Pinewood Derby

The most important thing when building a PWD car is to HAVE FUN and to let your Scout be creative and do as much work on the car as appropriate for their age.

The Rules and Regulations must be adhered to when building your car.

Here are some online resources to help you out:

  • Scout Life has a car template, as well as other resources for designs and tips.

  • Here is a link to some car patterns that you may want to use, for beginner and intermediate car builders.

  • Here is a 'How To' video for building a PWD car.

There are also plenty of other resources on the web for building a car as well as car patterns for all skill levels. Also see below for some tips from one of our Pack parents. Just remember to follow the guidelines in the Pack 40 Rules and Regulations file!! The Pack's rules are FINAL.

Official BSA Cub Scout PWD weights and decals can be purchased at the Scout Shop in Cedar Knolls. Weights and decals can also be purchased at some craft shops, but please make sure all are official BSA Cub Scout PWD items. Please use appropriate designs, logos, graphics on the cars.


Building tips from a Pack parent

I recommend having a coping saw and a junior hacksaw (6 inches or so), some 60 grit and 100 grit sandpaper, a set of small detailing files (also called needle files; optional but really useful), a kitchen scale that can show ounces, white primer spray paint, enamel paint in colors, clear gloss spray paint, graphite powder, and weights. The weights and graphite powder are available in the scout store, or you can get them online.

For the weights, there are various shapes (e.g. round, flat, putty, stick-on) and they come in either a generic alloy or tungsten. Tungsten is much more expensive, but also denser, meaning you need less of it to get more weight, which also means drilling less holes in the car. Here's an example of a common, general alloy, weight set you can also get in the scout store

How I usually do it with the kids:

  1. Have them come up with the design and draw it out on a template

  2. Draw on the block with a pencil based on the template, or trace the template.

  3. Cut the big chunky sections with a coping saw and/or junior hacksaw. This part can be really HARD for the little scouts, so be sure to help them out.

  4. Cut any detail with the coping saw and/or junior hacksaw, or use the detailing files. A pocketknife is also really useful.

  5. Sand with the 60 grit sandpaper until happy, then finish with the 100 grit sandpaper.

  6. Weigh your car, wheels and axles. The car cannot weigh more than 5oz as per the rules and regulations. Getting close to 5oz is optional, but a heavier car will compete better, so if you want to, now is the time to figure out how much weight you need to add on the scale to get you close to 5oz. Be sure to leave a little room for error and paint weight.

  7. Add the weight to the car by drilling out the bottom (or rear or side) for round weights, or cutting out a recess on the bottom for flat weights. We use hot glue to hold the weights in place (don't forget to account for hot glue in the weight if you use it). Alternatively, you can put the weight on top of the car, making it part of the decoration, but be sure to account for the height and bottom-clearance as listed in the rules and regulations.

  8. Paint and decorate the car. We usually first spray the car with a coat or two of white primer and let it dry, but that is optional. We then paint the car with enamel paint and let it dry. Finally, we usually spray the car with a coat or two of clear gloss, but that is also optional. You can also use decals or other decorative items. If you add anything substantial, be sure to account for the weight as well as the height and bottom-clearance as listed in the rules and regulations.

  9. Put on the wheels. The axles should go in as far as possible, but leave some space so the wheels still spin. I use a credit card as a spacer.

  10. Add the number stickers for your car near the front bumper. The Pack will assign you the number.

  11. Optionally graphite the wheels. You can get the powdered graphite in the scout store or online.

Uncut block showing front and back of car and standard axles. Standard pre-drilled axle locations MUST be used.
Example of using barrel weights. Drill hole from one side of car, but not all the way through to the other side. Insert weights and glue them in place, if desired. Wood filler can be used to cover the weights and be painted over.
Free Wheeling Wheels video.mp4
Video of free spinning wheels. All wheels MUST spin freely and touch the track. No wheel can be pinned to the car or raised off the track.
When adding weight to the bottom of the car, the weights must be recessed into the car so they don't hit the track.
Another view of a weight recessed into the car so it is flush with the bottom of the car.
Weights can also be added to the top of the car. Just be sure to screw or glue them on to secure them.
Numbers must be placed on the top of the car, near the front bumper so the crew that picks and places the cars for the race and upcoming heats can easily identify the cars.
NOTE: The Pack will assign numbers to each car, and will notify you of your number. Please do not randomly pick a number for your car.
Example of how the front of the car must hit the starting pin. Front of car should be flat, rounded or come to a point.
Example of illegal car with notched front. the notch will allow the car to extend over the starting pin.
Example of illegal car with notched front and cheater bar.