Syllabus for Totin' Chip

Basic Wood Tool Safety and Definitions

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

The Guide to Safe Scouting states "A pocket knife ... is an invaluable backcountry tool. Keep it clean. Avoid sheath knives... 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 they any other single feature. We believe we have a duty to instill in our members, the knowledge of how to use, handle, and store legally owned knives with the highest concerns for safety and responsibility.

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...

Upon completion of the lesson, the scout should have obtained the knowledge of:

  1. How to select, care for, sharpen, and use a pocket knife.
  2. How to use and care for a camp saw.
  3. How to care for, identify the part of, sharpen, and use an axe.
  4. Will demonstrate the use of a pocket knife, camp saw, and axe.
  5. Will demonstrate the sharpening of a knife and axe.
  6. Safety expectations when using all camp tools.
Pocket Knife
Selecting a pocket knife.
  1. Should have a minimum of; 1 or 2 cutting blades, can opener, flat bladed screwdriver.
  2. A locking devise for all cutting blades.
  3. Should be made of a material which will not rust. i.e.; Stainless steel
  4. More accessories are not usually good.
Care of the pocket knife
  1. Wash with soap and water, and rinse after using to cut food, make sure to dry.
  2. Keep inside clean of dirt.
  a. Open all blades and accessories.
  b. Using a toothpick and a small patch of lightly oiled rag, clean the blade storage area.
  c. Using a light oil, slightly oil all hinges.
Do's for pocket knives.
  1. Keep blades closed except for when using them.
  2. Keep your fingers clear of the sharp edge as you open and close the blade.
  3. Cut away from your body.
  4. Close the blades before you pass the knife to someone else.
  5. Keep the knife sharp and clean. A sharp blade is easier to control then a dull one.
  6. Obey any school regulation that prohibits carrying knives on school property.
Don't for pocket knives.
  1. Don't carry any knife with the blade open
  2. Don't throw a knife.
  3. Don't cut toward yourself, or toward anyone else.
  4. Don't strike a knife with any other tool or pry with the point of a cutting blade.
Sharpening of knives.
  1. Use a whetstone or oilstone.
  2. Hold the blade at a 30 degree angle to the stone, 1/3 from vertical.
  3. Using a circular motion move the blade around the stone using moderate pressure.
  4. Wipe the blade clean with a cloth.
  a. When looking straight onto the blade in sunlight or a bright light a dull blade will look shiny. A sharp blade will have no shine at all.
  1. Using a whetstone or oilstone, demonstrate the proper method of sharpening at least one blade.
  2. Using proper technique and safety, have the student demonstrate how to make a fuzzy stick, using his pocket knife.
Camp Saw
A. Camp saw is the proper tool for most outdoors wood cutting.
B. Types of saws.
  Folding saw has a blade that folds into the handle of the saw.
  Bow saw has a metal frame that the blade is tightly suspended between.
C. When cutting downed wood (firewood).
  Brace the piece of wood against a chopping block, sawhorse, or other solid support.
  Use long, smooth strokes.
  Let the weight of the saw pull the blade into the wood.
D. When cutting standing wood (Tree trimming).
  Never cut from a live tree without the permission of the ranger, property owner, property manager, or scoutmaster.
  First make an undercut on the bottom of the limb to be cut, then cut from the top. This will keep the saw from binding and bark stripping.
  Cut close to the tree trunk.
  When cutting saplings cut close to the ground.
E. Do's for camp saws.
  Do keep the saw sheathed whenever it is not in use.
  Do Carry a saw with the blade turned away from your body.
  Do replace blades when they become dull. Sharp saws are easier to use and control.
  Do use care when passing a saw to another person.
  Always turn the blade away from both persons.
  Do Wear gloves and protective eyewear whenever using a camp saw.
F. Don't for camp saws.
  Don't cut any trees, alive or dead with permission.
  Don't allow the saw's blade to cut into the ground. Soil and rocks will quickly dull the teeth.
  Don't leave a saw lying around camp.
  Note: Always sheathe and put away the saw, gloves, and eye protection when finished.
G. Demonstrate the proper and safe way to cut firewood of at least 3 inch diameter.
The Axe
An axe must be in top condition. If the head is loose, handle is cracked, or the blade is dull, DON'T USE IT.
  Parts of the axe.
  1. Handle
  2. Belly
  3. Knob or Deer's foot
  4. Butt or pell
  5. Back
  6. Front
  7. Face
  8. Toe
  9. Heel
  10. Bit
  Swing of the axe.
  1. Wear gloves and protective eyewear whenever using an axe.
  2. Securely hold the belly of the handle in one hand, (right handed people hold with the left hand).
  3. With the other hand grasp the handle just under the head of the axe.
  4. Position the axe about eye level.
  5. Bring the axe down with a smooth motion allowing the upper hand to slide down the axe handle to meet the stationary hand which on the belly of the handle.
  6. Allow the weight of the axe to do the cutting.
  1. Cutting branches off a log.
  2. Stand on the opposite side of the log as the limb to be removed is.
  3. Cut close to the log.
  4. Keep the log between you and your cuts.
  Cutting through a log.
  Cut a "V" notch twice the width at the top as the log is thick.
  Use proper swinging technique.
  Keep you eye on the spot you wish to cut.
  Use a chopping block. Flat wooden surface.
  Stand the log to be split on the chopping block.
  Select an age crack.
  a. An age crack is a natural split through the diameter of a log caused by the drying of the wood.
  Using proper swinging technique bring the axe down striking the log at the age crack.
  Remove the log from the axe, reposition on the chopping block, and use the swinging technique again.
  Select an age crack.
  Never swing the axe while the log is still attached to the blade.
  Contact method for stick splitting.
  Used to split a small stick of wood.
  Best to use a hand axe.
  a. Place the bit of the axe against the end of the stick.
  b. Bring the axe and stick down together against the chopping block.
  c. Twist the axe to break the pieces of the stick apart.
  Carrying of the axe.
  Always place the sheath on the axe before carrying.
  Grasp the axe by the handle just under the head of the axe.
  Carry the axe with the blade turned away from yourself.
  Never carry and axe over your shoulder.
  Passing the axe.
  Always place the sheath on the axe before passing it to another person.
  Grasp the axe by the knob of the handle.
  Turn the blade away from the two persons. To the outside.
  "Thank you, I have it". The receiving person always uses the line, "Thank you, I have it" before the axe is released to him. This is an indication that he has total control of the camp tool.
  Sharpening the axe.
  Use a 8 or 10 inch mill bastard file to sharpen the axe.
  Wear leather gloves to protect your hands and use a knuckle guard on the file.
  Place the axe head against a log of about 6 inches diameter. Use 2 pegs or tent stakes to secure it at the butt.
  Place the file at a 30 degree angle against the blade and push it into the bit.
  Sharpen with firm, even strokes.
  Lift the file from the bit when recovering from a stroke.
  Turn the axe around and sharpen the other side of the bit.
  a. When looking straight onto the bit in sunlight or a bright light a dull blade will look shiny. A sharp blade will have no shine at all.
  Do's for axes.
  Do keep the axe sheathed whenever it is not in use.
  Do Carry an axe by the handle just under the axe head, and with the blade turned away from your body.
  Do keep your axe sharp. Sharp axes are easier to use and control.
  Do use care when passing an axe to another person. Always turn the blade away from both persons.
  Do Wear gloves and protective eyewear whenever using an axe.
  Don't for axes.
  Don't cut any trees, alive or dead with permission.
  Don't allow the axe blade to cut into the ground. Soil and rocks will quickly dull the axe.
  Don't leave an axe lying around camp.
  Using a mill bastard file, have the student demonstrate the proper method of sharpening.
  Using proper technique and safety, have the student demonstrate limbing, bucking, and splitting wood.
  Using proper technique and safety, have the student demonstrate the proper carrying and passing of an axe.
Safe work area.
A. Emphasize the fact that the pocket knife, saw, and axe are TOOLS not play things.
B. A safe work area is a necessity for use of an axe and saw.
C. A safe work area consists of:
  An area which is free of brush and branches.
  An area which is at least 10 feet in diameter.
  An area which provides all the safety equipment necessary, gloves, eye protection, tool storage.
  Only the person operating the camp tools is allowed in the safety area or Axe Yard.
  When finished the safety area is cleaned of all wood chips, bark, and other debris.
  Make sure that all tools are properly stored when finished.
D. Axe Yard
  a. On long term camps or when lots of fire wood is required, construct an axe yard. Rope off an area large enough to provide a safe working area.
  Only enter the axe yard to saw or chop wood. Again apply all rules to the axe yard as you do to the safe working area.

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.

There is many things that could go wrong with a tool, the bellow chart outlines a few of them.
The Problem The Fix
Dull Sharpen the blade. Also remember things like shovels, hoes and McLeods need to be kept sharp, too.
Lose Head Check handle to make sure it is still in good shape, including its strength. If it still seems and Handle 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.
Lose Knife If the knife is in good condition, but the blade is lose, in other words while holding the Blade 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 Clean the bulk of the dirt off with a wire brush and maybe some water. Use a clean rag to Dirty and get the rest of the dirt off. If the tool is rusty use some oil like 3 in one or WD40 and Rusty 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 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.

Most of us know how to properly sharpen a knife, but here is a bit from the Official Boy Scout Handbook to help us remember.
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 wipe the knife off with a clean cloth, and your 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. The California Conservation Corps suggest you inspect the tool before using it. They use the 4 S's which are:
  Hold the tool upright, and look down it's handle is it straight? A warped handle can be dangerous.
  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.
  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.

After teaching about how to use the tool safely and care for it have everyone demonstrate their ability to use the tools. This not only gives them hands on experience, it give you a chance to correct any problems they 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. What can you do to the individual:
  • You may remove a corner on the Totin' Chip, for normal problems
  • You may remove 1 to 4 corners 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.