cabinet scraper

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Blog entry by AaronK posted 12-17-2008 12:05 AM 946 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

this thing has to be the most ridiculously counter-intuitive tool ever. it’s like, the exact opposite of everything I’ve encountered so far, hand or power. when I first brought it out a few days ago, I did everything wrong:

-burnished with too much pressure
-for too long
-at too steep an angle
-used too much pressure on the wood
-at too steep an angle

and it gave understandably awful results. i figured, it’s sort of like a bench plane, so i’ll crank up the pressure, give it a steep angle…

but i basically did the reverse of all that and it works great! this thing is all about finesse: a tiny burr, passed over with the burnisher just a few times with almost just the weight of the tool as pressure, bent very slightly, held at >75º, and passed lightly and smoothly over the wood gives the best results and maintains the edge well.

8 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4314 days

#1 posted 12-17-2008 12:14 AM

I file mine at 90 degres. Just the way I was taught.

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 4032 days

#2 posted 12-17-2008 12:29 AM

Cabinet scrapers can be frustrating. Let me know what type you have, is it a Stanley #80, or a large body style? I can probably save you some grief.

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1892 posts in 3671 days

#3 posted 12-17-2008 01:22 AM

I file, and hone on a stone, then clamp in a vise, and burnish the crud out of it a few times till I feel the burr. Once I can feel it, do the same on the other side, then it’s off to the wood surface and happy shavings!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3874 days

#4 posted 12-17-2008 01:57 AM


Have you been talking to jim1953???.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have hit the sweet spot!!!

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3464 days

#5 posted 12-17-2008 03:10 AM

thanks for the comments:

dennis: right – i file it at 90º, but i meant the angle of burnishing and the angle of holding it on the wood.

marco: I have whatever it is that Rockler sells in their 3-pc pack. 0.8mm if i recall correctly. about 5”x3” or so.

i’ve still had some trouble – been using it on my bookshelves project since i got sick of sanding and read that the finish left by these is nicer on account of the shearing rather than tearing of wood fibers. anyway, it worked beautifully on some pieces, and with much more difficulty on others… it depended somehow on the grain, and it could have been a heartwood/sapwood thing, i dont know… but there was a definite variation in the wood – some boards were much more dense than others, and those were the ones that the scraper worked more cleanly on, with nicer/longer shavings and smoother finish.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 3627 days

#6 posted 12-17-2008 04:39 AM

What burnisher are you using? I have a crown, the diameter of it makes it hard to apply too much pressure unknowingly.

BTW, congratulations on figuring it out. I was pretty stoked to get it. Heck, I am still stoked every time I have a freshly sharpened scraper.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 4032 days

#7 posted 12-17-2008 05:04 PM

Get a feel for the burr. Christopher Schwarz did a great article recently where he tried 14 different methods and found the best, it is on his blog.

You will find that some burrs cut better, get a feel for how you made them, and duplicate it. When learning how to sharpen a scraper, scratch numbers near all 4 cutting edges, flatten the edge with a file, and turn 1 burr, and try it out. If you do all four, you will never know how you did the good one(s).

As for finish, a card scraper is forgiving, but not foolproof. It is still good to pay attention to what the wood is doing, and change directions if the finish feels fuzzy.

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3464 days

#8 posted 12-17-2008 08:37 PM

thanks for the link marco, i think i’d seen it before but forgot where! So far I think “burnishing” the card flat edge definitely helps, and it does make sense, as written in the article.

anyway, yeah, i’ll give a few different methods a shot and see how they go.

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