|Review by RogerBean||posted 03-30-2014 07:00 PM||4563 views||20 times favorited||18 comments|
I don’t do a lot of reviews, reserving my efforts for those items I feel work extraordinarily well, or might be of particular interest. Scrapers may not sound all that exciting, but I find that I keep mine close on the bench at all times and use it on just about every project. For years I’ve been using the standard sheet metal shapers that cost about $7. I have all the usual shapes.
I recently purchased all three of the new Stewart-MacDonald “Ultimate Scrapers” and these are by far the best I’ve ever used. As most of my use now is for box making, I use scrapers for shaping, smoothing and even occasionally between coats of finishing to correct minute variations. Scrapers are my weapon of choice for cleaning up inlay banding and lines and bringing them to level with the surface. Also for leveling edging.
As many of you know, Stewart-MacDonald (stewmac.com) supplies tools and items for the stringed instrument building community. It’s also a treasure trove for box makers. They are well known for their unusually high quality products, and I’ve never been disappointed.
When I first opened the package I found three little fabric draw-string bags, each containing one of the scrapers. Like jewelry. And the scrapers don’t disappoint either. Out of the bag they peel a wonderful, even, clean shaving. they’re a bit smaller, as scrapers go; very controllable and precise, without the flex one gets with a regular scraper. The machined center provides a comfortable and firm hold on the scraper making it unusually comfortable to use. The heavier weight not only eliminates flex, but feels really good in the hand. The small curved scraper is a particularly nice size for box work, as the regular size $8 curved unit is really too large for most shaped box surfaces.
These are made of D2 high carbon, high chromium tool steel, so they ought to hold an edge for a good while. They are simple to sharpen, being hollow ground on a grinder set to dead center. This means that both sides are sharpened at the same time. It also means that it is much easier and faster to sharpen the curved surfaces. Sharpening instructions are included.
There are some tools we develop a personal relationship to because we use them often, and for things we deem particularly important. We value them and tend to take particularly good care of them. My little shop-made palm chisel is one of those. My scraper is another.
At about $30 each a lot of woodworkers will discard these as an extravagance for the wannabe executive woodworker. But nothing could be further from the truth. If you seek to do the best work, and value the best tools, these should be on your bench. They may be the best scrapers ever developed.
This is a lot of words over something as simple sounding as a flat piece of steel used to scrape wood, but for those of us who really like scrapers, well… However, if you’re happy with the regular $7 scraper, by all means stick with it. But, if you like the idea of a connoisseur scraper, you may want to try these.
-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)