There has been a lot of chat about card scrapers lately so I thought I would take the opportunity to post my first video!
Now I am by no means an expert at hand tools. I am learning a lot as I go. But I found something that works for me. My hope is that someone who has never tried a scraper will see how easy it is and give it a go.
This amazingly simple flat rectangle of metal always seemed so mysterious to me but it is so simple once you get the hang of it. Many difficult or highly-figured pieces of lumber often can not be tamed by machinery. But this $10 tool you hold in your hand can make it as smooth as glass in about five minutes.
My scraper story:
A few months ago I refinished an oak dining table for a friend. I did a ton of research on random orbit sanders and a good article in a magazine recommended Makita after various tests. So I bought it and loved it. It seemed efficient and smooth. I spent countless hours sanding the table and gradually stepped down my paper grits finer and finer. It looked perfect! So I applied the stain and suddenly all the little swirling sanding circles popped right out. I was horrified. So I started over and sanded the whole thing again, being even more careful…. Consistent pressure, don’t force it, slow smooth strokes over the surface, gradually step down grits…. Same results.
I had bought a scraper but never used it. I gave it a try and it took me about fifteen or twenty minutes to scrape the entire table. It was absolutely perfect, and way smother than even the 360 grit sandpaper had produced. And guess what, no dust, no mask, no vibration-numbed hands, and no noise from the shop vac either.
In my opinion it seems that the whole concept of stepping down sanding grits is the following: The course grit removes enough material but leaves behind sanding marks. So each progressively finer grit is used just to erase those unwanted marks. What a a waste of time and energy! What if there were a better tool which made the surface perfectly smooth in the first pass?
I do like my Makita but it sits on the shelf a lot these days. So if you haven’t bought a sander yet, try spending $12 on a good quality scraper (and learn how to correctly use it) before you spend $150 on a random orbit sander.
Again, there are many different ways to use a scraper. This is just one way of doing it. Please feel free to ask questions or add comments about your method/tips for using the card scraper in this thread.
-- Happy woodworking! http://www.blakeweber.us