Where and how do you use scrapers?

Deed_Poll

Tele-Holic
Joined
Feb 8, 2013
Posts
533
Location
Brighton, UK
Hello all,

Another general woodworking question for you!

I've never really taken the plunge into scrapers, but recently have found myself coming up against some limitations with sanding (many of which might be the result of technique that might be improved).

Most notably, when sanding woods that have variable density between the grains (like ash or poplar), I am forced to use a sanding block and to proceed by hand whenever I am sanding out contours (for example). No matter what powered sander I use, there always seems to be too much padding / give between the force of the sander and the paper, and that's resulting in too much of the grain showing (for my liking) in the shaping. Am I just pressing too hard?

It's irritating, because a lot of what I'm doing is sanding out CNC machining marks, which tend to be concentrated in these contoured areas in particular, and I'm having to eliminate these almost entirely by hand with a block, and this is becoming strenuous on my wrists.

I'm wondering whether using scrapers might be an approach that better suits the challenge. My contours are "curvilinear", after a fashion - it is theoretically possible for a perfectly straight edge to contact all of the contour in a single motion - but I don't really have any experience with scrapers. Do you have experience using them? Can you offer advice to give a beginner like me a leg-up? Where and how do you use them? What to buy and try first, any techniques?

Many thanks, as always!

Dan
 

KokoTele

Doctor of Teleocity
Vendor Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
14,405
Age
46
Location
albany, ny [not chicago]
There's quite a learning curve to using a scraper, and they can be quite hard on the hands and arms to use. They don't sound like the right solution here.

I think you may be sanding too hard with your power sander. In general, you don't want to press hard at all. Let the weight of the machine do the work.

What grits are you sanding with? That might be the problem.
 

Freeman Keller

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Posts
8,058
Age
76
Location
Washington
I use edge cutting tools a lot and a scraper is just one more tool in the quiver. My favorite one was given to me by an old cabinet maker and most importantly, he taught me how to sharpen it (file the edge flat, then turn a burr with something like a hard steel rod. You should feel the sharp burr). I have a couple of flat scrapers, a couple of curved ones and I also use box cutter blades as very small scrapers for bindings and such.

I'll use the scraper after planing or sand to take out all the scratches. Some people feel that a cut surface takes glue better than a sanded one, I'll frequently run the scrapper across the seams when I'm join plates.

A scraper pulls sanding dust out of the wood - I'll always scrape light colored wood like spruce or maple before finish. I scrape my bindings to make them nice and bright, particularly when I have contrasting lines.

Here are what will be sides of an acoustic guitar. I hand planed them to final thickness and scraped them before bending

IMG_6382-1.jpg


For the final shaping of the recurve on a carved top you can't beat a scraper. I would think it would be perfect for removing your tool marks from CNC - flex the scraper between your hands and pull at angles to the grain.
 

nnieman

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 19, 2013
Posts
278
Location
ontario, canada
The short answer is no - not really.
Scrapers dont work for getting large areas flat.
They excel at getting squirrely grain that hand planes would tear out.

I use scrapers a lot for after the chisel when I am carving tops.

I also use a scraper when carving a neck - after I rough out with a rasp.

A scraper really shines are knocking down the little flats left by the teeth of the rasp - so it might work for knocking down the ridges left by the cnc.

I mostly use a thin card scraper that came free with a subscription to fine woodworking.
Similar to these but without the fancy accessories
https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/sho...apers/61448-veritas-scraping-set?item=05K3320

I also use the curvy one that lee valley sells for scraping binding/smoothing carved tops.
https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/sho...pers/32644-burnisher-scraper-set?item=05K2031

You use them by flexing them with your thumbs and pushing or pulling....so you are not using the whole edge of the scraper, just a bit in the middle.

Nathan
 

Peegoo

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Posts
11,174
Location
Challenging Definitions of Sin
A scraper is great for flat surfaces and detail work on curved surfaces. I use them pretty much only on figured woods to increase the "3D" effect created by open pores. Sandpaper doesn't work as well for this because it folds over (abrades) the ends of the pores. A properly burnished scraper slices the wood.

When I'm sanding contours on wood with varying hardness (swamp ash is a big one in this category), I fortify the soft/open grain with water-thin CA before I hit it with the paper. The CA soaks in, sets up, and sands perfectly flat with minimal pressure. You can certainly do it without the CA, but it takes a very light touch and a certain level of finesse that only comes with lots of practice and experience.
 

Boreas

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Posts
6,955
Age
66
Location
Adirondack Coast, NY
Hello all,

Another general woodworking question for you!

I've never really taken the plunge into scrapers, but recently have found myself coming up against some limitations with sanding (many of which might be the result of technique that might be improved).

Most notably, when sanding woods that have variable density between the grains (like ash or poplar), I am forced to use a sanding block and to proceed by hand whenever I am sanding out contours (for example). No matter what powered sander I use, there always seems to be too much padding / give between the force of the sander and the paper, and that's resulting in too much of the grain showing (for my liking) in the shaping. Am I just pressing too hard?

It's irritating, because a lot of what I'm doing is sanding out CNC machining marks, which tend to be concentrated in these contoured areas in particular, and I'm having to eliminate these almost entirely by hand with a block, and this is becoming strenuous on my wrists.

I'm wondering whether using scrapers might be an approach that better suits the challenge. My contours are "curvilinear", after a fashion - it is theoretically possible for a perfectly straight edge to contact all of the contour in a single motion - but I don't really have any experience with scrapers. Do you have experience using them? Can you offer advice to give a beginner like me a leg-up? Where and how do you use them? What to buy and try first, any techniques?

Many thanks, as always!

Dan

Scrapers are great tools for woodworking, but still is a strain on your hands. The best way to learn how to use one is have a cabinetmaker or woodworker show you. You can have perfect technique, but if you can't draw a burr properly, you are scrod.
 

Meteorman

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Dec 23, 2012
Posts
1,091
Location
State College PA
I've gone to using scrapers almost exclusively, unless it's 120 grit to remove/shape material.
Scrapers are cleaner (less dust) and leave a better surface - what's not to like ?
I use carpet knife or utility knife blades almost exclusively for guitar-scale and gun-scale work.
To create the burr: Lube up a wide sharpening stone or waterstone, stand the blade on it's cutting edge perpendicular to the stone, tilt the top away from you about 20-30 degrees off vertical, and push the blade with your thumbs along the length of the stone.
Only moderate down pressure needed.
Repeat about 3-4 times.
Then scrape away.
It's all in the angle of the blade on the wood, it's easy to get the hang of it, by feel, and results in nice clean shavings.
A given blade can be re-burred about 3-4 times, then toss it and grab a new one.
But this is mostly for creating a finished surface - I feel scrapers are not ideal for removing material efficiently, and they can actually exacerbate irregularities depending how you orient the blade to the dips and bumps
 

Piggy Stu

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 26, 2017
Posts
4,986
Location
UK
My problem with scrapers is when I lose concentration and they chatter

I have a zen like idea about woodworking, that any route to the final shape is a legit technique. Rasps, surforms, paper, axe: so long as it finishes right, I like going the unexplored path
 

RickyRicardo

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Posts
3,822
Location
Calgary, Alberta
I use them for neck contours after rough shaping. I find they take away the minor variations and get the surface more even. Plus they remove a lot of file marks. I use a utility blade for binding.
 

old wrench

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 2, 2017
Posts
2,864
Location
corner of walk and don't walk
Scrapers are not really the tool for bulk material removal.

There are better tools for that purpose.

But for some finer operations - they are the best tools.

It's also possible to scrape a large surface area down to dead flat - it's an old procedure that's not limited to just woodworking - it was even employed by metalworkers.

The art of scraping is sort of like the art of filing - finding the best angle and pressure to achieve the goal.

It's definitely a technique worth learning - and learning to maintain a proper edge on your scrapers too.

Another arrow in the quiver ;)

A scraper blade is like a very fine wood plane - only with better accuracy :)


.
 

Jim_in_PA

Friend of Leo's
Silver Supporter
Joined
May 31, 2019
Posts
2,966
Location
SE PA - Doylestown PA
Scrapers can be an indispensable tool in the shop for exactly the things that you are fretting about. (pardon the expression...) In addition to the more traditional thin scrapers in all kinds of shapes, I'm really enjoying the thicker scrapers that I got from StewMac awhile back...they actually get a lot of use on non-guitar projects.
 

mfguitar

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Aug 12, 2008
Posts
2,007
Age
61
Location
Buffalo
The old-time furniture makers only had scrapers sandpaper was not around. The real trick in scrapers is learning how to get the proper edge, I'm still working on that. A good scraper will give you a surface that you just can't get with sandpaper.
 

Obsessed

Telefied
Silver Supporter
Joined
Nov 21, 2012
Posts
30,217
Location
Montana
I’m in the process of restoring an antique chopping block, splitting it into 12 slabs of glued wood. I am under the tutelage of a German cabinet maker at his shop. So far, all I can say is using a scraper is hard work. I have already seen the light of how good it works, but it takes time and practice to get good at it and actually the sharpening of the scraper is half of the techniques to learn.
 

ChicknPickn

Friend of Leo's
Silver Supporter
Joined
Apr 16, 2007
Posts
2,017
Location
Ole Virginny
They work beautifully on the sides of the Tele, following the contours. Sometimes, they do a better job of flattening a lacquer drip or sag than sandpaper.
 




Top