Troop 501 Eagle Scouts

Andrew Jackson - 2011

Project: Recycle Bins at the World Bird Sanctuary

William "Billy" John Fisher, III - 2012

Project: Fire Truck Reading Center at Arnold Branch Library

Christopher "Blake" Hufford - 2013

Project: Flag Pole Installation and Beautification Project at New Hope United Methodist Church

Paul Morton Claeys - 2013

Project: Playground Renovation and Update; Construction and Installation of Benches at New Hope United Methodist Church's Preschool

Drew Vitello - 2014

Project: Development and Installation of interactive, 3-D, educational playground mural at New Hope United Methodist Church's Preschool

Totin’ Chip Course

What is the Totin’ Chip?

The Totin’ Chip is a card issued to a Scout authorizing him to use wood tools. It is like a license or permit that can be revoked if he fails to show proper responsibility.

Wood Tool:

Is any tool used to cut or work with wood. Additionally it could included other tools such as: shovels, hoes, rakes, picks and a variety of other hand tools.

BSA Has set the following requirements for the Totin’ Chip

  1. Read and understand woods tools use and safety rules found in the BS Handbook
  2. Demonstrate proper handling, care, and use of the Ax, Saw and Pocket Knife
  3. Use the Ax, Saw, and knife as tools not playthings
  4. Respect all safety rules to protect others
  5. Respect property. Cut only dead and living trees with permission and good reason
  6. Subscribe to the Outdoor Code

The Outdoor Code:

The Outdoor Code is a creed an oath to remind a Scout of the importance of caring for the environment.

    I will treat the outdoors as a heritage. I will take care of it for myself and others. I will keep my trash and garbage out of lakes, streams, fields, woods, and roadways.
    I will prevent wildfire. I will build my fires only where they are appropriate. When I have finished using a fire, I will make sure it is cold out. I will leave a clean fire ring, or remove all evidence of my fire.
    I will treat public and private property with respect. I will use low-impact methods of hiking and camping.
    I will learn to practice good conservation of soil, waters, forest, minerals, grasslands, wildfires, and energy. I will urge others to do the same.

Wood Tool Safety:

The most important thing when using any tool is – Safety, Safety, Safety.


  • Blood Circle – a method of safely moving the tool around you to determine if your work area is free of  obstacles that could cause potential problems.
  • Ax Yard – an Ax Yard is a marked off area, possibly with rope, to form a safety barrier. The idea is no one except the person using the tool is inside, this keeps other from being accidentally hit and or hurt.

Defining the Safety Circle

The circle is found by holding the blade of the cutting instrument (never the handle) in the hand used for cutting, and slowly swinging the arm in a 360° arc. The far end of the handle marks the limits of the circle. Any person or thing within this circle is considered to be at risk of injury. While it is never a good idea to enter another person’s blood circle, it is customarily the responsibility of the knife-holder to clear the circle, or to move if the circle cannot be cleared. Safety Circle

  • “Thank You” – the magic words of working with tools. If you decide to gave a tool to someone, you will not let go of it until the other person say “Thank You” letting you know that – that person has it and will not drop on you or anyone else.
  • Carrying the Tool – there are proper and not so hot ways to carry tools. For example a shovel should be carried at your side with your hand half way down the handle with the shove blade down but out in front of you. While a hand ax the blade is carried in the hand, and a large ax you carry with the blade facing the ground and your hand about halfway on the handle so that it is angled to the ground.Place a sheath over an ax blade whenever it is not in use.
    • Carry an ax at your side with one hand, the blade turned out from your body.
    • If you stumble, toss the ax away from you as you fall.
      Never carry an ax over your shoulder.
    • Safe storage, sheathe your ax and store it under the dining fly or in a tent.
    • On the trail, a sheathed ax can be tied or strapped to the outside of your pack.
    • This is the second most important thing when it comes to tools, safety being first.
  • If you are working in an unsecured area such as a trail use “Coming Through” and “Go For It”. “Coming Through” tells someone near by that you will be passing through his work space. “Go For It” tells you that person has acknowledged that you are there and has stopped working to let you safely pass through.
  • Gear – What type of gear should you have and or wear when working with these tools. For example if you are using an Ax shouldn’t you be wearing boots to protect your feet, long pants to protect your legs, long sleeve shirt to protect your chest and arms, gloves to protect your hands, goggles to keep flying wood out of your eyes, and a hard hat to keep a branch from knocking you silly. This may seem a little over kill and it might be, until one or all of these things could have save you from a lot of pain and your life.
  • Tool Wheel – The tool wheel is a method of storing all the tools in one place safely. You do this by laying tools down one after the other to form a circle, some tools are safer if standing up, place these in the center of the circle.

The Guide to Safe Scouting states


A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable backcountry tool. Keep it clean, sharp, and handy. Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward to carry, and unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish. Since its inception, Boy Scouting has relied heavily on an outdoor program to achieve its objectives. This program meets more of the purposes of Scouting than any other single feature. We believe we have a duty to instill in our members, youth and adult, the knowledge of how to use, handle, and store legally owned knives with the highest concern for safety and responsibility.

Remember—knives are not allowed on school premises, nor can they be taken aboard commercial aircraft.

Rules everyone should use when using any kind of hand tool:

  1. Always be safety conscious
  2. Select the right tool for the job
  3. Maintain a safe distance from others
  4. Be sure the tool is in good condition
  5. When not using the tool keep it in a safe place
  6. Use gloves and a hard hat
  7. Pass the tool to another person with the cutting edge down or away from anyone
  8. Mark tools that are damaged clearly so no one else tries to use them
  9. Never throw or run with a tool
  10. When you are carrying a tool on flat ground carry it in your primary hand and if your on a slop carry on the downhill side
  11. Be sure of your footing when using tools

Remember safety first, and safety always!

When used improperly tools can be very dangerous. We can replace tools but we cannot replace eyes, arms, legs or people…

Tool Care

This is the second most important thing when it comes to tools, safety being first. If your tool is not in good working order, it could result in great injury to those around you.

The first part to caring or repairing anything is to know its parts.

axparts knife


There are many things that could go wrong with a tool, the chart below outlines a few of them:

The Problem

How to Fix

Dull Sharpen the blade. Also remember things like shovels, hoes and McLeods need to be kept sharp, too. (FMI “Sharpen you knife”)
Loose Head and Handle Check handle to make sure it is still in good shape, including its strength. If it still seems to be in good shape tighten the head by adding a wedge into the spot where the handle meets the tool. Soaking it in water works for a short time.
Loose Knife Blade If the knife is in good condition, but the blade is lose, in other words while holding the knife in one hand and the tip of the blade in the other hand you can wiggle the blade. To fix, place the rivet of that blade on a hard (preferably metal) surface and lightly tap the rivet with a hammer 2 or 3 times. Be careful not to damage the knife.
Tool is Dirty and Rusty Clean the bulk of the dirt off with a wire brush and maybe some water. Use a clean rag to get the rest of the dirt off. If the tool is rusty use some oil like 3 in one or WD40 and sandpaper to get it off. Dry the tool and place a good thick layer of oil on it. Paint may help protect the tool. For small tools, like a knife, use Q-tips and oil to clean.
Broken Handle To replace a broken or weak handle, you must first work the old handle out of the tool – this is the hardest part. I have found using a drill to remove the center of the handle works the best. Clean inside the “eye” (where handle and tool meet). Try to insert the handle – it will probably be to big, if it is whittle it away little at a time until it fits snugly. Once the handle is in the tool, secure it with a wedge.
Weakened Tool If it is a replaceable part – the replace it, otherwise safely discard the tool and replace it.

Sharpening a Knife

Sharpen your knife with a whetstone (a sharpening stone). Depending on the stone, will depend if you leave it dry, use a little water, or a tad of oil. Top sharpen a knife, hold the blade against the stone at about a 30 degree angle. That means that back of the blade will be tilted of the stone one-third of the way to vertical. Push the blade along the stone as though your slicing a layer off the top of the stone. Make sure you sharpen each side of the blade the same number of times, to make the blade as sharp and durable as possible. Then whip the knife off with a clean cloth, and you’re done. The below graphic might help you.
Getting a feel for the common problems of a tool makes you wonder why most people don’t check their tool before using it. Always inspect the tool before using it.  Use the 4 S’s which are:

  • STRAIGHTNESS – Hold the tool upright, and look down it’s handle is it straight? A warped handle can be dangerous.
  • SMOOTHNESS – Carefully run your hand down the handle making sure there are no rough spots or splinters.
  • SET the head of the tool on the ground at a 45 degree angle and left the butt of the handle, and then press it down in the middle of the handle. If the handle doesn’t crack or bend it is fine.
  • SHARPNESS – Check for sharpness visually. When a tool is sharp the cutting edge is shinny and smooth. NEVER RUN YOUR HAND ALONG THE BLADE.

How to use the tools
Using the tool is probably the most thought of part, but as you have seen it is not the first all though it is equally important with the other parts. We all know that when you are using a knife you always cut away from yourself, when using an ax you cut at an angle to form a “V” in the wood, and when using a saw you cut in long even strokes with the front part of the blade lower then the back.

Camp Saw

A camp saw is the right tool for most outdoor woodcutting. The blades of folding saws close into their handles, much like the blades of pocketknives. Bow saws have curved metal frames that hold their blades in place.

Saw Safety

Saw teeth are needle-sharp. Treat every saw with the same respect you give your pocketknife. Close folding saws when they aren’t in use and store them in a tent or under the dining fly. Protect the blade of a bow saw with a sheath made from a piece of old garden hose the length of the blade. Slit the hose down on one side, slip it over the blade, and hold it in place with duct tape or cord. You can carry a folded camp saw inside your pack. With its sheath covering the blade, tie a bow saw flat against the outside of your pack.

Using a Camp Camp SawSaw

  • Brace the wood to be cut against a solid support.
  • Use long, smooth strokes that let the weight of the saw pull the blade into the wood.
  • When sawing a dead branch from a tree, make an undercut first, then saw from the top down. The undercut prevents the falling branch from stripping bark and wood from the trunk.
  • Make a clean cut close to the trunk so you don’t leave an unsightly “hat rack.”

Cut saplings level with the ground so there’s no stumps for someone to trip over. After learning about how to use the tool safely and care for it you must Demonstrate your ability to use the tools. This not only gives you hands on experience, it gives you a chance to correct any problems you might have in using the tools.


What happens if you do something wrong

If someone is using the tool incorrectly there is few things you can do depending on the severity of the problem. Of course the first thing to do is stop it right there and then.

  • You may have a corner on your Totin’ Chip removed, for normal problems
  • You may have up to 4 corners removed, depending on the severity of the problem
  • Once the individual has lost all 4 corners that individual has lost the right to use any tools, until he has re-earned the Totin’ Chip. Each unit has its own way of doing this, the most common being just retaking the course (this is the BSA recommend method), or some other units make the individual teach the course.

 The Totin’ Patch

The Totin Patch is NOT to be worn on your Class A Uniform, it’s for your patch collection.

Totin’ Chip Test
Based on information found in the Boy Scout Handbook.

Name:                                                                                        Date:
Patrol:                                                                                       Score:

1.) Always use (how many) __________ hands to close a pocket knife.

2.) Cut _____________ from you to prevent injury.

3.) What should be done with the blade before passing it to a friend? ___________________

4.) A sharp knife is easier to control then a dull one. True or False? ____________________

5.) Keep your knife sharp and ________________.

6.) The Boy Scouts of America does not encourage the use of __________________ knives.

7.) Sharpen your knife on a ________________ holding the knife at what angle? ________


8.) Name two types of camp saws. a) ________________ b) ____________________

9.) Wear ___________ and protective _______________ when using a saw or ax.

10.) When sawing a branch from a tree, first make an ___________________, then saw from the top

11.) When not in use the saw blade should be ______________________.

12.) What is the “set” of the saw blade? _______________________________________.

13.) Use ___________, smooth strokes when sawing.


14.) Name the parts of an ax.

15.) Do not use the ax if the head is __________ or __________.

16.) How much clearance should you have when using an ax?


17.) Always keep an ax ____________________ when not in use.

18.) Chopping branches off a log is called ______________________________.

Cutting a log to lengths is called _________________________________.

19.) Explain the contact method of using an ax.



20.) Hand an ax to another person by holding the handle with the ax head _____________.

21.) Sharpen an ax with a _______________ file and make sure it has a ___________ guard.

22.) When bucking a log, make should that you aim your blows so that you cut a V-shape that is

____________ as wide at the top as the log is ______________.

General Stuff.

23.) List two reasons why cutting tools should not be left lying around.



24.) Respect property. Cut living and dead trees only with ____________ and good ________.


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