Cabinet Scraper Sharpening

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Forum topic by yourpaldan posted 10-29-2015 03:32 AM 1199 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1140 days

10-29-2015 03:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinet scraper card smoothing sanding scraping burnishing

Hi guys,

First posting, but been reading the forum for a while now.
Just been getting into using the card/cabinet scrapers…. Wow! I’m offically a convert.

I have 5 of them from Lee Valley and Bahco. Over the past month I’ve watched every video on how to prepare the edge and burr. I’ve methodically tried every technique, and I don’t understand the results I’m getting.
When I go through the full rigamarole (file the edge flat, smooth the edge and sides on sharpening stones to 90 degree angle, burnish the sides, then use burnisher on the edge to make the burr) I get crappy results every time. Just some dust.

BUT… When I simply file the edge flat at 90 degrees, it only takes a few passes with some pressure, then I lighten the pressure… then it works beautifully! I’m consistently getting beautiful ribbons so thin they must be a single cell in thickness. It’s so much faster too! In about 3 minutes i can do the edges of all five scrapers, and then just go to town on my black walnut table top till either it’s perfect, or my thumbs get tired. The finish speaks for itself. No imperfections no matter how close you look!

Why is this happening? Am i missing something here? I’m ready to toss the burnisher in the garbage (metaphorically). My file is the kind with diagonal grooves in only one direction, nothing special. Anyone understand this? Why aren’t people in the videos teaching this technique?

I’m perplexed yet thrilled!


16 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


10716 posts in 1685 days

#1 posted 10-29-2015 03:53 AM

I wouldn’t toss it. Everyone does it different I think. If it leaves a smooth surface then that’s all that counts.

Filing it will leave a good sized burr. It’ll be a bit tougher than a burnisher but if it leaves a glass surface then that’s all that counts.

Hell. I think you’ve stumbled onto something. Even if it’s the burr is a bit rough it would be awesome for high spots and glue clean up.

Edit: though a plane would work just as well in some instances.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile


1052 posts in 1265 days

#2 posted 10-29-2015 05:00 AM

Never used anything other than a file to get a burr in 30+ years

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle"

View BurlyBob's profile


5977 posts in 2465 days

#3 posted 10-29-2015 06:21 AM


I am about to enter your field of endeavor. I’ve been using my scrapper and believe I may need to tune it up. I’m about to buy a burnisher. Now after reading your entry I’ll try a file first.

Thank You.


View rwe2156's profile


3170 posts in 1680 days

#4 posted 10-29-2015 12:08 PM

It aggravating to me, too and just about the time I’ve got it down, I can’t get good shavings.

One mistake I was making was making the burr angle too low. The way you figure it out if you have to tilt the scraper way down, the burr angle is too low.

Also, I think I was putting too much pressure on the burnisher.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View waho6o9's profile


8516 posts in 2776 days

#5 posted 10-29-2015 12:35 PM

Sounds to me like you’re saving a step as the file is acting like the burnisher.

Good job and thanks for sharing!

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1430 days

#6 posted 10-29-2015 12:39 PM

1) I am going to try your method.
2) make your own card scraper out of an old saw blade. Good use for something named craftsman for once. This was the best card I ever used.
3) Always be ready to deviate from a process if you find a better way. Engineering rule #1: If it aint broke, find a way to break it and fix it even better.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View bearkatwood's profile


1663 posts in 1211 days

#7 posted 10-29-2015 12:51 PM

You have found a method similar to what I do. If you get the golf ball in the hole your swing was fine;) Just remember to hit it on a stone to flatten the scraper every couple of sharpenings.

-- Brian Noel

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1430 days

#8 posted 10-29-2015 01:09 PM

Wouldnt a file flatten the edge better than a stone due to the stone possibly having irregularities? Or are you speaking about the face?

You have found a method similar to what I do. If you get the golf ball in the hole your swing was fine;) Just remember to hit it on a stone to flatten the scraper every couple of sharpenings.

- bearkatwood

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View shipwright's profile


8166 posts in 2997 days

#9 posted 10-29-2015 02:00 PM

I use a file and lightly burnish, almost never a stone but my thumbs are giving up. If you are having thumb issues you might want to make one of these. Note so good for some of the hard to access areas that card scrapers will go but for flat surfaces they are great.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Redoak49's profile


3663 posts in 2188 days

#10 posted 10-29-2015 02:30 PM

I file the edge flat and use the Lee Valley variable burnisher with goo results.

View JayT's profile


5960 posts in 2410 days

#11 posted 10-29-2015 02:45 PM

If it works for you, use it.

I’ve found with burnishing a scraper there are two common mistakes. One is that angle that rwe mentioned. The other is that people make way too much of a bur—I get the best results with the bur is barely noticeable. I’ve also used scrapers with no bur at all and had success, it just takes a different attack angle (bur=lower, no bur=higher) I’ll keep burnishing because it smooths out the file/stone marks, but do what works for you. Good results are all that matters.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View HokieKen's profile (online now)


7066 posts in 1338 days

#12 posted 10-29-2015 07:24 PM

Burnishing rolls a more consistent and durable burr than filing which leaves a brittle burr. If you put the two under a microscope you’d probably see the difference.

Don’t put them under a microscope though. You’re getting good results, so you’ve found the perfect way to prepare a scraper! (for you at least) Stick the burnisher in the tool box in case you need it for something else down the line and keep on keepin’ on!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3013 days

#13 posted 10-29-2015 08:18 PM

I always get a good chuckle when I read a 4 page article on how to sharpen a card scraper. I think it is a task that gets over-complicated sometimes. I give a quick file to the edge, and burnish with a screwdriver shaft at a very shallow angle. If you get good results with the file only, then that will be a little quicker.

It’s nice to have a quick method, because card scrapers don’t stay sharp for long.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View bobasaurus's profile


3544 posts in 3383 days

#14 posted 10-29-2015 09:24 PM

Here is my process if it helps:

  1. With the scraper in a vise, use a bastard mill file freehand on just the edge to make it flat and remove any old burrs. I file at an angle first, then along the length of the file for flatness.
  2. Using a 1000 grit waterstone, freehand hone/flatten the filed edge first followed by each face to remove any burr from the file.
  3. Using my burnisher, draw out the burr by moving it almost parallel to the face of the scraper, plus a slight angle up. Pressure is the same as spreading soft butter on bread.
  4. Now I put the scraper in the vise and use the burnisher at 90 deg to the face of the scraper, angled slightly down for a very small hook. Again, the same pressure as spreading butter.

This makes a burr that I can just barely feel with my fingers and it works great.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

396 posts in 4168 days

#15 posted 11-01-2015 05:34 AM

I have recently updated the article/pictorial on my website regarding card/cabinet scraper blade sharpening:

Foolproof Sharpening of a Card or Cabinet Scraper

There is also an extra in the form of a scraping tool you can make.

Regards from Perth


-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at

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