LumberJocks Which Tim Sharpens a Card Scraper.

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Blog entry by Tim Anderson posted 01-10-2014 05:01 AM 2137 reads 6 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So, I’ve seen tons of videos, read more blog posts than I remember, and tried myself many times to follow all the different methods for sharpening a card scraper I’ve found online. After finally getting the hang of it, I wanted to post my simple no-nonsense method so you can all sharpen card scrapers with ease as well.

It’s really quite a bit simpler than people have made it out to be.

Required items:
1. Unsharpened Card Scraper (If you don’t have this, why read this sharpening guide?)
2. Single Cut Fine Mill File (the kind you probably already have somewhere)
3. Burnishing Rod (Can be bought cheaply across the globe from Fastenal, or you can just use any hardened steel rod you find. Old Printers even have some.)
4. Woodworking Vise

Step 1: Build a ‘Fancy-Pants Sharpening Jig.’

For the scraper to sharpen properly and give you 2 useful cutting edges per sharpened side, you’ll need to square the end. To do this, you need my ‘Fancy-Pants Sharpening Jig.’ Or you could use a steady hand. but we’ll assume you don’t have a steady hand, so on to how to make the jig.

First, take your mill file, and clamp it in your woodworking vise so it’s half above the wood jaws. next, check to make sure it’s square to the top edge of your vice jaw. if not, add some shims until it is. Second, you… Wait. That’s it. You’re done making the jig.

Step 2: Square the Edge.

Next, you need to square the edge of the scraper. To do this, you press the big flat part of the scraper down on your ‘Fancy-Pants Sharpening Jig’ and push the edge into the file, then slide along its length. I’ve included some action shots of this so you can really get a feel for the motion.

Do that a couple times, until the edge is all flat and shiny, and you’re on to step 3. If your scraper is way out of whack, it may take as many as 5 times. If you’re super worried about edge retention and want to spend a lot of time repeating this process with sharpening stones of various grits, other people wrote long complicated guides about that, so you can read theirs. Mine is the easy way, so we’re skipping to Step 3.

Step 3: Flatten the Faces.

Once you’ve got a squared off edge, you need to flatten the faces. To do this, lay the scraper flat on your workbench and slide the burnishing rod back and forth across the edge. You want to try and keep it pretty close to flat for this bit, but it really doesn’t matter if you’re a few degrees out of whack.

The secret to doing this step and the next correctly is this: use about as much pressure as if you were buttering toast.

In the past, I used too much pressure for roughly everything relating to card scrapers, so instead of consolidating a nice edge, I would actually squish it down and round it off. This made my scrapers not do anything, which was frustrating when I saw everyone else making nice curly shavings. Anyways, keep doing Step 3 for a few passes at a time, and check by sliding your thumb up the edge until you can no longer feel a burr.

Once there’s no burr on the big flat face, you’re ready for the final step…

Step 4: The End.

Remember how in Step 3 you just moved the burnisher back and forth and it pushed the burr to the edge? Now you get to push it back. Again, use about as much force as buttering toast. Start out holding it flat-ish, for a pass or two, then angle it slightly (0-15 degrees) to each side for a pass or two.

(Yeah, I used the same picture for both checking to see if there’s not a burr, and checking to see if there is a burr. Either that or I’m really consistent in positioning my hand and camera for the shot. You, as the reader, can decide.)

When you feel a burr on the edges, you won. now you can push the scraper at roughly a 20-30 degree angle with one of these burred edges facing the wood (again, not super hard, more like buttering toast) and you will get fancy shavings like these.

Now you can tell everyone to stop worrying about reading twenty-page blog dissertations on card scraping, and go from dull to sharp in about a minute (including the time it takes to build a ‘Fancy-Pants Sharpening Jig’).

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

15 comments so far

View Woodbutchery's profile


390 posts in 3607 days

#1 posted 01-10-2014 07:05 AM

Wow. YOu really complicated the heck outta that ;-).

I’ve got to try that now.

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2589 days

#2 posted 01-10-2014 11:28 AM

Nice blog Tim

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2826 days

#3 posted 01-10-2014 12:03 PM

Good n simple Tim. Even I should be able to do that.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1835 posts in 1991 days

#4 posted 01-10-2014 12:35 PM

Infernal card scraper….I pull mine out every few weeks and try to sharpen it…..what the heck I’ll try your way. Thanks for posting

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View CFrye's profile


10228 posts in 1861 days

#5 posted 01-10-2014 12:57 PM

My first card is on its way from LeeValley! Thanks for the timely info Tim!

-- God bless, Candy

View terryR's profile


7166 posts in 2330 days

#6 posted 01-10-2014 03:19 PM

Excellent post, Tim! I’ve been skipping step 3…thanks for the reminder!

Love your fancy jig! I’ve been using my saw jointer. :)

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View darinS's profile


709 posts in 2889 days

#7 posted 01-10-2014 07:14 PM

Thanks a bunch Tim. I’ll have to try it out this weekend.

I really like how you simplified it for dummies like me. :)

-- They say many people die because of alcohol. They never realized how many of them are born because of it.

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 1961 days

#8 posted 01-10-2014 10:07 PM

Great write up. Esp. about not breaking into a sweat working the burnisher.

Nothing beats them pretty curls, coming off the wood.

View RHaynes's profile


112 posts in 1642 days

#9 posted 01-11-2014 04:35 AM

I did it! I made a fancy schmanzy jig too!

Great idea – makes it much easier to get a consistent edge and burr. Thanks!

-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.

View Tim Anderson's profile

Tim Anderson

152 posts in 1752 days

#10 posted 01-11-2014 09:58 PM

Glad this seems to be helpful to all of you! Good luck in your scraping endeavors.

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

View lew's profile


12099 posts in 3777 days

#11 posted 01-12-2014 04:32 PM


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Bobsboxes's profile


1367 posts in 2686 days

#12 posted 01-12-2014 04:39 PM

If you have never used a card scraper with a good edge, you are missing out out on the greatest easy finishing tool ever. Thanks for sharing.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View Picklehead's profile


1041 posts in 1951 days

#13 posted 01-12-2014 11:59 PM

I’ll have to try this. I’ve always tried to put as much pressure as possible with the burnisher. That might explain a lot. Thanks.

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View bondogaposis's profile


4754 posts in 2373 days

#14 posted 01-13-2014 04:54 PM

The simplest solution is often the best solution. Great post.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View WhoMe's profile


1564 posts in 3265 days

#15 posted 02-19-2014 04:11 AM

No wonder I have never had luck with scrapers. I have been using the burnisher way too hard.
Ill have to try this out. Bet it works.

Thanks for the simplification post. It is what I needed.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

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