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Foolproof Scraper Sharpening


Foolproof Scraper Sharpening

Make Shavings Like a Pro With Our New Sharpening Method

By Tom Caspar

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I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I saw John Erickson, the woodworker I apprenticed with, scrape a piece of walnut. How could a mere piece of steel work so quickly? John didn’t have to go through five grits of sandpaper to get a smooth surface. He’d take a board right from the jointer, scrape a few strokes, lightly sand with the finest paper, and that was it!

What You Need

The Scraper

A card scraper is a rectangular piece of flat steel. Like a handsaw blade, the steel is soft enough to be filed, but hard enough to hold an edge. Scrapers have four cutting edges shaped like miniature hooks. The hooks are almost too small to see, but you can feel them with your fingers.

Click any image to view a larger version.

The Sharpening Kit

File: The handiest tool is a 10-in. combination mill file with a built-in handle. The double-cut side of the file has two crisscrossed rows of teeth for fast stock removal. The single-cut side has a single row of teeth. This side cuts slower but leaves a smoother surface. Actually, any 8- or 10-in. mill file will work, as long as it’s sharp.

Honing Paddle: A diamond paddle cuts fast and stays flat. You can substitute a slipstone or small oilstone, but they’re slower and score too easily. An extra-fine grit paddle is best, but a fine will work.

Burnisher: A burnisher is nothing more than a hardened and polished 3/8-in.-dia. steel rod. Most come with a handle, but you really don’t need one.

File Card: A file card cleans your file. If you don’t routinely clean your file, metal debris caught in the file’s teeth will put deep scratches on a scraper’s edge.

Oil: Honing oil lubricates the burnisher. Household oil (such as 3 IN 1) works, too, but leaves your hands smelly. See Sources, page 6, for information on where to buy these items.

The Jig

This beveled stick is all you need to hold the file, honing paddle and burnisher at the correct angles.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2003, issue #102.

September 2003, issue #102

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