The Zen of Card Scraping

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 10-24-2009 06:21 AM 4437 reads 14 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was making some veneer panels in the shop. I had resawn the lumber, matched the grain, and glued up the 1/8” thick pieces. After all this I had to scrape the excess glue from the joint in the middle of the panel.

Outside was a cool but sunny autumn day here in Billings, MT. The double doors face south and I had them open. I started scraping the veneer panel glue joints and all you could hear was shhhhhhck, shhhhhhck, shhhhhck.


The veneer panels are made of curly maple and the card scraper handled it with ease. I seemed to achieve that moment of nirvana. No power tools. No stereo. Just me, the panels, and a card scraper producing angel hair curls. It seemed that everything in the universe lined up and I was working in that sweet zone that woodworkers dream of.


Of all the very cool tools that I own, the card scraper is absolutely my favorite tool in the shop. I even use it more than my hand planes. It is such a simple and efficient tool to use. I marvel over the results of this simple tool every time I use it.


I use the most simple method for sharpening the card scraper and I love sharing it because I know how frustrating it can be to figure out.

I know many have seen the video, but I have to post it again for those that may have not seen it yet. I just want others to enjoy using the card scraper like I do.

One more thing before I go, notice how naked the back of my hand and wrists are in the first picture. I recently sharpened all of my chisels. I LOVE sharp chisels!

Share the Love~Share the Knowledge

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

25 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


113725 posts in 2614 days

#1 posted 10-24-2009 06:23 AM

Thanks Todd

-- Custom furniture

View KevinVan's profile


91 posts in 2188 days

#2 posted 10-24-2009 06:59 AM

I’m going to try your method….Thanks for Posting…

-- ALS IK KAN “to the best of my ability,”

View scrappy's profile


3506 posts in 2468 days

#3 posted 10-24-2009 08:22 AM

Been there done that. Your video is why I invested in AND use my card scraper. Thank you for sharing the reminder for those that don’t know the ease of use this simple tool has.

Curly Maple has an interesting grain and the card scraper works very well on things like that. I use mine the most on Inlay work. The grain is going in all dirrections and the card scraper can handle it with ease.

Thank You


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2859 days

#4 posted 10-24-2009 01:21 PM

Thanks for posting this again, Todd. I had struggled with using my card scrapers and was not satisfied with my performance until I started using the process that you demonstrated with this video. Now I use it routinely to prep raw wood and panels before sanding.

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

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 2976 days

#5 posted 10-24-2009 02:30 PM

Gotta love those Zen moments. Nothing but peace and productivity.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Karson's profile


34986 posts in 3438 days

#6 posted 10-24-2009 03:46 PM

Great posting again. Thanks.

I see you are using the resawn cutoffs from your tabls.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8800 posts in 3137 days

#7 posted 10-24-2009 04:16 PM

Cessna – I did not even cover that one but I do use it to fix finish defects as well. For fixing finish defects I also use a single edge razor as a mini scraper or a chisel.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Blake's profile


3441 posts in 2912 days

#8 posted 10-24-2009 06:48 PM


-- Happy woodworking!

View Richforever's profile


741 posts in 2757 days

#9 posted 10-24-2009 10:13 PM

Thanks for sharing the zen!

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View RockyTopScott's profile


1184 posts in 2516 days

#10 posted 10-24-2009 11:30 PM

Great video…what type file are you using and any particular type of scrapers you prefer?


-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8800 posts in 3137 days

#11 posted 10-24-2009 11:58 PM

I use either a single cut 10 or 12 mill bastard file. I have both and either works.

Card brand does not matter.

I also wrote a blog covering the same thing and you may see it here.

You will find some pictures of the card scrapers that may help.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3749 posts in 2202 days

#12 posted 10-24-2009 11:58 PM

Thanks Todd for the instruction. Didn’t know much before seeing this, but now I feel comfortable about buying and starting to use card scrapers.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View poroskywood's profile


618 posts in 2401 days

#13 posted 10-25-2009 02:07 AM

Thanks Todd, I’ll be getting a card scraper, it looks like it would definitely save me some sanding time!

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View blackcherry's profile


3230 posts in 2860 days

#14 posted 10-25-2009 04:35 AM

One of my all time favorite tools…bullet proof it never need charging, easy on the ears, and I can hear my favorite music in the shop yes sir this is fine woodworking. Share the love…Blkcherry

View Mark's profile


316 posts in 3171 days

#15 posted 10-25-2009 03:19 PM

Thanks. Card scrapers have become one of my favorite tools in the finishing process. They work exceedingly well, are easy to sharpen and the peace and quite is exquisite. I will try your sharpening method on the piece I’m currently working on. Thanks again.

-- Mark

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