My first experience with cabinet scrapers...

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Forum topic by MaroonGoon posted 08-18-2013 06:38 PM 1874 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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281 posts in 1921 days

08-18-2013 06:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinet scraper scraper card scraper sharpening bahco

I have to admit that I have been a bit intimidated by cabinet scrapers. I had heard about the difficulty in sharpening them and a lot of the talk about hand tools seems (to me) to be centered around planes, saws and chisels and cabinet scrapers aren’t brought up a whole lot.

I figured the best way to learn is to just buy one and start playing with it. I ended up getting this one last week from amazon. From reviews I expected it to come sharp but realized I was wrong when it wasn’t producing even any sawdust or anything. So yesterday I picked up a file, got a screw driver to be used as a burnisher and watched a quick video on sharpening cabinet scrapers. I felt I understood it well enough so I went at sharpening it. After I finished I could feel a slight burr on the scraper but I was still skeptical of it working since it seemed so easy to sharpen (the guy on the video made it seem as if it was rocket science to get a perfect burr on the scraper or it wouldn’t work at all). I went and began scraping on a piece of walnut I had hand planed down and sure enough I was producing fine shavings as soon as I started shaving.

But who knows, maybe I just got lucky, maybe it is harder for others to get a good burr on their scrapers, I don’t know. I just happened to get it right and by doing that gained a big sense of satisfaction in doing so.

Lastly, I must say, I am very impressed that such a simple tool (regular sheet of steel) can be used so effectively even for a beginner like myself. I look forward to using my cabinet scraper regularly now that I have the fundamentals of it down.

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

22 replies so far

View Gary's profile


9322 posts in 3395 days

#1 posted 08-18-2013 06:43 PM

It’s like most things we use. Some get it, some don’t. The trick is to do just what you did. Get one and start using it. You’ve seen the video on how to keep the edge, now it just takes practice. They are great tools for some situations. Some of the Jocks use them a lot, others of us use them on occasion. It’ll be up to you how it’s used and how often. But, you’re well on your way by not being intimidated by all the talk. It looks like you really have it going on quite well

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2653 days

#2 posted 08-19-2013 01:35 AM

I agree that scrapers are not high tech equipment. I made mine from an old handsaw blade and use a file and screwdriver to refresh the edge as needed.

I do find it a lot more enjoyable to use since I made a holder for it (no more cramping hands and burnt thumbs).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View MaroonGoon's profile


281 posts in 1921 days

#3 posted 08-19-2013 01:41 AM

I don’t know why, it just felt so good feeling the scraper cut away miniature shavings. I guess similar to the way a nice plane feels when it is cutting the way it’s supposed to.

And I did notice how hot the scraper gets after a short time. I wasn’t expecting that haha but it makes sense the metal would heat up like that due to friction. What did you make for a holder?

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2653 days

#4 posted 08-19-2013 02:11 AM

Search card scraper holder and you should see several options. Very simple to make. Send me a pm if you don’t find what you need and I’ll take a pic of mine.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Robert Tutsky's profile

Robert Tutsky

58 posts in 2013 days

#5 posted 08-19-2013 02:30 AM

Hand scrapers are a great tool, I use one almost every time I am preparing a wood surface. A properly edged scraper works almost effortlessly removing thin shavings. I find that after using one for a while you can develop a technique where the heat buildup isn’t an issue. I used to use a “holder” but find the tactile use with my hands a better option, like sometimes using more of the right or left part of the scraper rather than just the middle. Using a holder doesn’t allow that benefit.

Scrapers come in different thicknesses. I have smaller sized scrapers which are thicker than normal and the shorter length I ground a 30 degree bevel and find it useful for removing glue along corner and edges of projects. Dominic has a site set up where he sells a smaller credit card set of scrapers at a steal. That’s where I got mine. If interested you can get them here: ... I am not affiliated with them but just a happy customer. BTW, since you’ll then have other scrapers to work with you can grind them into other shapes other that just straight for scraping concave and convex mouldings. Also you can make your own beader scrapers. Good luck with using your scraper.


View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2638 days

#6 posted 08-19-2013 02:40 AM

My first experience with scrapers was in college. I am an Industrial Arts major so we used them regularly. I learned to like them and used them often but I have never owned one and I really can’t tell you why. We sharpened our by bending the tang on a file just enough to allow it to hold when placed in a bench dog hole in the work bench. We would stand the scraper on the file and draw the scraper toward us. When we were satisfied with this we burnished it. That simple and they would really work well. Congratulations on your experience.

View MaroonGoon's profile


281 posts in 1921 days

#7 posted 08-19-2013 09:47 PM

Thanks guys. I’m itching at the bit to get back out there and continue playing with them.

I know you can buy a burnisher to create the burr on scrapers. I just used a screwdriver to create the burr since that is what the instructor in the video I watched used. Does the burnisher make that much of a difference? I’m assuming it does or else other guys wouldn’t buy them..

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View JayT's profile


5586 posts in 2174 days

#8 posted 08-19-2013 09:58 PM

Card scrapers may not be as sexy as hand planes, but they sure are useful.

I’ve never tried a screwdriver, but do have a burnisher. From what I understand the concern with the screwdriver is that the metal is likely softer than the scraper. The burnishers are hardened, so should stand up to the abuse of running them down a corner better. (shrugs) Dunno what’s best, but whatever works to get your burr.

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

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2146 days

#9 posted 08-19-2013 10:52 PM

Paul Sellers (correctly) pointed out that nail sets are cheap, widely available, and are made of hardened tool steel. That’s what I’ve been using for a while.

In a pinch, I’ve used hex wrench shafts. Anything harder than the card scraper steel should work. Usually scrapers aren’t using ultra-hard steel, something like Rockwell 40-50.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Robert Tutsky's profile

Robert Tutsky

58 posts in 2013 days

#10 posted 08-19-2013 11:03 PM

Ideally you want to use a round rod to put the burr on the scraper. I use a 1/4” carbide spiral router bit mounted in a handle. Works great and when I need it as a router bit, I just remove it from the handle.


View Tim's profile


3778 posts in 1924 days

#11 posted 08-19-2013 11:40 PM

You can get the Hock burnisher without a handle pretty reasonably at Highland Hardware and others I’m sure. Then make your own handle or just use without. What I read about it was the harder steel and the higher polish on it made for a better burr. If it were more than $15 I wouldn’t have bothered, but that was worth it to me and Hock tools have a good reputation.

Here’s a hook angle guide I don’t know where it’s from, I saved it when I saw someone else post it.
For cabinet scrapers etc
Guide to Hook Angles
0° Fine wood such as marquetry.

0° to 5° General-purpose wood scraping.

5° to 10° Faster stock removal.

10° to 15° Removing paint, varnish, etc

There’s also a good video on sharpening them if you sign up for Paul Seller’s Masterclass.

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2638 days

#12 posted 08-20-2013 12:08 AM

I think the burnisher would be worth the modest cost.

View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 1859 days

#13 posted 08-20-2013 02:23 AM

I bought a card scraper set years ago and got mediocre results until I watched this video :
Ng’s technique works and works well and easily. I was too heavy handed and made the mistake of holding the scraper at 30 to 40 degrees which as he said only yields dust. After following his instructions I have fallen in love with the card scraper. There’s nothing magic about it, it just looks that way.

View waho6o9's profile


8162 posts in 2539 days

#14 posted 08-20-2013 02:25 AM

Ng is great.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2945 days

#15 posted 08-20-2013 02:52 AM

great review

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