Scrapers, How to tune them.

Our goal is to make a scraper do this,

make nice long fluffy shavings.  Nice fluffy shavings means a well polished wood surface.

There are a lot of ways to tune a scraper.   The following is my preferred method,  and it works quite well.

The goal is to shape a hook edge on the end of the scraper.

You take a much harder surface, and deform the scraper with pressure.  This draws out the edge, which is then angled to be able to cut a shaving.   The following picture shows the concept, and shows my understanding and experience.  I  must warn you that there are a lot of quite smart, researched and experienced folk out there that don’t entirely agree with  my perception of this.  I like to push the end first, not the side of the scraper.  Then I ‘bend’ the bur over to make the hook.

The  neat thing about the hook or bur that you make on the edge, is that it is ‘work hardened’ and very tough.  You can, I have, make a bur with a less hard burnisher,  but it will not usually be as good a bur and will take more work to do.

Here are a few scrapers with a hand held burnisher,

First thing you do is clean up the scraper.  This is 400 grit Norton 3x sandpaper, good stuff for cleaning up a burnisher.

Still cleaning up.

Then I clean  up the ends.  You can put a block on  the sandpaper and  slide the scraper along it, if you want  an exactly square end.   A lot  of folk do.

Now that we have removed any previous burs, we start to make one.

First I make a few even passes on a really hard polished rod, at the normal or 90 degree angle.  I put about as much force on it as it takes  to pick up a gallon of milk.

Then I lower the angle a little bit, maybe 3 degrees from  the normal.  At this angle I make another smooth pass.

Then I go ahead and burnish at the 7 degree from normal, angle that my burnisher is set to, by putting the scraper in a slot and having that guide the scraper against the burnisher for one more pass.  If it doesn’t make a good scrape I may make another pass or two until I like the edge.

A burnishing tool can be made with a small carbide rod, an old tap, or a really hard punch.  As long as the rod does not show damage from the scraper, it is probably hard enough.

A slit and a drill hole in a stick are all you really need for a handle, or you can always buy one made for the task.


5 comments to Scrapers, How to tune them.

  • Skip J.

    Hello Bob;

    I too have seen and heard all of the hoopla for burnishing the sides first. It seems to me that you have the right approach with the edge shaping process. It has served me well over the years and I resist change just for change’s sake.

    I must say that wood looks a whole lot like that sitting in my garage. Surely you will follow up at some future date with an article on working this wood????


  • Good to have agreement on this one, Skip.
    I have tried both ways, side by side, and found no reason to change. By doing it this way, I can easily put a burr on both sides, giving me even more time between sharpening.

    Yes, it is probably from the same tree. This Juniper is going to make me a weather resistant outdoor workbench. Juniper can rust tools, but since I won’t leave tools out on it, and I clean my tools after use, I doubt it will cause me too many issues. The boards are amazingly stable, and with the wax mix soaked into it on hot days, I think it will make for a great table.


  • Skip J.

    Well Bob, I may be the only one agreeing here… the experts all want to go the whole nine yards…. Personally, it’s “their way or the highway” never did impress me much. About the only time I use sandpaper now (since buying a scraper)is for sharpening tools; and I’m switching to diamond grit for that…

    Considering my wife is allergic to the smell of our commercial Juniper (cedar fever), I’m amazed that she lets’ me store it in the garage. I know, it’s gonna be outdoors soon enough…. but it looks so good now I can’t help myself.

    So, wax mix for this too???? I’m going to have to fire up the hotplate for that, and find an old saucepan. Do you order the oil in larger quantities???


  • I have tried several brands and sources for safflower. The Hollywood appears to set the best. I have not looked for a grocery supply or bulk dealer for it, that might be the best deal, since it still seems less expensive until I get to the 5 gallon quantities. If I buy from the suppliers, I have to add tax or shipping, so I keep that in as part of my math. So far, Kroger’s is the best deal.


  • Skip J.

    Thanks Bob;

    I knew you would have the answer…


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