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OK I need some help from those of you who are more intimately familiar w/ the G2SS than I am. I had a conversation recently with a cub leader who asserted that scouts under the age of 18 may not use power tools and that one must have one's totin' chit at hand in order to use a knife, saw, etc.. This was all in the context of a discussion about pinewood derby cars - and what kinds of tools cubs could and could not use (with supervision, of course) to shape them.


I have scoured the G2SS and found only that you have to be 18+ in order to use a chainsaw or log splitter. I have also found both of the above listed as "urban legends" here:




But then, I've also seen the "no power tools under 18" proscription on various OA sites, troop sites, and I know that my son's troop follows this limitation as well as requiring boys to have their totin' chit cards with them in order to use knives, etc. on campouts.


Help me sort truth from fiction here?



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The truth may always be found in the written BSA publications and the BSA website. Other internet web sites may or may not be true and frequently reflect the personal opinions of the site author (the inquiry site for example). "Rules" heard in conversations around the campfire may or may not be true.


Ask for the particular BSA publication where the rule may be found and look it up yourself. If you can't find it, that's your first clue as to the validity of the "rule".

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Under G2SS (Sports and Activities)


..Chainsaws and mechanical log splitters may be authorized for use only by trained individuals over the age of 18, using proper protective gear in accordance with local laws.


This is the only restriction on power tools you will find in the G2SS. Our scouts use a lot of different power tools for their service and eagle projects. We used the activity badges in Webelos to teach proper safety and use of power tools as well. I remember teaching all the scouts the proper use of lawn mowers since that is about the age they start using them.


Truth is Scouting should be a place were we learn proper use and respect of power tools and woods tools instead of fearing them. Strangely, the tool that causes the most reported enjuries for scouts is the hand saw, not the axe of knife.





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I'd have two quiet talks...


First, converse with an experienced craftsman. When I went to junior high school, oh so long ago, we were not permitted use of shop tools until our instructor or teacher had checked us out on same. I never did get to the point of working a metal lathe. The craftsman will have good ideas about training scouts.


Second, converse with your Council (or region) safety person. In the (perfect) world, each council executive board has a health and safety committee, and it's equally divided between health and safety professionals. IN THE REAL WORLD, you may have to have your SE put you in touch with someone at a neighboring Council, Region or even National.


Isn't feedback a gift?



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thanks for this thread, folks!


I have been told repeatedly by many sources in our council that boys under 18 cannot use power tools - especially in reference to Eagle projects. I was told that was SPECIFICALLY forbidden in the Life to Eagle packets, but had not had the time to research it myself or really read Jon's packet.


I assumed that our SM and committee knew what they were talking about.... now, on second thought, knowing our committee, I SHOULD have assumed they were wrong - they usually are! ;-P


I will make a specific effort to find the Official BSA backup to PROVE that they can use them - as my son is into woodworking, and has been stalling on an Eagle project because his original idea involved the use of the woodworking skills he has learned in school. Troop leaders

informally rejected it - because no one would have wanted to do all that constuction with only hand tools.


I suspect this 'wrong' rule is the reason why most of our Eagle projects in this area involve landscaping type projects rather than construction type things. It certainly is a very limiting restriction!


This issue always confused me, because I distinctly remember working WITH the boys and dads in Webelos using power drills, hot glue guns, palm sanders and a dremel to create their derby cars. they were under close, one-on-one supervision, but they all very successfully made their own cars with the tools.


In boy scouts, we also used a woodburner to mark names in signs, make nametags, and the boys have used power drill/screwdrivers in various situations. I remember one of our boys working at Camp Napawon on his Metalworking badge - which has a requiremnt to work with a welder and actually weld something. Isn't that a power tool???? Most of our boys take at least a basic woodworking /trades class in high school, many, like my son, have their woodworking and woodcarving badges. It isn't ALL done with hand tools!


Especially for kids like mine - who are into woodworking and have been using power tools safely since they could hold them, and who are properly trained thru woodworking and carpentry courses, this requirement seemed ludicrous to me.


I guess it is.







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bbng - thanks, I'm fairly certain the age guidelines you linked to must be where the "no power tools for cubs" idea comes from.


Laura, I too have frequently been told that boys under 18 may not use power tools while working on Eagle projects. It could actually be in the Life-Eagle booklet, I don't know. Someone here probably does know???


Our troop has encouraged boys to recruit a couple of adults (who know how to use these tools) to work on the project, if power tools will be necessary. As long as the boy shows leadership and doesn't allow/expect the adults to "take over" then there's nothing wrong with having the adult use the power saw to cut a few boards or what have you. Or anyway that's been the approach I've seen (though, thinking about it now, I know the boys regularly use power drills) Others may have a different view on that, particularly if there is no such limitation actually in the Life-Eagle packets.



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I will make a specific effort to find the Official BSA backup to PROVE that they can use them


You will not find anything in any BSA publication that says boys are permitted to use power tools. Publications cover things you must do, and things you must not do. Things that are OK are not listed. Suppose I tell you boys are not allowed to chew gum while hiking. Will you be able to find written proof that gum chewing it allowed??


There is nothing in the Eagle application nor the workbook that restricts the use of tools.




A local council may or may not have a restriction. But talk is cheap. If its important enough to have a rule about, then its important enough to write down and disseminate.

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Just some thoughts on the use of power tools.


While the the G2SS or other BSA documentation may not specifically prohibit the use of power tools, many states have child labor laws that prohibit the use of power tools and machinery by employees under the age of 18 or other specific age. Hence, council camps or other BSA properties that employ youth may have rules prohibiting the use of such equipment and that is the source of the unofficial rules for scouts who are not employees.


Personally I would have no problem with scouts using tools such as light hand drills, power screwdrivers, light sander, or even a light hand held jig saw or dremel tool with adult supervision.


I would be uncomfortable with most scouts using tools such as a power circular saw, chop saw, pneumatic nailers or a heavy drill. In my career in construction I've had experienced construction workers sever limbs, fingers, broken limbs, nailed feet and legs and in one case I am aware of a fatality involving the use of a drill. These tools should be used by experienced adults with a high degree of caution. Construction activity, particularly residential type construction,(i.e. wood constuction) has some of the highest accident rates of any industry in the US.


As far as Eagle projects go, there is no reason construction projects can't be done using the approach Lisabob describes. Also there are plenty of Eagle projects that can be of a scale that can be built entirely using basic hand tools. It wasn't that long ago entire houses, barns and other structures were built using no power tools at all. For example building a Gazebo in the town square or school courtyard using nothing but a hammer, nails, framing square and a crosscut hand saw is quite feasible. If one really wants to be precise you could use a finish saw, and a manual mitre saw. Our unit recently built a storage shed for our equipment where we didn't have access to power using this approach.



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Other than what you find in G2SS or age-appropriate guidelines, you won't find Official BSA backup to prove that they can use them.


It is up to the unit to decide what the guidelines are in respect of what can be used, who can use them and what supervision is required. A unit decides what level of risk and liability exposure they are willing to accept if something happens and someone becomes injured.


While some may call these "rules", "urban ledgends". In this specific case I see them as covering your tail. They very well might limit your exposure in a lawsuit.


Unfortunately in todays society lawsuits are all to prevalent when someone becomes injured.


If a scout becomes injured,we all know about Mr.Murphys law. It will be that Units leaders who are named as defendants, sitting in a courtroom with their insurance and pockets on the line if a monetary judgement is awarded.



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For several years, I taught students, ages 13-17, basic woodworking and tool use. Safety, basic First Aid and Good Shop behaviors were taught, practiced, and enforced. We had one minor accident involving a wrong behavior that caused the problem. (Accidents are caused, they never just happen.) I wouldn't give a group of Scouts five minutes of instruction and turn them loose with POWER tools, a bad idea. FB

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I wouldn't give a group of Scouts five minutes of instruction and turn them loose with POWER tools, a bad idea.


Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!


This is one of those "just because they can doesn't mean they should" situations. Anytime you are letting Scout aged kids use power tools, there should be close experienced adult supervision.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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