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The Card Scraper

Metal card scrapers are fantastic tools to use when smoothing a surface.  The flexible carbon steel rectangle is about 1/32 of an inch thick and utilizes a small rounded over hook like edge that is burnished onto the sides of the scraper. A scraper works like a standard hand plane in that it removes thin shavings of wood from the surface of a board.  It takes many hours of practice burnishing, but once the skill is learned, hours are saved that would have been spent sanding.  

A card scraper is especially handy when tackling highly figured wood like this piece of walnut I’m using for a table top.  In figured wood, the cells have grown in many directions and the angle of the cutting edge is constantly changing as it moves in relation to their position.  A typical hand plane takes too large a cut and would tear out the surface of this board (leaving a gnarly, rough surface), but a scraper takes such a small cut that this tear out is minimized.  

Another benefit of using a scraper is that the amount of dust produced is minimized, which is especially nice on a wood like walnut, which has particularly noxious dust.  One also saves money on sandpaper.  

A well tuned scraper produces light thin shaving like the ones below.  If dust is produced then the scraper isn’t working properly.  It is very satisfying working with a scraper, and the surface left is very smooth, only requiring light finish sanding.  


Categories: Uncategorized
Posted by John Speier on April 1, 2012
5 Comments Post a comment
  1. 04/1/2012

    I love the wood you use. I was looking at Kat’s table and it rivals anything you might see in The Sundance Catalog. She certainly got a good deal on it . The work is gorgeous. Interesting about the scraper.

  2. 04/4/2012
    Paul White

    I want to make one. Would an old saw blade be a good choice of metal?

    • 04/5/2012

      Yes, an old hand saw would be perfect about 3 by 7 inches or so is a good size. If its too small it won’t have enough flex in it, and it has to flex so the corners don’t dig into the surface.


  3. 04/30/2012
    David McGuire

    Really nice wood and craftsmanship too. As I told you I am a fool for a nice piece of wood and you picked a dandy for this piece. Was it a crotch wood piece or a stump? I always wonder about such nice figure. David McGuire


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