Card Scraper guidance needed.

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Forum topic by Broglea posted 06-30-2010 02:45 AM 2670 views 5 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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676 posts in 2181 days

06-30-2010 02:45 AM

Hello LJ’s.

I’ve convinced myself that I need to pick up a card scraper. I’ve read some article and listened to some advice from this site. My question isn’t so much about the card scraper, but more towards the burnishing. I see at Rockler/Woodcraft I can purchase a burnisher. I was wondering if I could get away without buying one, but instead use something else I may already have laying around the shop. A burnisher seems a little too expensive for what it is.

21 replies so far

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113833 posts in 2667 days

#1 posted 06-30-2010 02:47 AM

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676 posts in 2181 days

#2 posted 06-30-2010 03:25 AM

Perfect. Just what I needed. Thanks Jim.

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113833 posts in 2667 days

#3 posted 06-30-2010 03:29 AM

Glad it helped but I just copied it off the earlier post.

-- Custom furniture

View PurpLev's profile


8522 posts in 2739 days

#4 posted 06-30-2010 03:58 AM

that was indeed a nice post Jim! touche.

as for me – I use an old hard steel screw driver, the shaft is essentially a burnisher.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2165 days

#5 posted 06-30-2010 04:06 PM

I use the back side of a lathe cutting tool. Works great.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View noknot's profile


548 posts in 2532 days

#6 posted 06-30-2010 04:20 PM

Screwdriver here also please note there is a burnisher in your wifes kitchen knife kit those sharpening rod thingys


View swirt's profile


1993 posts in 2062 days

#7 posted 06-30-2010 04:52 PM

The sharpening steel that come with knife sets usually have striations in them which make them bad for card scrapers (they are often as rough as the file used for jointing). Maybe I haven’t been buying expensive enough knife sets ;)

I’ve found screw drivers can be hit or miss. As Purplev mentioned the emphasis should be on OLD HARD screwdriver. Old ones seem to have been hardened to a higher level than many of the newer ones. The rule of thumb that I have come across is that if after you polish the screwdriver with fine sandpaper (to 1000grit or higher) so it is good and smooth (polished) if you then use it as a burnisher and the scraper leaves tracks in it, the screwdriver is not hard enough. If no tracks or evidence of the scraper has been left, then it is hard enough.

-- Galootish log blog,

View parkerdude's profile


182 posts in 2542 days

#8 posted 07-05-2010 11:45 PM

Here’s my 2¢…

My long departed father was a butcher from a major meat packing company. When he needed to replace his sharpening steel, he’d take his coarse stone and use the short end of the stone and rub all of those striations off of the steel until it was completely smooth. I did that when I bought my knives and it will last the rest of my life.

For my card scraper burnisher I took the square drive bit from my kreg jig and just polished it with 600 grit wet / dry sand paper. It’s so hard that a file doesn’t ever make a mark on it.

Good luck, you might already own something that’s really really hard and near ready to use as a burnisher.


-- dust control

View Ger21's profile


703 posts in 2221 days

#9 posted 07-06-2010 12:40 AM

I never could get the burnishing down, but learned an alternative from Fine Woodworking many years ago. All you have to do is file an angle on the scraper, between about 20°-30°.
It won’t stay sharp as long, and the constant filing will wear out the scraper faster,but it’s really easy. And my 2 scrapers still have many years of life left after 15 years of filing, and I use them quite often.

The FWW issue is #91, page 66. (1991)

-- Gerry,

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Chris Cunanan

339 posts in 2571 days

#10 posted 07-06-2010 12:56 AM

i’ve never burnished my scrapers, and found them plenty useful ‘n fast enough to resharpen when you keep a file in the vice….todd clippinger made a video about it which inspired me to stop worrying about being so super technical about sharpening.

View wch's profile


45 posts in 2048 days

#11 posted 07-06-2010 02:04 AM

Lee Valley sells an inexpensive carbide burnisher. It’s highly polished and I find it works pretty well. Although it’s quite short, I haven’t felt a need for a larger, longer burnisher.

I’ve heard that router bit and drill bit shanks can work as well. I tried some drill bits that I have, but they didn’t work too well since there were machining marks on the bit. But if you’re not looking for a fine finished surface, you don’t really need a super-smooth burnisher.

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David Craig

2136 posts in 2199 days

#12 posted 07-06-2010 03:40 PM

Any round piece of metal that is harder than the steel that makes up the card scraper can be used. The difficult part is finding the proper hardness. Newer screwdrivers will just end up being cut by the scraper, the metal is not as hard in them as they used to be. I bit the bullet and bought a burnisher from Rockler. Thought line is that I will only have to buy it once. It will pretty much last forever.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View JimNEB's profile


239 posts in 2158 days

#13 posted 01-26-2011 05:27 AM

I got a scraper set for Christmas, 4 Kunz scrapers, a leather wallet and a Kunz burnisher. I’m a little perplexed as to why there are three different thicknesses on the scrapers? Anyone have some insight on this?

-- Jim, Nebraska

View swirt's profile


1993 posts in 2062 days

#14 posted 01-26-2011 05:36 AM

Thinner scrapers can be flexed more heavily and can get into hollow regions like a chair seat more easily. Thicker scrapers flex less and may be a better choice for keeping flat wood flat. There are probably other reasons too, but that is the only one I am aware of.

-- Galootish log blog,

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Jim Finn

2012 posts in 2012 days

#15 posted 01-26-2011 10:22 PM

I have a stanley scraper that I cannot burnish. I have tried screw drivers, engine valves, even wrist pins. All are super hard but all the work produces no results marks on the tool and no burnishing on the scraper. What am I doing wrong?

-- "Just my opinion, I may be right"

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