Pinewood Derby: An entrance ramp to woodworking
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.
The Paddy Wagon, replete with shamrocks, rainbow, and gold coins.
His first shave, and he's only 8. I didn't learn how to use a spokeshave until I was over 40.