Scouting magazine Exit Reader Mode

Understanding BSA awards that help teach knife safety

“A pocketknife is a useful tool to have for Scouting activities,” the Bear Handbook says. “It can also be dangerous if you don’t use it the right way.”

That wisdom, which also applies to saws and axes, is the reason smart Scouters emphasize the Whittling Chip, Totin’ Chip and Paul Bunyan Woodsman award in their units. Here’s an introduction to these important safety programs.

WHAT IS THE WHITTLING CHIP? The Whittling Chip (No. 34398; No. 34223 for a sheet of eight) is a card Bear Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts can earn by learning about knife safety. It gives them the approval to carry pocketknives on designated Cub Scout activities.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS? To earn the Whittling Chip, a boy must learn knife safety rules, show that he can care for and use a pocketknife, make a carving with a pocketknife, and promise to abide by safety rules and the pocketknife pledge.

HOW DOES THE WHITTLING CHIP RELATE TO CUB SCOUT ADVANCEMENT? Earning the Whittling Chip is part of the Bear Claws adventure (Bear) and the Scouting adventure (Arrow of Light).

WHAT IS THE TOTIN’ CHIP? The Totin’ Chip (No. 34397; No. 34234 for a sheet of eight) is a card Boy Scouts can earn for learning about the proper use of pocketknives, axes and saws. It gives them the approval to carry pocketknives on designated Boy Scout activities.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS? To earn the Totin’ Chip, a Boy Scout must read and understand the information in the Boy Scout Handbook about woods tools use and safety, demonstrate proper handling of woods tools, respect safety rules, respect property and subscribe to the Outdoor Code.

HOW DOES THE TOTIN’ CHIP RELATE TO BOY SCOUT ADVANCEMENT? Scouts don’t have to earn the Totin’ Chip to advance.

I’VE SEEN WHITTLING CHIP AND TOTIN’ CHIP PATCHES ON UNIFORMS. WHAT ARE THESE FOR? Units can present the Whittling Chip emblem (No. 8598) and the Totin’ Chip emblem (No. 8597), but these are not intended for uniform wear.

IS IT OK TO CUT CORNERS ON A TOTIN’ CHIP WHEN A SCOUT MISUSES A KNIFE? Each pack and troop sets its own standard for violations of safety rules. The important thing is to correct unsafe behavior, not to embarrass a Scout.

WHAT IS THE PAUL BUNYAN WOODSMAN? The Paul Bunyan Woodsman is an award Boy Scouts can earn for excelling in the use of woods tools.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS? The Scout must earn the Totin’ Chip, help another Scout or patrol earn the Totin’ Chip, demonstrate the value of proper tool use on a troop camping trip and complete a conservation project that involves the use of tools.

WHAT RECOGNITION ITEMS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE PAUL BUNYAN WOODSMAN? Scouts can receive a pocket certificate (No. 34395) and an emblem (No. 98). The emblem is not intended for uniform wear.

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION? For complete requirements and to learn about other BSA awards, visit Awards Central at