Call for volunteers - Cub Scout Pinewood Derby

Hi all,

My name is Chuck and I help run the local cub scout pack (5 to 10 yo). Dallas Makerspace is gracious enough to let us use their facilities to help us with some woodworking.


I need volunteers who can use the woodshop equipments, specifically the drill press, bandsaw, and sanders. The event is at Dec 18th, Saturday, from 1PM to 4 PM, but most likely end before then.


We have something called pinewood derby:

We give them a block of wood and 4 wheels and nails and we ask them to shape and race it on Jan 8th. In years past, some scouts have not been happy with their cars due to lack of woodworking experience. This year, I wanted to level the playing field and help everyone out.

The schedule is this

1:00 to 2:00 - Volunteers meet up and discuss what is needed and how best to tackle each task
2:00 to 2:15 - Waiver and safety talk for the scouts & parents
2:15 to 2:30 - Ask the scouts to design what cars they want to cut out
2:30 to 2:45 - Visit the woodshop and start the work
2:45 to 3:00 - Ask the scouts & parents to leave, while the volunteers keep cutting, the rest of the pack can go through the tour of the facilities
3:00 to 4:00 - Scouts return from the tour and they can apply any finishing touches that they want (stickers, paint, sanding, attach wheel, test out the cars)

A few side notes:

  • Things can happen, so the schedule above should be treated more as a guideline
  • I need the most help with the safety talk and cutting mostly, so if the volunteer needs to leave early at 3PM, that is perfectly understandable
  • The Board agreed to shut down the woodshop for 15 minutes for safety concern, which will be used to show scouts the various tools in the shop
  • There are the rules, if anyone is interested: Pack 837 Pinewood Derby Rules-Scout.pdf - Google Drive
  • There will be stencils for scouts to trace out if they don’t want to design their own cars. Here is an example: luthor2.pdf - Google Drive

I am very open to suggestions if anyone has any.

Shout out to @Julie-Harris for helping to organize this and all the behind the scenes work she had to do to get this approved.


1 Like

Is the DMS scrollsaw operational @IanLee ? It can be a help when cutting blocks, and is MUCH safer than the bandsaws.

I presume this is a ‘show’ for the Cubs and not a ‘do’ when it comes to cutting the cars on DMS machinery. Sounds obvious, but it’s worth verifying. Wouldn’t give Cubs anything other than a coping saw and sheets of sandpaper to work with, for safety’s sake.

@cwai2007 , are you doing this for an entire Pack (up to ~100 kids), or just one Den (5-8 kids)?

That said, I’m happy to volunteer to cut wood. You will need 3-4 volunteers total, not just me.

Scott (former Den and Derby Pit Crew Leader)

1 Like

this feels like the scouts aren’t doing the work to make their own cars. just applying finishing touches

There are lots of schools of thought on this topic. Tiger Cubs are six years old. Wouldn’t give them more than a coping saw to use safely. Sounds like they are just helping with wood cuts. The sanding, painting, assembly, tuning, and weighting should be done by the Cubs for sure.

Ha, I won’t even trust them with a coping saw.

Yes, I can verify that none of the scouts will touch the power tools, but it is important to show them the how they are used, so they don’t think these things just magically work out.

1 Like

For more context, I have 23 scouts signed up, with their parents. But, last minute drop out and sign up is a thing so final number may deviate.

Do you have any standards on how the weight pockets are to be cut? Lead Cylinders vs. Tungsten Cubes come with different cut requirements. You will need an appropriate sized drill bit, and a functional drill press (or two) for lead weight cylinder holes. Cubes are 1/4” dimensions as I recall, and can be done with a scroll-saw or bandsaw. Should also bring titebond wood glue (ideally the ‘thick and quick’ formulation) if any glue-ups (to fix mistakes) are needed.

I honestly haven’t thought weight pockets. If the scouts bring along weights or specific requests to add pockets, as long as they are easy to drill, I think it can be accommodated. If they are asking for something crazy or outlandish, it’s on them. Do you have any suggestions?

I will bring some wood glue that day.

1 Like

Titebond wood glue ‘Thick and Quick’ sets fast.

Find out the drill bit size needed to drill lead cylinder weight pockets and secure those sized drill bits.

It will be good to explain to any volunteers working to cut wood that the Pack’s derby rules cover the minimum dimensions of the wood, after it’s been cut. The area where the wheels are to be nailed to the wood block cannot be narrowed, and the length of the wood block cannot be extended beyond the original block’s length (i.e., don’t go making the wood block any longer than it is right out of the box).

I strongly suggest someone (you perhaps) reviews the Cub’s design before cuts are made, to ensure they don’t run afoul of the rules. Once the block is cut, it’s very difficult to fix changes that violate the rules

Good luck and see you at the event.


If urgency is needed we have hide glue which set in 45 mins and is stronger but the kids can’t use it cause it’s like 150degree when you first use it the parents would have to help or leader or they can just heads it’s hot

Thanks for the offer.

You interested in volunteering?

Yea absolutely, and this is completely serious if I can make one with wood not used in the official kid, I remember doing this as a kid and it was pretty fun but as long as the rules are eased for someone who won’t be completing yea I have no issue helping out

1 Like

The rules clearly state ‘only parts from the scouts’ kits may be used’. You work with the wood block you’re given by the Scout.

I don’t remember if this was called pinewood derby or something else, but these are some cars I made when my daughter’s were in YMCA Indian Princess.

One of my buddies was using my belt sander and got mesmerized watching the wood disappear into the sanding belt and sanded past where the front axle mounts so we had to make a new chasis.


I know I meant helping out then making one of my own, out of different wood to just take home and out on a shelf, not compete with

1 Like

If we have spare derby kits, we will even let you have one for helping out.

I made one for myself, and since I don’t expect it to win, I am just trying to make something that stands out:


The LED strip even comes with a remote, and tons of lighting options.
I also wanted to put a motor in here somehow, but couldn’t find the space for it.

1 Like

Oh no I was gonna buy my kit it’s was just a joke cause the very strict rules about using the kit only it was like yea I’ll help out but only if I can break the one rule! But yea I was just wanting to make one out a different wood i dont feel like getting my car whooped by all theirs so I’d prefer it on a shelf

I’ll help out. I’ve put it on my calendar for 1:00PM. I am, of course, checked out on all the tools in the woodshop except the CNC and I’ve taken the course but just never did the checkout on it.

I’ve put it on my calendar.

1 Like

Super appreciate it good sir.

FYI, I have a few blocks for all the volunteers to practice tracing out the template and cutting. I also have a bunch of safety glasses for the kids.

I’d like to help out as well in any way I can. Fully checked out on everything except the MultiCAM. Looking forward to it.


1 Like