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Pinewood Derby Car

I’ve mentioned that Calfgrit8 is in Cub Scouts, and this coming weekend is the Pinewood Derby races for the local pack. We got the car kit (a block of wood, four plastic wheels & nails) several weeks ago, but we hadn’t started on actually making the car until last week.

CG8 just hasn’t shown much interest in the event or in the idea of creating the car. He’s been attentive when I’ve mentioned it and talked about ideas, but he hasn’t brought up anything about it on his own. I think he just doesn’t have a real understanding of what the whole event is. I’ve tried explaining it to him, going off just what I remember from my Scout days — 30-some years ago. But I think it’s still only a vague concept for him.

I remember participating in a Pinewood Derby at least twice as a boy. My step-dad got the block of wood carved and sanded at the local community college, where he worked as a teacher (he wasn’t the carpentry teacher, though). I can only remember little snippets of making the car and of racing the car. When my mom moved out of her old house last year, we found one of my old derby cars. I don’t remember what we did with it — I might have just thrown it away, although, now, I wish I had it.

I don’t have any wood-working tools. I’ve got a bunch of useful household tools, but nothing really for woodworking other than a handsaw and a standard cordless drill. I have no carpentry machines. Two weeks ago at a Scout meeting, I talked to a couple of dads and asked them how they carved their cars.

“Oh, I just ran it through the shozim, edged it with my harriror, and then smoothed it over with my xizigy.” Yeah, I had no idea what they were talking about.

So last weekend I went to work on the block of wood with my handsaw, my drill, and some sandpaper. It took me an hour, but I managed to shape the thing into a decent car shape. CG8 came up with the ideas of adding a Lego figure driver, painting it red, and he picked out the flame decals for it.

I drilled big holes underneath the car to add metal washers to bring it up to the 5 ounces weight limit, and I think it’s shaping up to be a decent race car. Having seen a couple of other cars in our pack, and some of the design examples on the Internet, I have no hope that this car will win the derby, but it’s not a really bad looking piece of work.

Right now it’s still disassembled, waiting for the clear coat of gloss to dry, so I can’t get a picture of it. But the race is this Saturday, so I’ll have some pictures of the completed project to show next week. I hope after he sees what the whole derby event is like this time, next year he’ll have more interest in directly working on it.


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