For many woodworkers today, scapers are a bit of a mystery. Many of us have heard other woodworkers extoling the virtures of scrapers and how wonderful they are. Well, we decided that it was high time to spend some time on scrapers and explain how and where to use them ... and most of all how to keep them sharp. I can tell you the absolute most useless tool you will ever have in your workshop is a dull scaper. On the flip ... a sharp scraper is irreplaceable.
Before sandpaper became popular, scapers were the item that woodworkers used to put a fine finish on their woodworking projects. In fact, scrapers were so useful and popular that there were people who circulated the woodworking shops with the sole purpose of sharpening scrapers for woodworkers. Because of the sound they made when sharpening scrapers they were called "clickers".
As it turns out, scapers are a VERY useful tool in finishing wood, and in many cases, especially with highly figured woods, particularly those with open grain, sandpaper can actually supress that three dimensional aspect of highly figured wood ... but scrapers can restore the look.
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Scapers are one inexpensive tool that can be added to your list that will surely add a new dimension to your wood working. If you have watched the video, you will have learned how to keep you scrapers sharp. After you have used a scaper for a short time you will quickly get the "feel" for what sharp scaper works like compared to when it is dull. The good news it only takes a few moments to sharpen a scraper. As it says in the video, it is important to use the file to make the scraper edge absolutely flat and square each time. If you try to simply burnish the edge each time it will only make your scraper even more dull.
The best time to use a scaper is as the very last finishing of your wood, that means even after your sanding. This is particularly important when you are using highly figured woods, and even more so if they are open grained like oak. The problem that sandpaper causes is that it floods the open pours of the wood with a find dust. It is this fine dust that dulls the lustre ... the three dimensional look of highly figured woods. Because scapers don't fill the pours, they only remove the dust they can acually restore the look and brighten the finish.
One last note, remember too, that the type of finish (vanish, stain etc) can also destroy the look of highly figured woods. Some stains even have fillers in them that compound the problem by filling in those open pours and making an expensive piece of wood look like an off the shelf reject.
If you want to get your own scrapers, files and burnishers, please cick the items below to order through Rockler.
Copyright Colin Knecht