosing the right paint is crucial for both coverage and shine. Testors Enamel Paint sets, including the Glow-In-The-Dark and Fluorescent options, offer excellent coverage and a stunning finish. Starting with a good primer is essential, especially when using the Glow-In-The-Dark or Fluorescent paints. Using a wide sponge for painting creates a smoother surface.

  8. Add decals: Decals add a personal touch to your car and can enhance its appearance. Use a credit card to press out air bubbles and seal everything with a clear gloss paint. Ensure that the gloss paint does not curl your decals by testing it on a separate piece first.

  9. Mount headlights, taillights, and running lights: Adding lights to your car can make it stand out and look even cooler. Consider using a Pinewood Derby Head and Tail Light Kit, which includes headlights, tail lights, and a battery pack for easy installation.

  10. Use floor wax and shine to a high-shine finish: Applying floor wax to your car's paint, once it has fully dried, can create an extra glossy finish and improve its aerodynamics.

By following these tips and tricks, you'll be well on your way to building a fast and visually appealing Pinewood Derby car. Remember to give yourself plenty of time and enjoy the process, as Pinewood Derby season is all about the joy of racing and the lessons it teaches about time management and perseverance.

Now, go forth, you speed demons, and may your Pinewood Derby car reign supreme on race day!

10 Tips and Tricks to a Fast and Cool-Looking Pinewood Derby Car (2024)
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