Wolf Achievement 5: Tools for Building and Fixing

When and How: Are the dads in your Den not showing up for meetings? Women can fix things, of course, but tools seem to be linked to the X chromasome, so this is a chance to let the men join in Den meeting fun. It is good to do this one in someone's workshop or garage, so recruit a family to hold the meeting at their house. Make sure there is enough room for every Cub to swing a hammer safely at the same time. It helps to have lots of adults for this one, so all the kids can be supervised. If you do all this in one meeting, plan on longer than an hour. Probably an hour and a half, plus some time for the stragglers to finish up.

Special needs scouts: When these requirements say "show how", they mean exactly that. A child with no hands can still explain how to use a hammer. The project can be built with help. As always, when Akela believes that the boy has done their best, the requirement is satisfied.

Equipment: Safety glasses for all, and enough pliers, hammers, and screwdrivers that they don't have to wait in line. Lots of extra nails. Some lightweight hammers, even tack hammers, are a very good idea. Many 2nd-graders cannot swing a 16 oz. hammer accurately. Pre-cut wood for a birdhouse, bookends, or other project. Den dues should pay for the materials.

The BSA birdhouse kit is a good project, but birds have refused to nest in any of the four around our house. The house finch pair does like  building a nest on the porch light right next to our BSA birdhouse. You might want to consider a birdhouse plan designed for local bird species. Search for "birdhouse plans" on any internet search engine, and you'll find plenty. If you do use the BSA birdhouse kit, skip trying to nail the teeny piece just below the door. It always splits, even with the small nails in the kit.

Have a first aid kit handy. With enough supervision, injuries are unlikely, but this a riskier activity than folding flags. Spread out the boys so they will have room to work safely. They will be concentrating on the tools, not on keeping a safe distance.

You can do the hammers and screwdrivers as two stations, and rotate the boys through them.

5a: Point out and name seven tools. Do this at home, or go to a hardware store with an adult. Tell what each tool does.

Notes:  Have these laid out on a workbench, so they aren't confused with everything else on the wall or in the toolbox. Put out seven or eight common tools, and a few odd tools (glass cutter, oil filter wrench, wire stripper) so they can guess what they might be.

5b: Show how to use pliers.

Notes: "Show how to use" does not mean that they must reach some proficiency level. It means that they know when to use pliers and when to use something else, how to use them safely, and how to care for them. Explain when you use a wrench instead of pliers, and why.

5c: Identify a Philips head and a standard screw. Then use the right tool to drive and then remove one from a board.

Notes: Have boards and screws ready, one setup for each Cub. Show how to put soap on a screw to make it easier to drive. If they are having trouble turning them, go ahead and drill pilot holes for the screws. That is good practice, not cheating. This requirement isn't worded as "show how", but you can interpret it that way for kids with limited dexterity.

5d: Show how to use a hammer.

Notes: Start five or six nails into a board, then let the kids pound them in and extract them. Wear safety glasses, and explain why (chance of flying shards of metal from the nails). Choose shorter or heavier nails because they are less likely to bend and frustrate the kids. Or choose the same nails which will be used in your project. This is "show how to use", so there is no requirement to get even one nail properly nailed down and extracted.

3e: Make a birdhouse, a set of bookends, or something else useful.

Notes: A birdhouse is the classic, but you can use your imagination here. Just keep it simple enough that it stays fun. The BSA birdhouse requires 15-17 small nails, no cutting, no sanding, and painting is optional. Anything more complicated is probably too hard. Beware of projects with "dead time", like waiting for glue or paint to dry.


Based on Wolf Cub Scout Book, 2003 edition.
Walter Underwood, Cubmaster, Pack 14, Palo Alto, CA
August, 2004