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Pinewood Derby Body Q&A
What is a "standard" and "extended" wheelbase, and why do I care?
A "standard" wheelbase positions the axles the same as the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby kit. An "extended" wheelbase places the axles closer to the ends of the block. Note that some kits have a "centered" wheelbase, and other variations exist. For more information on wheelbases, Click Here
In general, an extended wheelbase provides more stability and performance. So, if allowed by your local rules, use an extended wheelbase.
How do I drill axle holes?
Unless you have a drill press with an accurate fence, use a Pro-Body Tool, or a Pro-Body Jig. These tools can be found Here
How do I cut new axles slots?
New axle slots can be cut with a band saw, or with a hacksaw equipped with two blades (usually a hacksaw will accept two blades. However, it can be difficult to accurately cut slots, so it is often prudent to purchase blocks with precision slots. These blocks can be found Here
What is the best saw to use for cutting the body?
A band saw is the best power tool for this job. A coping saw is generally the best hand saw. However, if you just need to make a straight cut (such as cutting a wedge shape), then any saw (carpenter's saw, back saw, etc.) will generally work.
How do I curve and shape the body?
I like to use a 4-in-hand rasp. This is a coarse file with four faces, two are flat and two are curved. After roughly shaping the car with the 4-in-hand rasp, use sandpaper to finish shaping. If needed, Bondo (car body filler that can be found at any auto parts store) can be used to add contours or fill in gaps.
What type of drill bits should I use?
I recommend the following:
How do I make weight pockets?
Holes under 1/8 inch - High-Speed Steel bit - Standard drill bit found in any drill set. A #44 (3/32 inch for Awana) drill bit is used for drilling axle holes.
Holes between 1/8 inch and 7/16 inch - Brad Point Drill Bits - Equipped with a sharp center tip and side cutters to make clean holes in wood. Brad Point bits are commonly used for drilling weight holes in pinewood derby blocks.
Holes over 7/16 inch - Forstner Bit - Equipped with a sharp center tip, side cutters, and bottom blade for making clean, flat-bottomed holes in wood. 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.
Repeatedly drill into the pocket area with a Brad Point or Forstner bit, then use a wood chisel to carefully create the corners and straighten the edges of the pocket.
Is aerodynamics important?
Not as important as other factors, but in a close race a more aerodynamic car will generally provide an advantage.
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