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Fun Activity to Teach Cub Scouts How to Use Hand Tools

This fun activity will teach Cub Scouts how to safely and correctly use hand tools and will give them an opportunity to practice their new skills.

Cub Scout tool practice activity

One of the many things I like about the Cub Scouting program is that it teaches our kids some great life skills. How to use basic hand tools is one of those skills.

In fact, there are two adventures that include requirements for using tools safely.

Note: The Guide to Safe Scouting prohibits our Cub Scouts from using power tools. This activity is designed to use hand tools.

Bear Elective Adventure Baloo the Builder Requirement 1. Discover which hand tools are the best ones to have in your toolbox. Learn the rules for using these tools safely. Practice with at least four of these tools before beginning a project.

Webelos and Arrow of Light Elective Adventure Build It Requirement 1. Learn about some basic tools and the proper use of each tool. Learn about and understand the need for safety when you work with tools.

The Cub Scouts who attended our day camp built some pretty amazing wood projects. And every summer, there were a few kids who had never used a hammer or a screwdriver. That's why I love these requirements!

cub scout chairs

Our Cub Scouts built a tray, a table, a chest, and a chair!

This activity will allow the Cub Scouts to practice using some hand tools. As you're working with the kids, emphasize the need for safety, including wearing safety glasses.

As adults, we might not even consider wearing safety glasses to hammer a nail into a piece of wood. Because we want to teach our Scouts how to use tools safely, we should wear safety glasses ourselves and require that the Scouts do so too.

Work gloves are also important when working with wood. Make sure you have at least one pair for each station.

Hand Tools Needed

If you don't have both a hand saw and a coping saw, just use the one that you have.

Make sure you have enough tools so that the Cub Scouts don't have to wait long to use one. You'll be dividing the den into four groups. So, if you have 12 kids in your den, you'll want to have 2 or 3 of each tool.

This fun toolkit is perfect for the kids! The tools are real–not toys.

Other Supplies Needed

Prework for Tool Station Activity

Prepare one piece of 2×4 wood by predrilling two holes for each boy.

Prepare the 1×4 piece of wood by screwing two bolts (one large and one small) through the wood and placing nuts on the ends of the bolts.

Categories of Tools

The hand tools that the kids will use for this activity can be grouped into four categories by how they'll be used.

  • Measuring – Measuring tape
  • Cutting – Saws (coping & hand)
  • Attaching – Hammer
  • Tightening – Screwdriver and Slip-joint pliers

The best way to practice using these tools is to set up four stations–one for each category. Assign an adult to work at each station.  Have the adults demonstrate the activities before the boys begin them.

Divide the den into four teams.  The teams will work at one station then rotate to the next one.

Measuring Tool Station

By this age, most kids have learned how to use a ruler, so the measuring tape should be pretty easy for them.

You'll want to show them how to lock and unlock the tape. Don't forget to tell them to move their fingers when the tape is being retracted!

Tape measures actually have some pretty cool features that you may not know about. This YouTube video explains them.

tape measure tricks video

You can demonstrate these to the Scouts, or just show them this video! 🙂

Cutting Tool Station

The Bear handbook has great instructions on how to use both the hand saw and the coping saw. The adult who is staffing this station should read these and practice the technique prior to the meeting.

Note: If you're working with Webelos or Arrows of Light, borrow the Bear handbook from your pack's Bear den leader to review this section.

saw and wood hand tools for cub scouts

Have the children use a clamp to attach the wood to the work surface before they start cutting the wood.

You may want to combine the measuring and cutting stations. The Scouts' assignment can be to cut a piece of wood that is 6″ long. Use whatever measurement you think would work best.

Attaching Tool Station

At the attaching station, the Cub Scouts will use the hammer to drive a nail part of the way into the wood.  Then, they will remove the nail with the claw end of the hammer.

cub scout hand tools hammer removing nail

Tightening Tool Station

The tightening station will use two tools–screwdrivers and pliers. If you have enough adults, you could make this two stations instead of one.

The adult will show the kids both kinds of screws and screwdrivers. Point out the different sizes of each, and show how to select the right size.

cub scout hand tools slotted screwdriver

The Scouts will rub the screws on the bar of soap then screw them into the wood using the appropriate screwdriver. They should use both kinds of screwdrivers.

The kids will use the slip-joint pliers to remove the nuts from the bolts.  Use the pliers in the closed position for the small nut and in the open position for the big jobs.

cub scout hand tools pliers activity

After the kids have practiced using their hand tools, they'll be ready to start building!

What other tool practice activities have your Scouts done?

Yours in Scouting,

P.S. The Baloo the Builder adventure is one of the requirements for the Cub Scout Nova award, Swing!

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