Building A Pinewood Derby Car - Step-By-Step Instructions

A well-built derby car will slide down the track faster due to the car’s shape and weight.

Your Cub Scout will be proud to place his car on the track when he’s had a hand in making it and knowing it will fly when the starting gate is opened. Be sure to let him have a hand in the assembly, as this will instill even more pride in his final accomplishments.


Step 1:

Saw a block of pinewood to 5 inches long. Most car kits will come with a pre-cut block of wood. The dimensions should be 5 inches long, nearly 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high.

Draw a line down the side of the wood block. Cut along the line using a handsaw. This will create a wedge when it's cut. The point will be the nose of the car.

Step 2:

Chisel out a hollow area in the underside of the piece of wood. Place the metal weights inside the hollow area. Chisel away at the area until the weights fit into the hollow area snugly. You can also learn how to get a professional cut by reading up on the function of a wood router.

Once a good fit is established, remove the weights and add glue to the area. Replace the weights.

Step 3:

Sand the entire body of the car until you achieve a smooth finish, keeping the angle of the body present.

Step 4:

Paint the car using either model car paints (1) or spray paint. This is easiest.

For a more detailed paint finish, including designs and various colors, use the model paints.

Step 5:

Add the wheels by placing the nail into the wheel base. If you are using a pinewood car kit, the wheels and nails will be included. If not, you may purchase these at any hobby store.

Push the nails into the pre-made slots on the bottom of the car. Use a hammer to force them in entirely if they will not move into place.

Gently glue the area of the nail and wood, paying special attention not to get any glue on the wheel itself.

Step 6:

Pour powdered graphite into the wheel base and spin the wheels. This will allow the wheels to spin more easily and help the car gain speed as it goes down the track.

Last Words

So there you have it: a well-built derby car (2) ready to provide hours upon hours of fun for kids and adults alike.

Any questions about this step-by-step guide? Leave a comment!