sand paper vs scraping

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Forum topic by shelly_b posted 11-02-2012 10:08 PM 1486 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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848 posts in 1205 days

11-02-2012 10:08 PM

I recently bought some scrapers and while they seem to be faster than using a random orbital, the sand paper seemed to leave a smoother (feeling) surface, so I sanded after I sraped. What are some of the pros and cons of finishing with each, and which do you prefer? I was using oak, if that makes a difference.

19 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 2245 days

#1 posted 11-02-2012 10:23 PM

The surface feels smooth after sanding because you are just knocking the fibers down. It abrades. With a scraper, you are taking the fibers clean off. Touching it, it’s like when you rub your head after a buzz cut…you feel the ends of the fibers. But that does not mean its not smooth (or even) just means that sandpaper makes it feel pillowy because you aren’t feeling the ends of the fibers.

I have gotten to the point where I save my sandpaper for finish work. My scrapers do the prep-work. It makes for more consistent finishes, IMO. With sandpaper, there’s any number of swirls and scratches that I inevitably impart to the work, including rounding over corners when I don’t want to.

“Smooth” occurs after the first finish coat, when the wood is sealed. So, feeling the wood before finishing doesn’t mean anything. Prep-work should focus on getting rid of tool marks, not “smoothness.” This is why there’s really no reason to sand past 120 grit or so when prepping for finish.

-- jay,

View paratrooper34's profile


787 posts in 2039 days

#2 posted 11-02-2012 11:13 PM

Shelly the biggest con of sandpaper that drives me to stick with my scrapers or smooth planes is dust. I cannot stand the mess plus I do not like to wear any type of mask when I am working and I am sure any wood dust is going to be detrimental to good lung health. With scrapers and planes, no dust at least if the tools are tuned right).

-- Mike

View GrandpaLen's profile


1622 posts in 1359 days

#3 posted 11-03-2012 12:08 AM


Here are a couple of good articles on Scrapers, use and sharpening, you may find interesting.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View NormG's profile


5086 posts in 2091 days

#4 posted 11-03-2012 12:22 AM

Scrapers are the best, sandpaper for those areas you can’t get to with a scraper

-- Norman

View Loren's profile


7967 posts in 2735 days

#5 posted 11-03-2012 12:57 AM

You can sharpen scrapers in different ways to get different
levels of aggressiveness and finish. When I scrape I finish
rough spots with razor blades held at about 90 degrees
to the surface. The edge doesn’t last, but the scraped
surface can be pretty fine. A whisk here and there
with 220 grit paper and you’re good to finish with some
fine woods after scraping.


View shelly_b's profile


848 posts in 1205 days

#6 posted 11-06-2012 04:08 PM

Thanks everyone. Im gonna have to make some test peices with sanding and scraping and then finish them and see how they come out

View JohnChung's profile


347 posts in 1161 days

#7 posted 11-06-2012 05:30 PM

I would use a scraper first then sandpaper. Using a scraper is faster and save money on sandpaper.

View Harryn's profile


30 posts in 1675 days

#8 posted 11-08-2012 10:40 PM

I got tired of sharpening scrapers, so I use pieces of fresh cut window glass. Works great.

View EPJartisan's profile


1113 posts in 2212 days

#9 posted 11-09-2012 12:05 AM

If you get really good at scrapers, I find that an old chisel with a burnished edge is great for glue squeeze out in corners… but the hands down best reason I prefer scrapers over sand paper… I have 10 scrapers (half of which are always waiting to be sharpened, lol)... but I have spent a total of less than $30 over the last decade… there is no way of knowing how much $$$$$ on sand paper.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View Scott's profile


65 posts in 2416 days

#10 posted 11-09-2012 12:18 AM

Here is a reasonable description of the planing, scraping, sanding process by Schwarz and Charles H. Hayward:

Schwarz Blog @ PWW

-- Scott

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 2381 days

#11 posted 11-09-2012 07:10 AM

I got tired of sharpening scrapers, so I use pieces of fresh cut window glass. Works great.

Phew, I don’t know about that. Do you wear chain mail gloves?

-- LAS,

View Manitario's profile


2386 posts in 1970 days

#12 posted 11-09-2012 08:25 AM

Lol Luke, I thought the same thing! Shelly; I’ve used scrapers on a couple of projects, they are certainly quicker than sanding, but I still finish sand the surface to 220. I wish I was proficient enough and patient enough to use scrapers and planes exclusively for my projects, but the endless sharpening that comes with using scrapers gets old fast.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View shelly_b's profile


848 posts in 1205 days

#13 posted 11-09-2012 02:17 PM

yeah, I need to look into how to sharpen them correctly lol…

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 2245 days

#14 posted 11-09-2012 02:29 PM

It takes me about 2 minutes to sharpen a scraper. And that’s with one hand tied behind my back. That said, right now my main scraper needs some sharpening and I’ve currently gone longer than I should have. It’s amazing how lazy I get sometimes.

-- jay,

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 1988 days

#15 posted 11-09-2012 02:39 PM

Thank you to Cosmicsniper for the very helpful mini-tutorial!

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

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