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Using a Scraping Plane

Sand less by tackling tricky wood grains with a scraping plane.

Scraping Planes

Before sandpaper, craftsmen turned to a scraper when they needed a silky-smooth surface. Today, scrapers still work wonders for taming wild wood grain, and provide you with a welcome break from the noise and dust of sanding.

Unlike handheld card scrapers, a scraping plane requires less effort, especially on large surfaces, and holds the blade at a consistent angle. (It also costs 10—20 times more than a $10 card scraper.)

As with any bench plane, clean cuts depend on a sharp blade, so sharpen a scraping plane blade as you would a conventional plane blade, slightly rounding over the ends of the bevel to keep the blade from leaving marks with each pass.

Adjustment screws fine-tune the angle of the blade. Tighten the blade bow thumbscrew to create a slight concave in thin blades to help eliminate edge marks.

Next, form a burr on this sharpened edge. To do this, make a burnisher guide block from a 2"-thick scrap about 6" long and 12 " wider than the plane blade. Bevel-cut one end at 15° or the angle specified for your plane, as shown. Clamp the guide block and blade in a vise—the blade can be on either side of the block—with the bevels facing the same way and the blade about 164 " proud of the block.


With the block as your angle guide, use a burnisher or the hardened shaft of a screwdriver or chisel to roll the burr. Press firmly as you push or pull the burnisher from the center to one edge while simultaneously sliding it diagonally, as shown. Then slide the burnisher from the center to the opposite edge. Repeat until you feel an even burr form as the sharp edge rolls over. Watch a video of this process.

The burr gives the blade an angled lip that scrapes a thin curl from the surface.

Scraping Blades

A properly burred and installed scraping blade should remove a paper-thin shaving. To install the blade, first place two pieces of typing paper about 2" apart on a flat wooden surface such as your workbench. Then rest the sole of the plane on the papers with the opening in the sole (called the "throat") between them, as shown. Adjust the frog angle until it's about 80° to the sole. Open the lever cap knob far enough to insert the blade with the burr facing forward (avoid dinging the burr against the plane body) and resting on the benchtop. Then tighten the lever cap knob.


For a shallower cut, use just one piece of paper beneath half the plane sole. For the shallowest cut, place the sole directly on the benchtop and press down on the blade while tightening the lever cap knob.

Now test your scraping plane on a piece of scrap clamped firmly in place, but don't be surprised if nothing happens. To peel off an even curl of wood, the frog must be adjusted to an angle where the burr snags the wood as you begin to work the plane.

The blade changes depth as you change the frog angle, so first loosen the lever cap knob just enough to free the blade. Then back away the two frog adjustment wheels by about 18 ". After you secure the frog, retighten the lever cap knob to reset the blade depth. Repeat this process until you feel the blade bite into the wood and shave thin curls of wood from your scrap.

Using a Scraping Plane

Using a scraping plane

Scraping planes work slowly by taking thin curls, so start with a surface flattened with a power planer or hand plane. As when using a smoothing plane, grip the scraping plane firmly by the front knob and rear handle, as shown.


Working in the direction of the grain, hold the plane with the blade off the work surface and the toe firmly pressed against it. Push firmly against the rear handle hard enough to begin cutting and build momentum to complete the stroke. For hard or difficult woods, such as quilted maple, start the cut while holding the plane at roughtly a 25° angle to the grain for a shearing motion.

Equalize your hand pressure on the toe and heel by midcut. At the opposite end of the workpiece, shift pressure to the heel as the blade nears the edge. That reduces the chance of rounding over the work surface.Plan the next stroke to slightly overlap the previous one. Test your work periodically by wiping the surface with mineral spirits to reveal any plane marks. If you notice any, reduce the depth of cut, round over the blade edges, or use the blade bow thumbscrew to eliminate the problem.

Scraping planes. No. 85 Cabinet Makers Scraper. Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, 800/327-2520 or Kunz No. 112 Scraping Plane (no. 16X61). Woodcraft, 800/225-1153 or Veritas Scraping Plane (05P29.01). Lee Valley Tools, 800/871-8158 or
©Copyright Meredith Corporation 2007

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