Cub car wheel nailing jig

My friend Alan McKay comes to my shop every year to cut out cub cars for the cub scouts.

They consist of a block of wood that is shaped and decorated to whatever the kids want, with wheels attached with nails that are driven into slots in the bottom of the block. The tricky part can be nailing the wheels on exactly straight. I came up with a simple jig for this, so I figured, "why not make a video..."

Alan usually comes with a friend, and they cut cub cars using two of my bandsaws. For this video, Alan came back with his kids, who were noisily exploring the shop while Alan cut out another cub car. I usually turn off the furnace while I'm filming to cut down on noise, but with the kids roaming around, that would have been pointless.

A wood shop has too many toys to tempt boys with!

So here's the cut out cub car, and my nailing jig.

Normally, the cub cars are painted before nailing the wheels on, but we wanted to test the jig.

The nailing jig consists of a block of hardwood with a ridge along one face of it. I oriented the grain so that the ridge is on the end-grain side to make it strong.

People have suggested to just pre-drill the holes, but the cub cars kits come with the slots already cut. Although, alternatively, the block could be flipped upside down so that the slots are in the cut-away parts on top, and pilot holes drilled instead.

With the block clamped on, there is only a narrow channel where the nail can go. This ensures the nail goes in straight.

Without the jig, sometimes the growth rings will pull the nail to the side, even if it was started out straight.

Nailing on the wheel

I also showed Alan's kids my marble machine 2.1. I briefly had the idea of letting them play with that while Alan and I made video, but the machine is so loud, even in the next room, that it was better to let them roam the shop.

I also had an idea for how a "suspension" could be added to a cub car, by cutting around the wheel mount so the strip of wood flexes. A suspension can help a car roll better and use less energy on an uneven track or uneven wheels. But never having experimented with cub cars, I can't say for sure if this would help.

Update: Apparently, something similar has been done before, and it does help:

A video by Alan McKay showing the cub cars in action.

More kid's toy creations:

More toy creations on my woodworking website.