Card Scraping #1: Finally some success

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Blog entry by bbasiaga posted 05-16-2015 01:21 AM 1034 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I posted a while back in the forums about card scraping. Mainly my interest was driven by the reduction/elimination of sanding from my finishing routine. I bought some card scrapers and a burnisher from Woodcraft, set about sharpening them/creating a burr via several different methods, and met with lots of mixed results. Well, finally I have had some success! Let me thank all of the LJs who responded to my thread and put me on to some very good YouTube videos of different techniques. They definitely led to my success. In the future I will do another entry with the sharpening/burnishing method I landed on. For now, this post will show what I used it for and why I am happy. I hope it helps someone thinking about adding this tool and technique to their arsenal as I just have.

My current project is a coffee table, to match the end tables I just made for my family room. I am at the point of having cut all the pieces, and am pre-sanding the faces before assembly. My ROS does a great job of this, but I have always been left with problems sanding the thin edges. The ROS is too easy to top and round off or otherwise reshape the thin edge unintentionally. My powered disc/belt sander combo is too aggressive, and makes it too easy to leave sanding marks if you aren’t very careful to keep the board perfectly aligned. Given that, I have always defaulted to using regular sandpaper and a sanding block to work out any saw marks or burn marks left of the edge of my material.

After going through a whole table worth of pieces that way, my arms are tired! Its a good thing I work out regularly, but even so when I am done it feels like I just spend a couple hours at the gym. Lots of tedious work. This time I employed the card scraper. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

You can see in this picture the piece has some saw blade marks (scallops) as well as a small burn spot or two.
 photo 20150515_172455_zpsplyygenh.jpg

As I took the scraper to it, and found a good angle of attack as well as the proper amount of bow in the scraper, the nice fine curls started pouring off. And the tool and burn marks disappeared remarkably quickly. I was amazed! Here is what it looks like after scraping until the marks were gone, and the surface smooth.

 photo 20150515_172501_zpsmxs533ki.jpg

Pretty good, but not quite there. After just a few, and i mean a few, light passes with 220grit paper on my sanding block, it was PERFECT!

 photo 20150515_172823_zpsm23zikzs.jpg

I would estimate I saved about 1 hour of sanding time using this method. I was tired, but less so. I believe I am now a believer in card scraping. I’m sure I’ll find other uses for it as time goes on as well. I love it.

Here are a few more things I learned as a beginner in this technique
-Practice on a lot of scrap
-Practice again
-The angle you hold the scraper at makes a lot of difference. Experiment. It seems it may change as well from the left side of the scraper to the right, depending on how evenly you held the angle when drawing out your burr
-If you are scraping continuously, the scraper gets HOT. Wear gloves.

I think I am a long way from scraping an entire project – my ROS does not need to fear obsoletion – but I sure have found a good way to replace a tricky sanding effort with one that gives great results in less time.

More to come as I expand my trials.


PS: Notice the “yankee ingenuity” in my pictures. My 3/4” boards fit perfectly in my miter slot. A quick clamp for use as a bench dog/block.

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

9 comments so far

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3128 posts in 3135 days

#1 posted 05-16-2015 04:38 AM


Now that you’ve begun to master card scraping, don’t spend too much time doing it or you might end up with carpal tunnel. :-(

I like card scraping on edges too since I don’t have a jointer.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View DLC's profile


43 posts in 1043 days

#2 posted 05-16-2015 11:51 AM

A card scraper is a great option for many situations. However, I would suggest that cleaning up the edge of a board like you showed would be even faster and easier with a smoothing plane set to take a fairly thin shaving. Seriously, two or three passes with a hand plane, and you’d be done. I started using hand planes last year, and it has really changed the way I do things (I use a lot less sandpaper now).

-- Daniel, Durham, NC

View cabmaker's profile


1473 posts in 2232 days

#3 posted 05-16-2015 07:36 PM

10-4 on that DLC

View gfadvm's profile


14932 posts in 2113 days

#4 posted 05-16-2015 11:52 PM

Now make a holder for that scraper. Won’t need the gloves and not nearly as tiring on your hands.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View htl's profile


2038 posts in 582 days

#5 posted 05-17-2015 12:20 AM

Very interesting thanks!!!

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View Grumpymike's profile


1899 posts in 1738 days

#6 posted 05-17-2015 07:51 PM

+1 DLC and gfadvm … Look for an old Stanley #80 scraper plane, (I got mine for $22.50,) and enter the next realm of fine fishing.

Like Andy said the holder (#80) will be easier to use, and easier to sharpen the blade you’ll love it.

It’s good that you have become friends with your scraper, and it is a real learning curve to use one, but next you need to learn the next step and that is a smoother plane. Usually a Stanley #4 or a Record or a Millers Falls. sharpen it up and put one swipe of paraffin wax on the sole and take two swipes at the board and the saw marks and burns will be gone.

The hand plane will also teach you grain and how to read it.
Keep the learning process going, you have mastered one of the hardest tools to learn.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View gfadvm's profile


14932 posts in 2113 days

#7 posted 05-17-2015 08:23 PM

Don’t buy a holder for your card scraper. 2 small blocks if scrap, a threaded insert, and a bolt is all you need. Several have been posted on LJ.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View ratchet's profile


1389 posts in 3209 days

#8 posted 05-18-2015 05:32 PM

You might try making one of these:

View gfadvm's profile


14932 posts in 2113 days

#9 posted 05-19-2015 12:14 AM

Thanks ratchet, that’s very much like the ones I made.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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