card scraper

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Blog entry by jim1953 posted 12-15-2008 01:02 AM 2624 reads 2 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Have you used a card scraper before and how do they work
I have read some on them but I wood like to ask some one that has used one

-- Jim, Kentucky

17 comments so far

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3584 days

#1 posted 12-15-2008 01:36 AM

A card scraper is a very simple tool. It’s basically a thin piece of metal that you “roll” a lip onto with a burnishing tool. The lip can be flattened out and removed, and a new one can be re-established. This makes the tool last basically forever. To use it (after establishing your edge) hold at an angle and bow with your fingers. You can push or pull the scraper. If you push bow it with your thumbs. Holding it at an angle along with the bow will “scrape” the wood as you push. If you have a nice edge you can get nice shavings. Prolonged use will cause the scraper to get hot so you may consider gloves. Not sure if that’s enough info but if not I can scrounge up more. Good luck.
BTW, Veritas makes a nice set that has a sharpening tool and a holding tool to make using a scraper that much easier. I believe mine came with some scrapers. You can get them from Lee Valley.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4094 days

#2 posted 12-15-2008 01:59 AM

I use card scrapers all the time in the shop and in the field when I am remodeling or doing a built-in.

I will have to do a video on this matter. Most articles make using one more difficult than it needs to be. I only use a file to sharpen mine and it peels off shavings just as fine as can be.

I just showed a local guy how to sharpen and use one a couple of weeks ago and he couldn’t believe how easy it is. The articles that he read only complicated the matter.

I will see if I can get a quick video out on this in the next couple of days.

Here are a couple of card scraper images.



-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View jim1953's profile


2735 posts in 3836 days

#3 posted 12-15-2008 02:15 AM

Todd is that a home made clamp jig looks like a nice one thanks Jim

-- Jim, Kentucky

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3869 days

#4 posted 12-15-2008 02:36 AM


I posted some videos on my blog that show Christopher Schwarz during his session on Scrapers: History, Preparation and Use. You can view them all at this link: .

Once you get the first results you will wonder HOW you worked without these simple yet terrific tools!

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 3798 days

#5 posted 12-15-2008 03:06 AM

I have made a home made jig to hold my card scraper and it works great. Was a scrap piece of wood with a groove wide enough to hold the scraper cut in it. Card scrapers are easy to use and they hold an edge well. Very easy to sharpen them up and keep right on making those beautiful fine curls of wood.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View dustygirl's profile


862 posts in 3723 days

#6 posted 12-15-2008 07:37 AM

Thanks for the link Al.

-- Dustygirl..Hastings,Ontario.. How much wood can 1 gal chuck if 1 gal can't cut wood?

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4000 days

#7 posted 12-15-2008 01:37 PM

You can also grind a card scraper to a profile and then sharpen. I’ve got a handrail transistion in my projects where i used it extensively to keep the shape true.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Ampeater's profile


440 posts in 3742 days

#8 posted 12-15-2008 06:21 PM

Todd, I am looking forward to your blog. I was in Berea and heard Christopher Schwarz explain his technique for sharpening scrapers, but yours sounds even easier. I have always had trouble getting the scraper really sharpened correctly. I usually only get sawdust from my scraper.

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 3622 days

#9 posted 12-15-2008 07:09 PM

Dang Todd, you didn’t tell us we were going to the gun show :)

Glad Al posted here. His video of the Chris Schwarz class is great. There is also a bit of video on youtube and Fine Woodworking. It is amazing just how much great information is floating around in cyberspace now.

I think the card scraper is kind of a mystical tool until you start to use one. Then they are so simple you will kick yourself for not figuring them out sooner (speaking from personal exp).

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3983 days

#10 posted 12-15-2008 07:50 PM

Blake has already done a video about them:

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4122 days

#11 posted 12-15-2008 08:10 PM

I’m a big fan of card scrapers.
I’ve been using them for about forty years, but more frequently in the last ten years.
My Grandfather passed on this skill to me.

I have some that I bought from Lee Valley and they are very good.

In the past, I’ve made my own from old saw blades.
I particularly like the thin steel from used Japanese style saws.
I take the old saw blades to a local metal shop, where they shear them to the sizes I want.

I generally dress the edges of my card scrapers by clamping them in a vice and draw-filing the edge perpendicular to the sides.
I use a very hard screwdriver shaft to roll the burr.
A strong magnifying glass is helpful in seeing the burr.
Careful rubbing of the edge with a bare finger will also tell you if the burr is correct.
Testing the final burr on a scrap of wood is a must.

In my rustic wood crafting business, I use card scrapers for more than finishing dimensional wood.
When I remove bark from twigs, I use card scrapers to cleanup any left-behind bark and to remove any nicks caused by draw knife.

I also like to use card scrapers when I am restoring old furniture.
They help to remove old finishes with surgical precision.

Sometimes I need to correct a finish, like when dust nibs come to visit my best laid varnish.
A deft touch with a card scraper will remove the unwanted imperfections, then I can apply a fresh topcoat of varnish to freshen the finish.

When properly setup and used, card scrapers can replace a lot sandpaper for the final prep of your wood.
They are actually mini-planes that are mere extensions of your finger tips.
You can feel the wood being shaved and can immediately adjust to any variations in grain or hardness.
However, care must be taken to avoid uneven shaving and leaving dips and marks.
It’s hard to get a tear-out when using a card scraper.

I like to tell my students:
Card scrapers, like planes, are knives that cut the grain of the wood.
Sandpaper, steel wool and abrasive pads work by scratching wood.

-- 温故知新

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1892 posts in 3666 days

#12 posted 12-16-2008 05:58 AM

I tell you what, if you don’t like sanding, a card scraper is for you. I’ve never found anything better at removing tool marks, and leaving the surface smooth for 220 grit like a sharp card scraper. I own 4 of them little rascals!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4094 days

#13 posted 12-16-2008 06:31 AM

Don’t give up on me. I am working on a project for Rita.

I was going to try and get something out tomorrow, but I should not make promises that I may not be able to keep.

I can’t stand it, I have to get out a card scraper video – even if it is not a polished production.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View jim1953's profile


2735 posts in 3836 days

#14 posted 12-16-2008 07:45 PM

Thanks to All for the Info It help a lot now I well get one an try It my self

-- Jim, Kentucky

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3869 days

#15 posted 12-16-2008 08:00 PM


Many people draw the burr to excess. The key is to do it slowly, and to an angle of no more than 10° off the horizontal. Use light pressure, and do it in several passes. You will feel the burr develop.

And a great tip: If you have to tip the front of the scraper so it is flatter than about 60° off a flat surface, you drew the burr too much. At this point it is better to start over again. You can start with the “ticketer”, as the burnisher used to be called.

The Schwarz put on a terrific session at Berea. I posted the entire session in 3 separate video episodes on my blog.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

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