Scraper Video

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Blog entry by Blake posted 11-19-2007 08:00 AM 5064 reads 10 times favorited 49 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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!

49 comments so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3968 days

#1 posted 11-19-2007 01:36 PM

Good video. I’d like to add my methods for using a card scraper, but I’ve got no methods. As I get deeper into woodworking I’m finding all sorts of hand tools that are quite interesting. The problem for me is figuring out the application for each tool. When do you use a scraper? When do you use a plane? And what kind? So much to learn, so little time.

-- Working at Woodworking

View gene's profile


2184 posts in 3912 days

#2 posted 11-19-2007 02:05 PM

Great video! Had not considered a card scraper until now. Thanks for sharing.
God bless

-- Gene, a Christian in Virginia

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3991 days

#3 posted 11-19-2007 02:17 PM

That’s a nice video on a subject that is very subjective. While scrapers are the simplest tool, they can be the most difficult to use effectively. My first thought is that you could have burnished a hook on one scraper and used it first then finished up with the one with out a hook. The more agressive hook would have more quickly removed the finish and then a quick once over would have put the finish on it. I use a scraper when I need it, usually to clean off a glue line before I switch to a smooth plane. I feel that a smooth plane will give a superior finish over a scraper. However for a lot of my work(cabinets,etc.) the finish precludes the need and a ROS is quicker and more cost effective. Three coats of poly and you can’t tell whether it was scraped, planed or sanded. We have to be careful that we don’t get caught up in the process and forget that the end product is the goal. You are doing good things, Blake, keep ‘em coming. Thanks.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3903 days

#4 posted 11-19-2007 04:00 PM

Great video, well done! Enjoyed the music, too.

-- -- --

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3925 days

#5 posted 11-19-2007 04:05 PM

Blake – excellent. Just a few steps to smooth. That’s great. I liked the video, the music and the fact that you gave the Mrs. a plug. That’s a good thing! Look forward to your next video.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4065 days

#6 posted 11-19-2007 04:30 PM

Blake, great video. As Thos. said, scraper use is pretty subjective. That’s the nice thing about this woodworking thing. There are many ways to skin a cat. Thanks for showing the sharpening process and commenting on the 4 surfaces you have to work with. That’s valuable information for anyone considering using a scraper. You made good use of one on that project. Keep the vids coming!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 3898 days

#7 posted 11-19-2007 05:58 PM

I was under the impression that you had to put a hook on the scraper. I’ll have to try this out. Again I learned something. Thanks.

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4019 days

#8 posted 11-19-2007 07:34 PM

Cute Blake! Could have used your advise when I redid the breadboard edge of my desk. I also see that LN sells a handle that protects your fingers from the friction heat. Think I’ll have to add a set to my Christmas wish list!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4328 days

#9 posted 11-19-2007 07:43 PM

A very informative video, Thanks!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4198 days

#10 posted 11-19-2007 08:06 PM

I’ve been going to get one. Now I’ll mover it up on my wish list.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View brad's profile


136 posts in 3933 days

#11 posted 11-19-2007 09:23 PM

The video wont play for me…what am i doing wrong?????//

-- Brad,--"The way to eat an eliphant is one bite at a time"

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3903 days

#12 posted 11-19-2007 10:37 PM

Try it now.

-- Happy woodworking!

View brad's profile


136 posts in 3933 days

#13 posted 11-19-2007 10:46 PM

Finally able to view the video. I’m not sure why you chose not to burnish the scraper, seems like it would require a lot less effort if the edge had the hook?

-- Brad,--"The way to eat an eliphant is one bite at a time"

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4097 days

#14 posted 11-19-2007 11:40 PM

Good to see some instuctional videos. I typically have an aggressive hook on one of the long edges and a less angled hook on the opposite edge. I use a simple wooden holder I bought that holds and bends the scraper slightly. Saves some stress on the hands and helps force better technique. I use it most when removing finish versus surface prep. Enjoyed it.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3986 days

#15 posted 11-20-2007 01:01 AM

Very nice….always wanted to try using a took allot of the mystery out of it!


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