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Supported by Victorinox

Knife skills

First suggested by Bushscout
Learn how to safely use and take care of a knife, then put your skills to the test by creating a simple peg.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Knives
  • Scrap card
  • Scissors
  • Sharpening stones
  • Leather/canvas straps
  • Soft wooden sticks
Peg making guide
PDF – 2.1MB

Join the practical skills alliance

Bushscout are a national community of Scout Leaders who have a passion for teaching traditional and practical Scouting skills to other Scout Leaders. Subjects covered on training days include:
  • knife, axe and saw safety and skills
  • backwoods cooking
  • tarpology and tents
  • fire
  • kelly kettles and water purification
  • pioneering
  • crafts
  • game preparation
Learn more about Bushscout

Before you begin

  • You must be aware of UK knife law before buying, using, or carrying a knife.
  • Knives are an important tool for a survival situation and can be versatile if you know how to use them safely and properly.
  • A small folding knife that has a blade fewer than three inches long is suitable for a lot of different survival uses. You may need to use a knife with a larger (or fixed) blade for some activities – you should follow the law, only use them when needed, never carry them in a public place, and always store them securely and out of view.
  • People must be supervised by adults when knives are used.
  • Don’t feel pressured to jump straight into making a peg. You could get some clear pine from a timber merchant and make shavings for fuel to get people practising for the first time. If you want to make a peg, you’ll need a soft wood like green hazel, ash, or willow. It’s best to practise before you show young people to make sure you understand.


This activity helped everyone to develop skills. How could their safe knife skills be helpful in a survival situation? Some people may never find themselves in a survival situation. Knowing how to use a knife can be useful on any camp; did people learn other skills too? Perhaps they learned how to take a deep breath and keep focussed or face their fears and try something new.

This activity also needed people to be responsible. Why is it important that people know about the law and how to use a knife safely before they pick one up? Why is it important to take care of tools like knives? How can people remind themselves to be responsible when they use knives in the future?



Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.