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Polish your pinewood derby axles. It's as easy as ABC! 

Example of pinewood car

Tip #12

The head of the axle should be tapered about 15 degrees to reduce friction between it and the wheel hub.

Tip #60

Many wait until the last minute to start working on their Pinewood Derby car. Start at least two weeks before the race. This will give you time if the unexpected happens and you will enjoy building the car more.

How to Use Our Axle Polishing Kit

Pinewood Derby Axle Polishing Kit

Proper polishing of your Pinewood Derby axles will make a big difference in the speed of your car. Follow these easy steps and you will have winning axles in no time.  This kit has enough material to prepare eight axles.

This kit includes:

  • Needle File
  • Two stripes of #400 sandpaper
  • Two stripes of #1200 sandpaper
  • Axle Polish
  • Instructions

You will also need:

  • Clean cloth rag
  • Drill
  • Marker


Misshaped pinewood derby axle

1. The first step is to inspect your axles for obvious flaws. Look for deep scratches and a misshaped axle head.  Replace any bad axles with new ones.

Check that axle is straight

2. Mount an axle on a drill.  Turn the drill on and watch the axle head. It should be steady. If the head vibrates or wobbles, your axle is not straight. Replace the axle or use our Pro Axle Press to straighten the axle.  Repeat for all the axles.

Remove burr and crimp marks

Now you should have four good axles. The goal is to remove the crimp marks on the axle shaft and the burrs on the axle head then give the axle a good polishing.

Mark the axle

3. Use a marker pen and mark the crimp marks on the axle. Be sure to mark the crimp marks on both sides of the shaft.  This is the area that you will be removing with the file.  Let the ink dry.

The following steps takes two people. One person should hold the drill and the other person will do the filing and polishing.  Note: This kit contains two nail files. Nail files are ideal for preparing the axles but they wear out fast. Each file should be able to prepare four axles.
File the axle  Taper the axle head

4. Mount the axle on the drill.  Leave at least ½” of axle exposed.  Move the file so the flat side of the file is flush with the axle head as shown. Turn the drill on and move the file slowly against the axle head until the burrs have been removed and the head is smooth.  Next, tilt the file slightly as shown above and file again until the head has a very slight taper. Don't use any more than1/4 of the file edge surface for this procedure so that you have enough file remaining for the other axles.

5. Place the file flat on the axle shaft. Turn the drill on and move the file slowly against the axle until the area marked in step 3 has been removed and the axle is smooth.

Mark the sandpaper

6. Now you are going to polish the axle with the sandpaper. Use the #400 sandpaper first. It has a red mark on the back.

Polish the axle

7. Dip the sandpaper strip into a glass of water. Hold each end of the strip with each hand. Use about 1/2” of new paper to sand the axle for about 15 seconds at low speed.

8.  Repeat using the #1200 sandpaper (no red mark on the back).

9. Dry the axle with a soft cloth.

Cut cloth strips

10. Cut three 8” by 1” strips from an old t-shirt or other light cloth.

Apply polish to cloth

11. Spread a very thin layer of the axle polish on a 4” center section of one of the cloth strips.

Polish the axle

12. Hold each end of the cloth strip and place the center of the strip under the axle shaft using moderate pressure. Turn the drill on and spin the axle while slowly moving the cloth about one inch for about 10 seconds.


13. If done right, there should be a dark residue on the cloth.

Clean the axle

14. Using the same method, take one of the clean cloth strips and clean the axle of any excess polish.

15. Repeat for the other axles.

Axle Polishing Kit

Axle Polishing Kits

Pinewood Derby Winner

Cole Branson age 11 years - car designer and builder - "Natural Wood Wild Wedge"  (5 OZ)
2014 won at Kent Pack #11 Pinewood
and placed second at the District


This is his third race, 1st race he won 1st in the tigers, 1st overall in pack, and for the district race, won 1st in tigers, 2nd over all out of over 100 pinewood cars!!!!!!..last year he won 1st in the bears, second overall in pack, district race he won 1st in the bears, and 3rd overall!!!!!!so pretty good track record! I try not to get to excited, but all I can think of is the movie down and derby! Hahahaha..Thnx again ...Eric
We blew the wheels off the competition...Wow
...Kristine H.