Boy Scout Woodworking Merit Badge #1: Helping boy scouts with Woodworking Merit Badge

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Blog entry by Will posted 06-04-2008 08:18 PM 1730 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Who among you has worked with boy scouts on the Woodworking Merit Badge?
I’m looking for advice, counsel and how-to as my woodworking neighbor and I work with a small group of younger boy scouts to help them earn the merit badge. These boys will be 11 years old to 15 years old.
I’m most interested in these things:
—How did/do you organize the merit badge work, all in a single session of X hours OR in two or more sessions?
—How do you determine which tools and which projects the scouts work with and work on since hardly any of these have any woodworking experience?
—How many scouts did/do you find is a reasonable size group to work w/one experienced woodworker per scout(s)?

FYI, here’s the link to the merit badge requirements:

6 comments so far

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3696 days

#1 posted 06-04-2008 09:59 PM

When I was in scouts many years ago, there were about 8 of us in our group. We had one scoutmaster that had some power tools and one other dad their to help. We made candy dispensers using a mayo jar to hold the candy and a wooden base.

Looking back, I think the way this worked was the scoutmaster cut a few of the pieces (assemply line style) in advance. Then we can in and cut a curve into one of the pieces on a jigsaw, and used a drill press to put a hole for the candy to fall through. The scoutmaster showed us how the glue-up would work and he did the rest over the course of the next week (I doubt he had enough clamps for 8 projects at once).

The next week, we added a set screw to prevent the handle from falling out, sanded, and stained it. The next week we had a project to take home.

Basically we stayed away from the big power tools and the project was very simple (I was probably about 12 yrs old). Some taking turns was involved but two groups of 4 seemed to work well. My parents still use the project I built today and I’m thinking of trying to make a new one now that I’m into woodworking 20 years later. I don’t know if this helps, but either way, I commend you for contributing to kids lives. I still remember this project after all these years.

View Randy Sharp's profile

Randy Sharp

363 posts in 3640 days

#2 posted 06-04-2008 10:25 PM

Will, I just retired as a SM after eight years. During that time, I taught the badge only twice. Each was a one-on-one 2-Saturday session to make sure the scout did all the requirements I thought were necessary to earn the badge. Safety was my top priority, and I didn’t want to chance not being able to keep my eye on every movement, especially during tool use (It’s hard to tie knots with missing fingers). Unfortunately, in today’s society, letting kids that aren’t yours use power tools brings a great deal of liability should an accident occur. I only chose the most mature scouts for the training.

As you have noticed, the requirements are extremely outdated. No offense to the master craftsmen out there, but today’s scouts need power tools to understand today’s woodworking. And, it’s only going to get more advanced. The current requirements are mainly hand tools.

I picked out the Planter’s Desk featured on Norm Abram’s site. It incorporates almost every basic cut and joint a fellow needs to know. Tapers, cross-cuts, straight cuts, dadoes, chamfers, round-overs, angle cuts, mortise & tennon, it’s really got it all. We used the table saw, the bandsaw, the chopsaw, the router, the mortiser, drill press, glue & clamps, nail gun…you name it. Then to complete the project, the scout had to apply the finish. The scout then presented it to his mother.

I really felt after he did the project, he had a good over-all general knowledge of woodworking, enough to decide if he would consider pursuing it further on his own. After all, that’s the purpose of merit badges. I hope this is helpful.

My motto with scouts has always been:
“If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is; but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

-- Randy, Tupelo, MS ~ A man who honors his wife will have children who honor their father.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3696 days

#3 posted 06-04-2008 10:40 PM

I should probably add that I don’t remember getting a badge for this. I think it was just one of our weekly activities.

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3688 days

#4 posted 06-05-2008 05:57 AM

First of all, listen to Randy. Remember the Scout must earn the badge. I think that one on one is the best route. Read the requirements for the badge. Have the scout set up an appointment and come to you. This is the principle of having them earn the badge. It does not help them if the badge just gets signed off.

I also spent a few very good years in scouting as SM. Todays boys need the principles of scouting more than ever.

Again read Randy’s response. He has a good grip on the program.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3853 days

#5 posted 06-05-2008 06:05 AM

I was in scouting for 8+ years and if I were teaching a class I’d make them do every thing on their own with your supervision and make the do it over until they got it right….these are lessons they will carry with them the rest of their lives. We always had to work hard to get our badges and in later like I have appreciated that.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4065 days

#6 posted 06-05-2008 08:23 AM

David is the resident expert on this topic, although he has not been as active as he was in the past. Check out his blog entries on the topic and send him a message.

If that does not work, try contacting him via his web site.

He is a great guy.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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