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Pinewood Derby: An entrance ramp to woodworking

comments (3) March 24th, 2009 in blogs

Tom Tom McKenna, Managing Editor
thumbs up 102 users recommend

His first shave, and hes only 8. I didnt learn how to use a spokeshave until I was over 40.
The Paddy Wagon, replete with shamrocks, rainbow, and gold coins.
His first shave, and hes only 8. I didnt learn how to use a spokeshave until I was over 40. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

His first shave, and he's only 8. I didn't learn how to use a spokeshave until I was over 40.

My son, Ryan, is in the Cub Scouts (shout out to Pack 26, Wallingford, CT!), and last week the pack had its annual Pinewood Derby race. It's a fun event, meant for parents and kids to bond while building a wooden race car from a kit. There are some building guidelines regarding the weight, length, and width of the car, and you must use the axles and wheels made for the kit. Other than that, though, there's no limit to the design.

I especially enjoy the event, because it gets me into the shop, and it allows me to teach Ryan some basic woodworking. Last year, I taught him how to hold and use a chisel to clean out a mortise. This year, I taught him how to use a spokeshave to shape the curved portion of the car. He had a blast, and within minutes he was covered in pine shavings. 

I'm hoping it's an avenue for him to begin an exploration of woodworking, and to keep a tradition alive. To me, the ability to use tools correctly and safely is an important part of life, whether it's for home repair or for making furniture. It's a step toward self-sufficiency and independence.

We have a few more years of this Pinewood Derby thing, and once he's moved on, I hope that we can continue to share time in my basement shop, making stuff for his mom, grandparents, sister, cousins, or even for himself. It's such a wonderful way to spend time with him. Sometimes words are replaced by the sound of tools, but the words are unimportant. I just glance at his smiling face and hope the joyful tears welling up in my eyes won't drop on my workpiece and raise the grain too much. 

posted in: blogs, pine, paint, cub scouts, spokeshave, derby

Comments (3)

halhomer halhomer writes: We did have an "Outlaw " racing class of cars.
The Adults had fun and the Cubs had a great time watching the funny cars. The best was an 11" tall (you know the old kind) GI JOE riding a snowboard while standing up.

It never made it the full length of the track but some day a grandpa is going to say,"I remember when I was little a man made a snowboarder........
Posted: 8:14 am on April 1st

Tom Tom writes: I'd join that league...
Posted: 9:03 am on March 25th

Jammersix Jammersix writes: I've always thought they should have an Adult Unlimited Pinewood Derby, for those of us who are still eight in our minds, but are adults as far as our pocketbooks and shops are concerned.
Posted: 10:54 pm on March 24th

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