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.