Hand Tools Odyssey #3: Sharpen this! (Card scraper)

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by gizmodyne posted 10-11-2009 05:33 PM 4964 reads 6 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Razor Sharp Part 3 of Hand Tools Odyssey series Part 4: Smoothing Plane Restorations »

Falling Behind
The class is about halfway through with an agenda of the following:
Sharpen four chisels
Sharpen a card scraper
Tune and Sharpen a Smooth Plane
Tune and Sharpen a block plane
S4S boards with hand tools
Cut Dovetails
Make dovetailed box with mortise and tenon handle.

So far we have finished our chisels and card scraper and worked a bit with the chisels. Our instructor has given demos on how to tune a plane as well.

Sharpening A Card Scraper
For the last two weeks Kristin and I have been sharpening our card scrapers. This was one of the things I have been interested in learning.

I started out with an old Two Cherries scraper that I had done unspeakable things to. Kristin bought a new Bahco.

We took two different paths to scraping. She spent lots of time lapping her scraper and I rushed through it (ten times). In the end I got a 19 out of 20 on my scraper and she got a 20.

Here is the basic process with photos
Step 1: Draw out the old hook.

Oil the burnisher and scraper. Set the scraper on the bench top and press down and diagonally across towards the edge a few times. Feel that any old hook has been compressed.

The idea here is that the hooks will now be pushed up by the burnisher in prep for jointing.

Step 2: Joint.

File with a single cut file set at 90 degrees. We chucked the file in our vise and pulled the scraper across it. Inspect the edges of the scraper for a nice even grind. (Some people stop at this step and use the scraper which now has a square edge.

Step 3: Lap

Using waterstones or other sharpening surface, lap the scraper. Kristin worked on hers for a long time (hours). I did as well. After jointing with the file there is a rough hook that needs to flattened. Move up through 4000 grit.
After the first sharpening this wont be a big deal. Notice that a wood block is being used to keep even pressure on the scraper.
Step 4: Hone edges

Holding the scraper at 90 degrees step through the grits to get a mirror finish on your scraper edges. This removes the rough surface left by file.

Now the scraper is approaching as square and polished as possible.
Step 5: Compress the scraper.

Chuck the scraper into the vise and oil both the scraper and the burnisher. Holding the burnisher to the scraper use moderate pressure to compress the edge.
Step 6: Draw the edge

Just like Step 1. This will draw the hook in preparation for turning it.
Step 7: Turn Hook

Chuck that scraper back into the vise. Now hold the burnisher at about 5 degrees down off normal. Use light to moderate pressure. Our Crown burnisher is round and requires more pressure than the Veritas Tri-Burnisher’s teardrop shape.

Video: Burnishing motion.

Using the scraper

The most amazing thing for me is how light the downward pressure is when using a well sharpened scraper. When I used the file method only: You have to put quite a bit of sweat into using the scraper. This scraper brings effortless curls.

Scraper Video:

Walnut Shavings

Next time: Tuning a smooth plane.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

13 comments so far

View r's profile


41 posts in 3255 days

#1 posted 10-11-2009 06:30 PM

Great blog thanks for the info. This makes you appreciate a well tuned workshop.

-- u

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3822 days

#2 posted 10-11-2009 06:58 PM

Thanks, Giz. It certainly looks as if Kristin’s efforts paid off well. Her scraping technique looks almost effortless.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4100 days

#3 posted 10-11-2009 08:48 PM

Great entry Giz. You have a great advantage to learning how to sharpen the card scraper by someone teaching you personally.

You wil find yourself using the card scraper everyday that you work in the shop.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View TraumaJacques's profile


433 posts in 3501 days

#4 posted 10-12-2009 03:58 AM

Is she single because I would marry her …wait I am oh well ! nice shavings.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View gizmodyne's profile


1779 posts in 4090 days

#5 posted 10-12-2009 04:53 AM

Thanks for the comments.

My wife Jacques. Sorry pal.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3619 days

#6 posted 10-12-2009 06:59 PM

Very well written and illustrated….....Thanks!

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View a1Jim's profile


117095 posts in 3577 days

#7 posted 10-12-2009 07:15 PM

Hey John
This is a great Blog on the sharpening of a scraper . fantastic illustration and video a great aid . I will include this blog on must see for my students.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3464 days

#8 posted 10-13-2009 03:25 PM

nice entry.

i have to ask though – why so long lapping the sides of the scraper?

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3384 days

#9 posted 10-13-2009 07:44 PM

Great blog. I especially like the drawings of what the edge would look like for each step since my eyesight isn’t quite sharp enough to see that small of a burr.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View scottishrose's profile


110 posts in 3166 days

#10 posted 10-13-2009 09:05 PM


Where are you taking your class? Did you bring your own tools or were they provided? Is this a residential program or something you do on an evening or weekend? It sounds like a great program and I appreciate the emphisis on making the tools work for you instead of just getting a project to take home. This is infinitely more condusive to learning as you take home the skills that will last. The box will no doubt be a keepsake, but the skills will be a real keeper!
Sorry I havn’t had time to read the whole blog – I am new here and yes, as folks warned me with their welcomes this is an addictive site.

View gizmodyne's profile


1779 posts in 4090 days

#11 posted 10-14-2009 06:12 AM

Scottish Rose:

Cerritos Community College has a full woodworking aa degree. This is a weekend class, but due to budget constraints the classes are Mon- Friday for the upcoming semesters.

For the power tool classes the tools are provided. The hand tools class provides some sharpening supplies and a few of the less common planes for use. Otherwise this class requires purchases.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 3222 days

#12 posted 10-16-2009 01:29 AM

Great job. Thank you very much for taking the time to put this information together!!

-- James -

View naterajj's profile


25 posts in 3110 days

#13 posted 12-02-2009 09:00 PM

I am taking 101 on Sundays at Cerritos College :)

Do you learn to do this in 201 (Working with Handtools?)

I spent 2 days of my thanksgiving weekend hand sanding the inside of my box, which sent me looking for better ways to achieve the same results.

After looking at many videos and 2 separate tries to sharpen my scraper, I have managed to get small shavings from a bahco, but nothing like in your video and it leaves scratches like a coarse sandpaper (say 150 grit)

Would you say a scrapper sharpened like yours could completely replace hours of tedious sanding? :)

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics