Scraper sharpening

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Forum topic by ShawnH posted 08-18-2010 03:41 PM 1925 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ShawnH's profile


90 posts in 4254 days

08-18-2010 03:41 PM

This has most likely been covered before. I can’t seem to get a burr on my scraper. I have read everything I can get my hands on and I just can’t get the burr to turn over. Do I need an actual burnisher? I have used a screwdriver and an old drill bit, as read in some of the articles on it. All I get is dust, not shavings.

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

10 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3287 days

#1 posted 08-18-2010 03:48 PM

The thing to remember when burnishing the card scraper is that the burnisher has to have a harder metal than what the card scraper is made of. Really old screwdrivers were made of hardened steel but newer ones don’t seem to have the same hardness. The same can be set with drill bits. When I attempted to burnish when using a screwdriver, what I would witness would be shavings from the screwdriver, which is what I believe you are seeing as “dust.” I finally bit the bullet and purchased the crown burnisher from rockler and have had no issues getting a good edge since.


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

View PurpLev's profile


8542 posts in 3826 days

#2 posted 08-18-2010 04:06 PM

you should be able to clearly feel that burr with your finger. if you don’t feel it – it’s not there.

depending on the material they are made of , the drill bit and screwdriver may not be hard enough to deform your scraper. it has to be of harder material than the scraper to ‘win over’

Try using a harder material – router bit, or just get a burnisher – they are not all that expensive.

on a side note – be careful when burnishing not to slip and have your fingers come in contact with the scraper – it can leave a nasty cut (been there done that – no fun at all).

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

View TheDane's profile


5535 posts in 3841 days

#3 posted 08-18-2010 04:13 PM

I had the same problem … bought a burnisher (,310,41070&p=32642 ), and now I have no trouble getting a burr on my scrapers.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View rwyoung's profile


409 posts in 3650 days

#4 posted 08-18-2010 04:16 PM

You need a “real” burnisher, yes. Some inexpensive (i.e. cheap) screwdriver shanks just aren’t that hard. Same for inexpensive drill bits.

The bolster or back of a chisel may work better. Or spring for the $20 and get a burnisher from any number of woodworking outlets.

Also, a drop of oil helps lubricate the burnisher and roll the edge. 3-in-1 works. Or some nose oil of which most of us have a replenishing supply. The skin oil that seems to collect on the sides of your nose or just at the hair line (assuming you have hair) works quite well.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5108 posts in 4138 days

#5 posted 08-18-2010 04:43 PM

I made my burnisher from an engine wrist pin. Hard chromed. It’ll turn ‘em in a heartbeat. What scraper(s) do ya have?
Here’s what I do:
polish both surfgace faces to remove any old burr.
true the edges square to the faces with a single cut flat bastard file.
hone the trued edge with an Arkansas stone (just ‘cause I have one).
3 or 4 swipes with the burnisher held square to the edge, then roll the burnisher to about 5 degrees to turn the edge on each side.


View ShawnH's profile


90 posts in 4254 days

#6 posted 08-18-2010 04:51 PM

I will invest in a burnisher. I hadn’t yet because the articles said you could use thess items you already had. I have the 3 scraper set from Woodcraft.

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

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3237 days

#7 posted 08-19-2010 04:18 AM

I’ve been able to use an old drill bit, but it has to be High Speed Steel or harder metal. Just any old cheap bit will not work. I have also used the round side of a woodturning gouge, but once again, it was high speed steel. Another key as has been mentioned is to prepare the scraper prior to burnishing. Keep trying, you will get it. Once you get it right the first time, you will be asking yourself “why was that so hard?” You will also love those little shavings and the surface that is left on the wood. Well worth the time.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View swirt's profile


3321 posts in 3150 days

#8 posted 08-19-2010 04:31 AM

If you want to know a ton about the best methods for sharpening scrapers, have a look at the pair of videos by Chris Schwarz (editor of Popular Woodworking). They can be found on the bottom of a post I did here

One thing of note as people were recommending the Crowne Burnisher… in the videos those are the one burnisher he says are not up to the requirement of being hard AND highly polished.

If you are going to buy one, I recommend the Hock burnisher

-- Galootish log blog,

View ShawnH's profile


90 posts in 4254 days

#9 posted 08-29-2010 06:12 AM

I finally got it. Those whisper thin shavings everyone keeps talking about. I am not even working on a project, just scraping a piece of oak for the joy of it. I am using the tool steel from my knife block as a burnisher and it works great. I took the tool marks right off the oak and the surface just glistens in the light. Fun stuff.

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

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

10991 posts in 3606 days

#10 posted 08-29-2010 02:57 PM

A year or so ago, I saw a video produced by one of the WW mags where the demo guy just ran his scraper flat on a mill file on the bench. No burnishing. I tried it and it works well. It may not stay sharp long, but it’s really quick, only needing 3 or 4 passes and, back to work.
When I choose to burnish, I use a round, tapered hone made for for kitchen knives. Garage sale find for $0.50.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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