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Card scrapers vs. sanding

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 1437 days ago 4146 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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richgreer

4522 posts in 1679 days


1437 days ago

Essentially, I am a power tool guy and included in my power tools are several power sanders. Nonetheless, I really like some hand tools in some situations. In this post I want to talk about card scrapers. It seems like in certain circumstances you can get an excellent finish with a card scrapper as opposed to sanding. I’m curious. How many people use card scrapers in lieu of sanding frequently, on occasion or not at all? If you use a card scrapper occasionally, on what occasions do you use it?

In my case, I prefer card scrapers when I am making a small item with relatively smooth grain.

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


18 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2253 days


#1 posted 1437 days ago

I use a card scraper ever since I knew it exists :) I mainly use it to finish off milling pieces before glue up to have a glass smooth surface.

I only sand in 2 situations:

1. sharpening/honing irons
2. finishing process

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

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15670 posts in 2823 days


#2 posted 1437 days ago

Rich, I purchased a good set of scrapers from Lee Valley, along with their sharpening/burnishing set. I spent quite a bit of time and effort learning how to keep them in shape and burnish a hook on them.

Having said all that, I still don’t see scraping as superior to sanding as some people claim. I find myself reaching for the scraper in certain situations… you can’t beat it for removing excess dried glue from a joint… but I always sand before I finish.

A project sanded down to 400 grit or finer just “feels” better to my fingers than a surface prepared with a scraper. Maybe my technique isn’t as good as I think it is. To each his own, I guess.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View schloemoe's profile

schloemoe

688 posts in 1542 days


#3 posted 1437 days ago

I’m having trouble keeping sanding disc’s and belts . Don’t use flat paper too lazy. So I’ve been using a card scrapper alot latley and I really like it Hurts my hands though….....................Schloemoe

-- schloemoe, Oregon , http://www. woodrehab.blogspot.com

View lew's profile

lew

9954 posts in 2360 days


#4 posted 1437 days ago

Rich,

The entertainment center I recently posted was the first time I really used a card scraper to any extent. It really deceased the amount of sanding I had to do to flatten the slight imperfections in the glued up panels. I used the information from LJ Todd Clippinger to produce the edge.

Lew

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View docholladay's profile

docholladay

1286 posts in 1663 days


#5 posted 1437 days ago

I use card scrapers frequently. Also, I recently aquired an old Stanley #80 Cabinet Scraper. I really like the control that this tool gives to the use of a scraper. It is basically nothing more than a tool that holds a card scraper at a fixed angle. Once I got it tuned up nicely, I was thoroughly satisfied with the surface that it leaves behind. I don’t use scrapers (or planes for that matter) a lot on soft woods. The surface just isn’t as polished on softer woods as it is on a hard wood. However, on most hard woods, the surface left by a well prepared plane or scraper is ready for finish right off of the blade. The biggest reason that I prefer scraping, or planing to sanding is the dust. I hate the dust created by sanding and it is amplified many times over by power sanding. I am also much less likely to accidentally round over an edge or something like that with a scraper than I am with a power sander. The important thing is the preparation of the scraper. It really is a bit of a mis-nomer to call it a scraper because it really does not scrape the wood. If you were merely scraping, it would produce dust much like that of sanding. However, a well prepared scraper produces very fine shavings that are actually cut. This, to me, is the key to the effective use of a scraper. I also think it is important to note that there are card scrapers and then there are the scraper tools used for scraping glue squeeze out or possibly scraping paint off of wood. The later tools are scraping tools. They do not really cut the surface as much as they are designed to remove things adhered to the surface of the wood and to help get down to the bear surface of the wood. The surface left by these tools is not acceptable for finish, in most cases. However, the properly tuned card scraper is actually a cutting tool like a very finely set smoothing plane would be and therefore is cutting a new surface and not simply scraping or smoothing the surface that is already there. It will not obscure the grain with dust as some sanding operations can do.

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

View Woodwrecker's profile

Woodwrecker

3566 posts in 2180 days


#6 posted 1437 days ago

Seems like sanding works best for me.

-- Having fun...Eric

View rhett's profile

rhett

697 posts in 2271 days


#7 posted 1437 days ago

I find I use a card on edges to clean up saw markes etc. and on panels that come out of the drum sander. I do the loins share with a scraper and then sand.

-- http://planeandsimpleblog.wordpress.com/

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3623 posts in 1769 days


#8 posted 1437 days ago

Thanks for the info guys.

I find I do more hand sanding than I used to, but I haven’t gotten into scrapers yet, but they are on my list. I use a common window razor blade scraper at times on glue or hard to work on places, but I use it vertically like a scraper. Cheap source of throw away blades are its main value point.

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4289 posts in 1653 days


#9 posted 1437 days ago

scrapers like planes produce glass smooth finishes that cannot be obtained be sanding as scrapers cut the fibers but sanding abrade them.
Even a very fine sanding is never really glass smooth.
Contrary to sanding, it is a real pleasure to use a scraper.
The only issue with them is that they are tricky to properly sharpen and they get very hot when used.
If you do not have scraper , a piece of glass will also give good result as in the same way as the scraper does , it will cut the wood fibers cleanly.
Scrapers are also very good for small area that a plane cannot reach

Rich,if you have a sawmill not too far from where you live, ask if they would have a old band saw you could get, this is ideal material to make your own scrapers.

-- Bert

View Tom Coster's profile

Tom Coster

120 posts in 1442 days


#10 posted 1437 days ago

Hey Lew,

I looked and couldn’t find the info your refered to on Todd Clippingers page. Could you point me in the right direction?

Thanks-
Tom

-- Tom, MI, SC

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1380 posts in 2732 days


#11 posted 1436 days ago

Card scrapers cut.
Sandpaper abrades (scratches).

I have about forty years experience with card scrapers and/or other types of scrapers.
I’ve added card scrapers to my classes on wood finishing.
I teach how to obtain and use three different types of card scraper edge preparations.
Nothing beats a well turned burr.

Sometimes card scrapers and planes leave too smooth a surface for some kinds of finishes, especially stains.
That’s when I’ll use a little sandpaper to tone down the surface so it will properly take a stain.

-- 温故知新

View rance's profile

rance

4125 posts in 1765 days


#12 posted 1436 days ago

zonkers, try http://lumberjocks.com/toddc/blog/6753

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1719 days


#13 posted 1436 days ago

Richgreer
try to smooth a board with a smother
and then use some sandpaper on half off it
take the board in you hand and look down over the surface
at the same time you have the light from the other end
then you will see that the sanded area is dull and not alive as the smoothed area is
even with grit 1200 its still dull

Dennis

View Div's profile

Div

1653 posts in 1544 days


#14 posted 1436 days ago

I MUCH prefer shavings to dust. If it is hardwood, scrapers. Softwood, sanding. Except for all those curvy, shapely things I do. Sandpaper, no choice.
Rich, I can’t help noticing. I think we have a powertool guy who is slowly becoming a handtool guy as well!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4289 posts in 1653 days


#15 posted 1436 days ago

rance, ” Backer boards, stop blocks, cross cuts before rip cuts, follow the grain’
why cross cut before rip cuts?

-- Bert

showing 1 through 15 of 18 replies

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