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How to raise a wheel on a pinewood derby car. It's as easy as ABC! 

Example of pinewood car








Make a fast food pinewood derby car the next time that you go out to eat.

How To Raise A Wheel On A Pinewood Derby Car

Your pinewood derby car will run faster if one of the front wheels is raised. Some race rules specify that all four wheels must touch the track so read your rules before following the steps on this page.

Some blocks are slightly warped and will naturally have a raised wheel. Before raising a wheel, mount the four wheels on your block and check for a raised wheel. Push the car on a flat surface. If one of the wheels doesn't turn while the car is moving then you have a raised wheel car and you don't need to follow these instructions. Even if all the wheels turn when you push your car, you may still have a wheel that is slightly higher than the rest. Place your car on a flat surface then press down on each of the front corners of the car in turn with your finger.  If the corner moves down as you press then the wheel on that corner is higher and it should be the wheel that you raise.

Before you begin, decide which side of the pinewood derby car should have the raised wheel. You will want the car to steer slightly toward the raised wheel so draw a straight line on a flat surface then push your car (with all four wheels attached) down the line. The car will drift to one side of the line. The side of the line that the car is drifting to is the side of the car that should have the raised wheel. For example, if the car drifts to the right then raise the front right wheel.

You will need:

  • One flat toothpick
  • Wood or paper glue
  • Credit card

If you don't have a flat toothpick, you can sand down a round toothpick until it is flat. You can also use a small diameter wire or string.

Our Axle Installer will make this procedure easier and can be ordered at the bottom of this page.

Toothpick for raising a pinewood derby car wheel.

1. Spin all of your wheels on an axle. Use the slowest wheel (the one that spins for the shortest time) on the raised axle.
2. Cut off 1/2" from the small end of the toothpick. This is the part that you will use. Discard the rest of the toothpick.

Place the toothpick in the front axle slot.

3.Glue the toothpick in the bottom of the front slot on the side that you want the wheel to touch the track. The end of the toothpick should not quite reach the side of the block.  Use the credit card to firmly press the toothpick into the slot.  Let dry.
4. Add another drop of glue in the slot about 1/4" from the block side. This will help hold the axle in place.

5. Insert the axle installer all the way in the slot. The end of the axle installer should be flush with the side of the block.

6. Press your thumb on the axle installer and start the axle into the slot between the toothpick and axle installer. Stop after about 1/8".  The axle installer will raise up slightly as you push the axle in.

7. Place the wheel on the axle installer base then slowly press down on the car block while holding your thumb against the axle installer. You may need to wiggle the block a little when starting to make sure that the axle goes in straight. Push the axle all the way in. The axle installer will automatically set the proper gap.

8. Check that the wheel opposite from the side with the toothpick is now raised. If it still turns when you push the car, repeat this procedure by adding another toothpick.

9. Place a drop of glue on the axle, keeping the glue away from the wheel.

Pinewood Derby Axle Installer
Axle Installer

Axle Installers