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Official Whittling Chip requirements?

I’m having difficulty finding an official source for the Whittling Chip requirements. They’re not in the Bear Handbook. They’re not in the Webelos Handbook. Googling “bsa cub scouts whittling chip requirements” yields one official PDF and several third-party pages.

The official PDF is the Cub Scout Whittling Chip Certification. It lists three requirements. To complete requirement 1, scouts must “show…that you know how to care for and use your pocketknife safely”.

Similarly, the Webelos Handbook says the Whittling Chip can be earned once a scout can “show that you know how to take care of and use a pocketknife.”

Is there an official source that explains what a scout should do to show he or she knows how to care for a pocketknife?

The Bear Handbook includes one paragraph on how to sharpen a knife. But it seems that’s the only official info on how to care for a knife.

There is a more extensive list of requirements found on boyscouttrail.com. It includes more info on caring for a pocketknife, including:

  • Keeping a knife dry
  • How to keep the blade clean, including using a toothpick, some cloth, and a drop of oil to clean the inside of the knife
  • How to clean the blade after cutting food
  • Keeping the knife off the ground
  • Keeping the knife away from fire

The requirements on BoyScoutTrail appear to have once been official. The footnote found on page 55 in Bear book seems to correspond to requirement 3 on the BoyScoutTrail list: “*One of the items carved for Bear Claws requirement 3 may be used to fulfill Whittling Chip requirement 3.”

Boyscouttrail.com requirement 3 reads “make a carving with a pocketknife. Work with your den leader or other adult when doing this.”

However, requirement 3 on the official PDF discusses something entirely different: “read, understand, and promise to abide by the ‘Pocketknife Pledge’.”

Furthermore, the official Awards Central page for the Whittling Chip says the award is earned after scouts “demonstrate to a Cub Scout leader five levels of pocket knife safety”. Five levels seems to correspond to the five requirements on BoyScoutTrail, but not the three requirements found on the certification pdf.

So did the requirements change in 2019, when the certification pdf was updated?

Also, is there an official source that explains how a scout can show he or she knows how to care for a knife, beyond sharpening? If so, please tell me!

When it comes to something as hazardous as 8-10 year-olds handling knives, sharpening knifes, and using knives to make carvings, one would think the info coming out of BSA would be abundantly clear and thorough! I’m finding that’s not the case. Or maybe I’m just having trouble finding it. I’d appreciate your clarification. Thanks!


Pocketknife Care and Cleaning


Whittling Chip Certification

In my opinion the “Whittling Chip” is a skills certification for Cub Scouts. It is not an “award” though it is listed as such by the Boy Scouts of America on at least two webpages.

Whittling Chip Requirements

Webelos Handbook (2015)

Webelos Cub Scout Handbook, 33452, ISBN 978-0-8395-0046-9, © 2015 Boy Scouts of America - All Rights Reserved, 2015 Printing, p.p. 204-205, Scouting Adventure, Arrow of Light, Requirement 6.

The Safety Rules and Pocketknife are included in the 2015 Webelos handbook.

Safety Rules

There is a partial listing of the “Safety Rules” in the Cub Scout Meeting Guide, p.p. 208-211, “Supplemental Meeting B”,
https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/CubScoutMeetingGuide/bear/BearSupplementalMeetingB.pdf. Original document date not included in extract.

Supplemental Bear Den Meeting B
Shavings and Chips
Achievement 19.

Preparation and Materials Needed

  • Review knife safety information in the Bear Handbook and Cub Scout Leader Book

Achievement 19a: Know the safety rules for handling a knife. Here are some key rules. (See the Bear Handbook.):

  • A knife is a tool, not a toy.
  • Know how to sharpen a knife. A sharp knife is safer because it is less likely to slip and cut you.
  • Keep the blade clean.
  • Never carry an open pocketknife.
  • When you are not using your knife, close it and put it away.
  • Keep your knife dry.
  • When you are using the cutting blade, do not try to make big shavings or chips. Easy does it.
  • Make a safety circle: Before you pick up your knife to use it, stretch your arm out and turn in a circle. If you can’t touch anyone else, it is safe to use your knife

Pocketknife Pledge

See note below.

"I understand the reason for safety rules.

  1. I will treat my pocketknife with the respect due a useful tool.
  2. I will always close my pocketknife and put it away when I’m not using it.
  3. I will not use my pocketknife when it might injure someone near me.
  4. I promise never to throw my pocketknife for any reason.
  5. I will use my pocketknife in a safe manner at all times.”

Note: The 2018 version of the pledge is printed on the back of the Whittling Chip card, item 34398, 2018 Printing, SKU 646953. The 2018 version has a different beginning per the Bear Den Leader Guide, © 2018 Boy Scouts of America, 2018 Printing, “Bear Claws”, p. 43

Award Lists

Guide to Safe Scouting (GSS)

Extract from GSS online version (accessed 2021-10-31. https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/gss08/#g


A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable backcountry tool. Keep it clean, sharp, and handy. The BSA believes choosing the right equipment for the job at hand is the best answer to the question of what specific knife should be used. … 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.

Created 31 Oct 2021, Version 2021-10-31-R

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In the Bear Handbook:

There is a section “Knife Safety Rules to Learn and Live By”:

  • “Keep the blade clean and dry.”
  • “Never use a knife on something that will dull or break it”
  • “Always think before you cut. Do not use your knife to strip bark from a tree or to carve your initials into something that does not belong to you.”

Between the “Knife Safety Rules to Learn and Live By”:and the “Pocketknife Pledge” it says:

Once you

  • understand the safety rules,
  • agree to abide by the Pocketknife Pledge.
  • complete your project, and
  • have your den leader sign your [Whittling Chip] card,

you will have earned your Whittling Chip.

The requirements in the Bear Handbook are pretty close to the requirements as listed in the Whittling Chip Certification (2019).

In the Bear Den Leader Guide starting on page 43 (or page 41) it has more information on the den meetings for the Bear Claw adventure, including a quiz that can be used.

If you want to provide more information, the BALOO Instructor Syllabus also has a section called “Knife Safety for Cub Scouts” starting on page 69.


Sorry I just saw that you are a Webelos leader. I do not have the Webelos Handbook on hand, but I think the information should be similar.

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@ MichaelK, I agree with the expectation that BSA put much more guidance, detail, & effort into Whittling Chip & Bear Claws. For something that has so many parents clenching their teeth each year, & gives first time Bear Leaders anxiety attacks. Instead it’s one of the areas where Den Leaders are left to their own devices, or hopefully the experience of others, to fill in the gaps & make-do. Even the Bear Leader Guide runs thru both the adventure & certification in just 2 meetings…which is odd when things like a hike or cooking take 3 meetings.
When I did it for my Bears last year, I decided to go with the more comprehensive list of 5 requirements from boyscouttrail. I made a printable of the ‘Knives are not toys guidelines’ & the ‘Pocketknife Pledge’ to pass out. Then I took the liberty of amending that ‘official’ certificate to list the 5 requirements from boyscouttrail to award along with the patches.


To me the official certificate is the official BSA card with the Pockerknife Pledge printed on the back of it,

Version 2021-11-02-C

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I don’t know about the CS Whittlin’ Chip certificate, but for the Scouts BSA Toten’ Chip & Fireman Chip certificates I have never had a problem at a Scout Shop picking up blank cards, either the individual ones or the 8 to a sheet style for a printer. If memory serves me it is primarily Ranks and Merit Badges that require paperwork so that may not be a problem.

@JenniferOlinger thank you for the info. Yes, currently we are doing the Whittling Chip for requirement 6 of The Scouting Adventure with a group of Webelos II who weren’t in cub scouts as Bears. My main issue was that the readily available [and official] sources don’t explain how to “care for” one’s pocket knife, specifically how to clean and sharpen it. The info isn’t in the Webelos Handbook, nor is it on Scouting.org. However, the BALOO Instructor Syllabus you linked DOES have that information (page 71)!

An interesting observation is that the quote you provided from the Bear book does not include a requirement found on the 2019 printing of the Cub Scout Whittling Chip Certification form: “…show…that you know how to care for…your pocketknife safely.”

If a den leader doesn’t know about the BALOO syllabus, where would he or she find that information? I think that info should be included in the Bear Handbook, the Webelos Handbook, and on a dedicated Whittling Chip webpage on Scouting.org.

For our den meeting, I ended up going off the 5 requirements from boyscouttrail, including the cleaning and sharpening parts. It went great. No injuries, and everyone got a chance to try out a sharpening stone. It also motivated me to brush up on my own sharpening technique. Tonight while making dinner for my family, I had to use our big knife that’s gotten quite dull. Pulled out my good whetstone from my den meeting box, gave the knife a few passes, and voila - now it’s sharp again! All thanks to the Whittling Chip lol.

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Thank you all the info, I too found it confusing and wondering why there isnt a little guide book just on whittling chip. I’m doing the Bear Claws over 3 possibly 4 meetings to go over saftey and take our time with carving no rushing


Whittling chip and bear claws is easy

Go over types of knives (ignore their list, compare more than just pocket knives)
Not a toy. Tool. Weapon
Explain the blood circle and how to pass a knife safely
Talk about care of your knife as a tool
Repeat the pocketknife pledge, go over each item
Sharpen the knife
Open some everyday items using a Swiss Army knife
Then carve a block of soap.

You’ll notice nowhere does it say to carve wood. Go to Walmart and buy the biggest, cheapest pack of white soap they have since it carves easier. Buy 3-4 years worth up front if it’s cheaper.

What you’re looking for is that they’re carving away from themselves carefully and staying away from others. You’re teaching safety technique not woodcarving technique.

You don’t need to take 3-4 meetings. You really. need 45-60 minutes. The kids will get bored with carving after 5-10 minutes. To reiterate, you’re teaching safety, not carving.

Woodcarving MB is three years away in 6th grade. That’s the point to focus on carving technique, when they have way more of an attention span.

The cheapest quality knives with small blades are sold by the BSA. Item 615780. Small blades are safer.


@KevinCarlyle yes we did all that two years ago when the den did Bear Claws, including carving soap. Back then I probably went off boyscouttrail, too. This time around, I wanted to find official supporting documents. Specifically, I was looking for BSA sources that explained how to “care for” and “take care of” a pocket knife, especially sharpening and cleaning. So far it looks like the BALOO syllabus that Jennifer linked is the most thorough official source. Obviously, there are lots of third-party videos and articles on the web about cleaning and sharpening knives. But I was interested to know what BSA considers appropriate cleaning and sharpening techniques for 8 and 10 year-olds. One would think that info would be easily findable considering how nerve-wracking these adventures can be. Why frustrate den leaders by making them look for appropriate techniques? They already have enough to worry about!

For everyone’s reference and convenience, I’m attaching the pertinent section of page 71 of the BALOO Ordination guide. It is my hope that this info makes it into three places: the Bear Handbook, the Webelos Handbook, and a dedicated Whittling Chip page on scouting .org.


I just did this one over the summer (at camp) and last month with my Bears (my first time as a Bear Den leader). I found Scoutbook to be helpful as it had the requirements for the Whittling Chip in it under the “Awards” section.

My two Bears that went to camp had a brief introduction to it and we practiced with some soap (ugh…not doing that again!). Then in September and October, we finished up by going over the rules again and I had them make some “fuzzy sticks” (for starting fires) and tent stakes.

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@NathanBouvier ah yes! Why didn’t I remember the official requirements can be found in Scoutbook? Thank you for mentioning that. And it shows five, not three requirements. So it seems that PDF is inaccurate - that was the cause of the confusion. This info should be presented clearly and consistently across all sources. Scoutbook screenshot for reference.

What edition is this found in? I have the 2015. The BALOO guide I found and bought at the scout shop is just a syllabus/training. There aren’t any color photos and actual training/instructions. What was the point in me buying the guide? Ugh!

Has anyone reviewed the Complete Starter Guide to Whittling | Boy Scouts of America (scoutshop.org) book on sale at the Scout Shop? I do not know if can be used for Cub Scouts. I might be more appropriate for Scouts.

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