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I recently was watching a Youtube video getting ideas for teaching my Bear Den knife safety. In this video the person said that if a Scout is not safe with a knife you can cut a corner off. Once all 4 corners are gone, they lose their Whitling Chip. Everything I read, it says that we do not cut corners that they lose it the first time. What is correct? I am training on a BALOO course in a few weeks and need to be able to address this issue.

I believe the official BALOO training says that is not acceptable for Cubs.

For Scouts, there is a Bryan on Scouting that says there is no national policy one way or the other.

My opinion is that if a Scout is doing something dangerous enough for a corner, please take their knife away for an hour, the day, the weekend. If a Scout needs minor correct, make that minor correction and move on.


We used to do that.

I am unsure about any official position, but I would think that especially with Cub Scouts that safety is paramount–therefore if a Cub Scout hasn’t developed the habits of safe knife usage, then the supervision and safe use of a knife could be removed under the guidance of the adult leader.

However, the BSA web pages have no reference to “losing” the award. My personal opinion is that these measures (cutting corners, losing the totin’ chip) are ineffective especially with Cub Scout age youth–they either are safe with a knife or they are not. And if they are not, our role as leaders is to help them be safe. https://www.scouting.org/awards/awards-central/whittling-chip/

As a comparison, the Cyber Chip requirements specifically state that it must be renewed each year:


Well they do not lose the Award - they lose the right to possess a Knife on a Scout function. Had a scout lose it (with one warning and conversation) within one hour. The 2 Denners came and talked to the Leaders and reported the unsafe actions.


I’m quite interested in everyone’s feedback as I’m also a Bear Den Leader and wonder about how safe my rambunctious Scouts will be once they earn the chip. We’re building up to do it next month (in time for them to be allowed to choose the pocket knife in the Popcorn prizes if they reach that amount) with talk of safety and privilege. My son will preach safety all day long about many things (as I have done to him since birth) but his actions do not always follow his words and I consider him of the more responsible in my 22 Scout den. However, as we are not yet meeting in person, perhaps this will give them some time where they are not showing off for their friends (or younger Scouts) to appreciate the privilege of carrying it.

Thanks for everyone’s insight!

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In the current BALOO Instructor Syllabus, there is a section on “Knife Safety for Cub Scouts”:

So it is correct that for Cub Scouts corners are not cut off of Whittling Chip cards – the cards stay a complete unit.

As @DonovanMcNeil said, a Scout who is unsafe with a knife would not lose the award, the Scout would lose the privilege of carrying a pocketknife at Cub Scout functions.


As I see it, the whittling chip does not automatically give them permission to use a knife any time they feel like it. You can and should set parameters around their use.


@jacobfetzer that is a REALLY good point - I taught it for 3 years for a pack and I made it REAL CLEAR - “This does not mean you can take a knife to school!”


Thank you all for great insight on this topic. Since I will be teaching this at BALOO this is something that I can use there and with my Bear den. Plus we can make sure the other Scouts in our Pack. Keep on Scouting!


Here is Bryan on Scouting blog on the matter.

There I commented

I vaguely remember 4 corners and then the card was torn!
Regardless, we make this the responsibility of the PL/SPL. (In our troop, only youth are to sign any requirements for trail to first class. So “unsigning” the chit seems to be a reasonable extension.) If they think the whole card process is stupid, they don’t do it.
So, if the boys are working in a safe manner we would never ask for their cards. But if an SPL/PL is having problems maintaining discipline, we might show them how to work the chit.
And we always teach our boys how to deliver negative reinforcement in a kind and courteous manner.

Absolutely, as a part of their training, it will be safety first and foremost!

I’ve found that the scouts take this very seriously and are really worried they’ll get their corners cut. I think it makes them safer if they think that. We buy them the patches though

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We have surreptitiously adopted this as our Troop policy. We use the older Scouts to teach Totin’ and Firem’n each year to the new boys, and in doing so everyone winds up with a “refresher briefing” in the rules.

I’d be happy to see it become policy. Cyber is renewed every year. Swimmer status is renewed every year. Med forms are renewed every year. A renewal of fire and blade safety - some of the most frequently used skills - makes sense to me.

I was never in cub scouts, but in bsa we cut a corner off each time someone isn’t safe with a knife.

Not all troops do this.

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The BSA stance would imply that for older Scouts four corners is too many chances. If the Scout is unsafe enough to be worth making note of they’re not being safe enough to have it period. “The Scout’s “Totin’ Rights” can be taken away if they fail in their responsibility.”

The Whittling Chip has no such literal line but it’s in the requirements if you think about it. A Cub Scout gained the right to use a knife by agreeing to follow the Pocket Knife Pledge. If they don’t follow it they should lose the right.

An older Scout you should require them to go through a safety course again, a younger Scout a talk is probably good enough.

Remember, the program goal is to err on the side of safety, not to coddle when someone is being clearly unsafe. A Scout who aims a gun at other kids doesn’t lose a corner, they’re off the range. Both devices are equally deadly.

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Personally, as a Webelos DL and now as an ASM, a scout who was being unsafe with a tool lost access to that tool until I was satisfied that the issue had been corrected. Sometimes it was a matter of needing retraining because they didn’t recall essentially anything of their original training. Sometimes it was more like a tailgate safety meeting reminding everyone around about keeping adequate clearance from the cutting yard and potential path of a flying axe/axehead. Sometimes it was a matter of a youth leader getting calm to reassert itself, at least in the vicinity of the yard.

My unit when I was a youth cut corners. I’m personally unsure that is an effective way to handle things, since it doesn’t really create a record of what the problem was. It records that there was a problem, but how that problem is resolved, to me, really depends on the nature of the problem. I’m a firm believer in routine refresher training to keep essential safety skills fresh. To me, it’s the same thing with First Aid, tool use, navigation…There are all skills that have the potential to cause harm if executed improperly. Being the wet blanket is part of the job description for SM/ASMs, in my opinion. We just shouldn’t let it be the only thing that we’re doing during our interaction with the youth.


I am a grandparent with four children in scouts. I am also currently a Webelos den leader. Last year I was a Bear leader and together I and the Webelos leader taught the Whittling Chip requirements to our dens…new for Bears, refresher for Webelos. One of my grandsons is in another pack. His mother told me he was always finding the pocket knives and using them inappropriately but his response was I have
my card. So when I visited, he and I discussed knife safety and use. He knew all the rules, but still did not know the hows. Bear Claws, requirement 3…do one of the following…3a or 3b…3a is craving…3b is using a pocket knife.
I strongly recommend that both are taught to the Bears. Regarding the cutting of corners off the card…we do tell them that, but to my knowledge it has not been done. We also do not allow the cub scouts to have a pocket knife at meetings regardless. We meet at a church and follow their guidelines.

First - I (live @CharleyHamilton) don’t believe the corner things does anything anyway. Beyond that - in our pack campouts and Webelos camp were the only places they got to use their knife outside den time. When we first went over it with my den I pulled the parents in. I have never had that many eyes to safely cover all the young first timer. After going over the rules and safety I then had parent/child pairs work together. I had a trusted parent keep an eye on my son while I circulated.

On campouts we had a designated time and place for use of knives. And we kept a very high adult to cub ratio to ensure safety.

Now what happens when an “accident” occurs? We first acknowledge that the accident was in forgetting a safety rule. We figure our what went wrong and how to not do that again. We did that as Cubs, and that continued as we formed a troop. As a note, I am pretty sure every one of my scouts has incurred a minor cut early. But calm reactions and teaching so far has gone a long way and so far the only issues have been with first year scouts.

I have done the Whittling Chip segment for over 35 years and think some of the answers are missing the point. The card is the first license a Scout will ever get! If someone gets drunk, kills someone driving, would you want a corner cut off their driver’s license? This cut the corner stuff doesn’t make it black and white! When I get them to say the pledge, sign the card, I make it clear that if they don’t honor their pledge, I will take their knife, rip their card apart, and they will need to re-earn the privilege. That doesn’t mean I won’t make a judgement call, usually letting unintentional violations slide. For the most part, 3rd graders understand that I take this seriously, and so should they! On this subject, kids read better when they want the information, the Bear Handbook, (except for the sharpening segment) does an awesome job on knife safety. Best way for them to advance and learn is to use the book, worst feeling in the world is seeing an unused handbook

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