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Scrapers 101: Sharpening and Usage

How to Sharpen Card Scrapers

...and cabinet scrapers and scratch stocks.  They are all scrapers and sharpening them is the same process to a point.  File a 90 degree edge then hone that edge.  Honing is important for durability of the edge and especially important if you roll a burr.  The honed edge will give you a uniform edge to roll, whereas the un honed edge will present more of a frayed edge and when rolled will either come off or be very fragile.  

As shown in this demonstration, the burr may not be as important as you might think.  So if you struggle with rolling a consistent burr then just skip it.  I never roll a burr on my cabinet scraper blade and I don't roll a burr on my gooseneck scraper either.  Just too difficult to keep it consistent around those curves.  

Using a scraper should feel easy.  It shouldn't hurt your hands or fingers.  Certainly a card scraper will heat up fast so having a heat sink magnet help alleviate that.  As I show it also marks one side of the scraper making it easier to see which edges you are working with and help to remember to switch to the other side as one side dulls.  If you do roll a burr  it is imperative that the burr is not more than 5-10 degrees off 90 otherwise the scraper becomes unusable and you are dragging your knuckles on the work in order to tilt it forward enough to engage the burr.  

Scraper Sharpening Step by Step:

  • Clean off any preexisting burr by rubbing the face of the scraper on a stone
  • File the edge at 90 degrees to the face; use a guide block
  • Hone that edge using the same block to 8000-ish grit
  • Go back to work if you don't want a burr
  • Using a short burnisher swipe toward your body and away 2 times holding the burnisher at 5-10 degrees off 90.
  • If the burr is inconsistent, use a conical tipped burnisher to bend it to shape

I wrapped up with a tour of all the stuff you get when you buy anything at The Hand Tool School and to thank people for hanging out and asking questions I have a deal: use "rwwlive" to save 10% at The Hand Tool School

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