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How to Sharpen a Card Scraper

Card scrapers clean up a workpiece like no other tool, leaving a scratch-free, glassy-smooth surface ready for finishing. To achieve this kind of performance, you must maintain a sharp cutting burr on the scraper's edge. Fortunately, doing that requires only a pair of common tools. Here's how.

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  • Scraper

    Card scrapers clean up a workpiece like no other tool, leaving a scratch-free, glassy-smooth surface ready for finishing. To achieve this kind of performance, you must maintain a sharp cutting burr on the scraper's edge. Fortunately, doing that requires only a pair of common tools. Here's how.

  • File

    1 Select a mill file that's at least 3" longer than your scraper, and clamp it horizontally in a bench vise. With the scraper lying flat on the bench, slide it back and forth against the file until you've made the scraper's edge perfectly straight. Straighten the opposite edge, too.

  • Rub file

    2 Remove the rough burrs resulting from Step 1 by standing the scraper on edge and rubbing it back and forth a few strokes along the file. Do this for both faces on both edges; then remove the file from the vise.

  • Screwdriver

    3 Now clamp the scraper in the vise with about one-third of its width above the top of the jaws. Using a screwdriver with a hard, steel shaft, press down firmly while holding it perpendicular to the scraper face -- parallel to the benchtop. Stroke back and forth until you can feel a burr forming on each side of the edge.

  • Burr

    4 Next, tilt the screwdriver about 5° to one face. Repeat the process from Step 3 to further roll the burr, as shown in the illustration above, to give it a more aggressive cutting edge. Now tilt the screwdriver 5° to the opposite face, and repeat the process. Stop when you can feel a burr that's about equal to the other side.

  • Scraper

    5 To use the scraper, hold it with two fingers hooked around each end, and press into the back with your thumbs, bending the scraper slightly, as shown at top. Angle it forward and, when you feel the burr grab the wood, begin pushing forward while holding at that angle to produce light shavings.

    ©Copyright Meredith Corporation 2002, 2010

    •Watch a FREE video on sharpening and using a scraper

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