Woodworking in America 2008 #4: Scrapers: History, Preparation and Use - Part 1

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Blog entry by Al Navas posted 11-25-2008 10:13 AM 1666 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: In 2008, the Neanders came to Berea... Part 4 of Woodworking in America 2008 series Part 5: WIA - Scrapers: History, Preparation and Use, Part 2 »

Scrapers are often misunderstood, and many of us produce mostly dust instead of nice, thin shavings. As a result, this terrific session was included in the WIA program.

From my blog:


Christopher Schwarz, Editor of Popular Woodworking (PW) magazine, does a terrific job in this session. He is entertaining, and has an uncanny ability to convey his message accurately and succinctly. I split this session into three parts, for easier downloading and viewing. This is the high-resolution video (as high as I can get with an old video camera).


This session is Schwarz’s presentation on a topic he researched, and published on the PW blog in April 20, 2007. The published article shows the steps required to properly do the job, and mentions “…a list of 14 different techniques for sharpening this rectangle of steel that have been published since 1875.” In the video he talks about the references he found, from “12 dead guys and 2 living”, and which were the foundation of this work.

For Part 1:

In this first Part, Chris covers the historical background (nothing about sharpening scrapers appears in the literature until 1875), his work on wood failure (Types 1, 2, and 3 shavings, and why tearout occurs), and the first part of scraper preparation: Filing the edge.

The next two episodes will show the rest of the session with Chris, and the wonderful shavings he produces with a well-sharpened scraper.


Here is Chris at the workbench, filing the edge of the scraper near the end of Part 1:

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

7 comments so far

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3716 days

#1 posted 11-25-2008 09:27 PM

when do we get the next episode? The first one ended RIGHT when it got good.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3898 days

#2 posted 11-25-2008 11:05 PM

Sorry! I had no idea it would create so much suspense… :-)

It’s cookin’ right now. Will post as soon as available.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View hokieman's profile


185 posts in 3777 days

#3 posted 12-01-2008 05:04 AM

Thanks for the post. This was very informative.

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 3746 days

#4 posted 12-01-2008 06:12 AM

Al, this is great information…I just finished watching the video. Thanks so much for taking the time to record it and share it with us. I’m looking forward to seeing the other two parts when I get more time. This is a great resource to refer back to.

Thanks again.

-- Martin, Kansas

View definn's profile


30 posts in 3539 days

#5 posted 12-01-2008 06:35 AM

Learned to sharpen scrapers in 1945 as an apprentice, and yes, properly prepared it is great tool, even tho preparation is timeconsuming but a work of Love.

-- Karl, Wyoming

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3716 days

#6 posted 12-01-2008 05:18 PM

I’ve only seen the first video but I heard Chris say something that REALLY got my attention. He said “The first time you roll a burr”. Is there a method for just touching up the burr on a card scrapper? I have been going through all the steps that you would use for a brand new card scraper every time mine needs a new edge and consequently I find myself not using my scraper. The edge doesn’t last so long and going through all the steps is a bit of a procedure.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3898 days

#7 posted 12-01-2008 07:34 PM


Chris addressed this issue in Part 3, if my memory is still working. He stated that he files the edge only every 4th sharpening or so. Why? Because, although you could try to draw the burr once more, and it (might) work fine, it will not be as durable. And, by skipping the filing, the stoning goes much more quickly, too. THE critical thing to remember: Don’t use too much pressure, and draw the burr in several passes, at a fairly shallow angle. This creates the most durable burr.

I pretty much do the same, and also found the burr just is not as durable. So, I go back and start over, but minus the filing.

Once you get into the rhythm, the sharpening goes quickly. One hour should be more than enough to get several scrapers ready to get beautiful shavings. When I need one, I need one badly! ;-)

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

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