Scraping with razor blades

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Forum topic by Planeman40 posted 03-23-2013 03:46 PM 4023 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Planeman40's profile


1156 posts in 2729 days

03-23-2013 03:46 PM

I am wondering how many of you use single-edge razor blades as scrapers.

A number of years back I tossed my card scrapers into the drawer and rarely if ever use them any more. I find single-edge razor blades to be quick, easy, and disposable with no sharpening. Just toss a dull one aside and reach into the box of 100 blades I buy at hardware stores or Harbor Freight. I have scraped entire cabinets this way and it is amazingly fast. Also, I can put a glass smooth gloss finish on a cabinet using polyurethane varnish by scraping between coats. The scraping knocks off the high spots and the following coats of varnish fill in the low spots. By watching the gloss in the reflected light you can easily see how the scraping is coming. Three coats of varnish usually brings me to a mirror finish. The razor blades don’t “load” like sandpaper. A quick wipe of the blade gets off any build up. Sometimes I give the blade a few swipes on an Arkansas stone, but mostly I just toss a dull one away.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

11 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4954 posts in 2461 days

#1 posted 03-23-2013 04:58 PM

I don’t use razor blades, but do use utility knife blades quite a bit (not so much I tossed my card scrapers). These are the trapezoidal jobs, and I usually hit the corners with a file to keep them from digging in. They get most use for finish imperfections; drips,runs, streaks, etc. I’ll sometimes run a burnisher over them to get a hook when just using them on wood.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Dakkar's profile


323 posts in 1895 days

#2 posted 03-23-2013 05:15 PM

I’ve never tried that, but I’ve wondered about the technique ever since seeing Tom Silva use it on some plywood cabinets on This Old House once. My thought was it wouldn’t be quite as good as using a scraper because you don’t have a “burr” edge, which scraper should have. Since you say it works for you, though, I’ll give it try sometime.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1860 days

#3 posted 03-23-2013 05:18 PM

For touchups and cleanups, around the house, workshop, car stuff, hobby stuff – I find myself using or wanting to use (didn’t have it with me) my razor blade scraper for something about once every 1-2 weeks. If a beltside multi-tool or jackknife could hold a razor I’d be all over that like yesterday.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View IrreverentJack's profile


727 posts in 2811 days

#4 posted 03-23-2013 05:31 PM

I’ve used them for taking off drips in finish. You can put a burr on them too. -Jack

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2891 days

#5 posted 03-23-2013 10:07 PM

One of the exhibitors at the Wood show at Tampa was a man with a different type of plane. It used razor blades and box knife blades. One of the uses was as a scraper(after burnishing the blade) worked pretty good.
I didn’t buy one as I already have more planes than I’ll ever use.
I use razor blades sometimes.

-- Life is good.

View runswithscissors's profile


2725 posts in 1993 days

#6 posted 03-24-2013 01:34 AM

This should horrify many LJs. I often scrape with broken glass. I put a pane of discarded window glass in a bag or box and smack it with a hammer. The resulting edges can be very sharp. The bonus is that often you can find the exact shape you need for a profile—concave, convex, or whatever. Usually a broken piece will have just one good sharp edge. I use them until they dull, then re-break or toss. Cautious LJs will tape the other edges for safety, but I never bother. Haven’t cut myself yet.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View jackthelab's profile


313 posts in 2661 days

#7 posted 03-24-2013 01:56 AM

I have used razor blades extensively. For several car builds (street rods) I have used razor blades to remove old paint – all the way down to bare metal. I guess poor man’s media blasting but it does a nice job and if done carefully, the paint comes completely off without gouging any of the metal. Once that is done you get to discover the rust underneath.

-- Dave in Minnesota - If it ain't broke, improve it!

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3352 days

#8 posted 03-24-2013 02:07 AM

I use them all the time. I bend them to put a slight curve in the blade so the edges won’t dig in. Nothing beats them for removing pencil marks, especially in corners. A quick pass or two and the marks are gone, something that’s almost impossible to do with sandpaper without marking up the adjoining piece that may have grain going in the opposite direction. I still use my scraper and sandpaper, but sometimes a razor is the better tool for the job.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Planeman40's profile


1156 posts in 2729 days

#9 posted 03-24-2013 05:30 AM

A couple of comments.

Dakkar mentions a “burr” edge. A burr edge on a scraper is nothing but a sharp edge . . . like a razor blade. I guess the furniture makers of old weren’t acquainted with disposable single edge razor blades and were condemned to using their old scrapers. :) And I used broken glass many years ago in my teens to refinish a bamboo fly rod. Yup, it works good too.

In case anyone reading this thinks using a razor blade as a scraper means putting one in a holder like one used for scraping glass window panes, that is not the way to do it. Just hold it in your fingers vertically (90 degrees to the surface to be scraped) and scrape away. I also occasionally use a Dremel tool with a thin abrasive disc to cut and grind a razor blade to a curved shape to scrape coves, etc. on small moldings.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Tugboater78's profile


2740 posts in 2160 days

#10 posted 03-24-2013 05:53 AM

Recently stripped a coffee table down and refinished with razorblades.. used blades to level out each new layer of poly worked beautifully, good to know that im not alone lol

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View Loren's profile


10276 posts in 3616 days

#11 posted 03-24-2013 07:39 AM

I use razor blades for fine scraping. They are not nearly as
aggressive as burred card scrapers though.

I routinely dub off the corners to avoid corner gouges.
Also tape can be wrapped around the sides to permit
localized scraping of finish flaws.

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