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How to make your own Wooden Plaques and Trophies for Cub Scouts

Tutorial for making Cub Scout Arrow of Light Award Plaques
and Pinewood Derby Award Trophies!  
I was asked to be a Cub Scout Bear Den Leader for the boys in my church.  When I started I had no clue what I was doing. Even though I’m a girl and this might seem like a guys job, I took on the task of making the Arrow of Light awards and Pinewood Derby trophies myself!  I first wanted to make this tutorial for the ladies in my Pack who might want to take over this job when I’m gone, but there are probably many people who may be interested in knowing how to make these themselves.  Good luck and have fun working with your boys!
Here’s what you’ll need for the Arrow of Light Plaques (excludes arrow):
MATERIALS (makes 3 Plaques):
  • Pine Board (size 1″x 6″x8′)
  • Wood Stain (Optional)
  • Polyurethane Finish
  • Foam Brushes
  • 6 (7/8-inch) Brass Cup Hooks
  • 6 Self Leveling Picture Hangers (Optional)
  • 3 Arrows cut out of Vinyl (Order HERE) (Download digital pattern HERE)
  • Custom Metal Nameplate (Size 3″-wide x 1 1/4″- tall) (Order HERE)
  • Tape Measure + Pencil
  • Saw
  • Power Sander + Fine & Coarse Sandpaper
  • Drill + Drill Bits
Here’s what you’ll need for the Pinewood Derby Trophies:


MATERIALS (makes 10 Trophies):
  • Pine Board (size 1″x 6″x8′)
  • Wood Stain (Optional)
  • Polyurethane Finish
  • Foam Brushes
  • 20 wood screws
  • Custom Metal Nameplates (Size 3 3/4″-wide x 4 1/2″- tall) (Order HERE) (Get idea HERE)
  • Tape Measure + Pencil
  • Power Saw
  • Sander + Fine & Coarse Sandpaper
  • Drill + Drill Bits 

 Set up your workspace.
My only option is a wooden table outside of our apartment complex area – I’m sure my neighbors get annoyed whenever I pull out my power tools!

ARROW OF LIGHT: Mark your pine board so you get 3 pieces that are 29″-long.  Cut pieces with saw.

 TROPHIES: Mark your pine board so you get 10 pieces 4 1/2″-wide (main pieces) and 10 pieces 2″-wide (for base).  Cut pieces with saw.

Next, use your power sander (with coarse paper) to soften all the edges. Notice the difference between the top and bottom pieces!

TROPHIES: Drill holes for your screws in the main (on the 4 1/2″side) and base pieces (on the large flat side).  Screw your screws in the base pieces just until they poke out a little – this makes it easy to match up the holes to the main pieces.  Now you can screw the screws through both pieces together.

Put away all your tools and get ready to stain and finish your wood!  Stain is optional but makes the wood look really nice.

If you are staining your PLAQUES and TROPHIES it’s really easy!  Just dip a paper towel in the can of stain and generously coat all surfaces of your wood.  This gets really messy so be sure to wear gloves.  Wait about 5 minutes and wipe off any remaining stain.

They’re looking really nice, but not quite finished.

ARROW OF LIGHT: Center the vinyl arrows over plaques and press firmly.  Use a credit card or hard-flat surface to scrape over the vinyl to eliminate any bubbles or creases.
 Pull the sticky paper off the vinyl and you’re ready for a clear coat!

Follow the directions off the back of the polyurethane.  I’ve found it best to use a foam brush rather then a regular brush because it doesn’t leave as many streaks.

Make sure there are no drips or bubbles in the finish because when it dries it is really noticeable!
The directions for the polyurethane I used said to do 3 coats, and to sand (with fine paper) in-between the 1st and 2nd coats.  It’s time consuming but the finished product turns out beautiful!

ARROW OF LIGHT: Drill two holes through the center of the vinyl arrow and screw cup hooks in.

ARROW OF LIGHT: If you want your Cub Scout to be able to hang his award, you’ll want to add some hangers on the back.  I use pictures hangers and hammer one on each end towards the top.

ARROW OF LIGHT: Assemble your arrow kit (you can buy at the Scout Office) and place over cup hooks.  Turn the cup hooks inward so they clamp down on the arrow to prevent it from shifting around.

I don’t have a picture for the nameplates that I have put on the ARROW OF LIGHT awards, but they look just like these but smaller.  I attach the name plates under the arrow.  As for the TROPHIES, I ordered 10 nameplates (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for the Wolf, Bear, and Webelo Dens, and a Best-In-Show).

The nameplates come with a sticky foam strip on the back that stick right to the wood.

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  • Reply Andrew and Melissa

    Impressive work, quite an ambitious project as well.

    February 28, 2013 at 7:21 am
  • Reply Britt-Marie

    you are amazing!

    February 28, 2013 at 7:21 am
  • Reply Brooke

    I just found you via google. You are amazing! Thank you for posting this.

    February 28, 2013 at 7:21 am
  • Reply karla

    this looks great . thanks for the tutorial.

    February 28, 2013 at 7:21 am
  • Reply Stacey

    If you don't mind me asking, what did you use to cut out the arrow of light?

    February 28, 2013 at 7:21 am
  • Reply Dani

    Sorry I didn't see your question before! I ordered the vinyl arrow of light, here:

    January 12, 2015 at 10:56 am
  • Reply Steph Smith

    Cute! My niece and the neighborhood kids have a party going on that includes winning trophies. This is a fantastic idea to save money and make something unique. I know what I'll be doing this weekend, thanks so much for sharing 🙂 Trophies

    June 9, 2015 at 4:30 pm
  • Reply Unknown

    Hi! Your link to the vinyls cutouts is no longer active. Do you have current information or could you at least include the size that you made the cutouts?

    February 26, 2018 at 8:55 am
  • Reply Courtney Dairman

    Your link to the metal plates just keeps taking me back to the original page about the AOL and Pinewood Derby. Do you still have a name/company/link to use to order the metal awards plates for Pinewood Derby? Thank you.

    February 27, 2019 at 6:35 pm
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