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  • Just Scraping By... A Brief Introduction to Cabinet Scrapers

Just Scraping By... A Brief Introduction to Cabinet Scrapers

Preparing the Scraper Edge

The edge must be straight, clean and at a 90 degree angle to the flat sides of the scraper. Lock the scraper in a vise and draw a fine, flat file across the edge. Be careful not to create a hollow. If there is an old hook on the scraper, file the sides flat as well. Once filed, you need to remove the file marks with a medium to fine diamond or water sharpening stone, about 800 or 1200 grit. To avoid cutting grooves in the surface of your water stone, use the narrow sides to hone your scraper. Again, be careful to maintain the 90 degree angle. Once you are satisfied that there is no hook left at all and the edges are clean and sharp, it’s time to create a new hook.

Making The Hook

Although at this stage the scraper is already sharp, the hook is needed to achieve a fine shaving action. If the scraper leaves only dust it has not been sharpened correctly. To make the hook you will need a burnisher. We suggest the Veritas Tri-Burnisher or the Veritas Variable Burnisher. Both of these tools utilise a much harder steel rod than the scraper (about 62 - 64 on the Rockwell scale). The surface is highly polished to ensure that the hook it forms is smooth and free of tears that would create scratches. Hold the scraper in a vise and draw the burnisher across the edge of the scraper. You will need to make three or four passes, increasing the tilt of the burnisher each time. A tilt of about 10 degrees is sufficient. Don't use too much downward pressure when making these passes – doing so will only create a blunt scraper. Medium pressure is ideal and will create a sharp hook.

Using the Scraper

If your scraper has been sharpened properly it will produce shavings rather than dust. Bend it slightly and lean it forward so the edge of the hook makes contact with the surface of the timber. The more pronounced the bend, the more aggressive the cut. You can also vary the aggressiveness of the shaving by the thickness of the scarper you select. Scrapers come in different thicknesses - 0.6mm for regular scraping and 0.4mm for finer work.

The friction caused by using a cabinet scraper can be very hard on the thumbs after a while. If this gets to be a problem, try using the Veritas scraper holder. It houses most scrapers and creates a bow using the centre adjusting knob. Another alternative is using a scraping plane that usually has a plane type blade to perform the scraping task. Additionally, you can select what is commonly referred to as a called a cabinet scraper Actually a variation of the old Stanley #80 plane, these hold the scraper in place and have side handles much like a spokeshave with a broad flat base.

Cabinet scrapers are one of the most effective tools in your workshop when sharpened properly. Give them a try on your next project – you’ll be surprised with the results you’ll achieve.