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Auriou, a French company that has been producing high-quality, hand-cut rasps since 1856, is one of the few companies in the world still doing so. These abrading tools are used for sculptural shaping and detail work. Unlike a file, which has long rows of teeth across the width of the tool, rasps have smaller teeth cut all over the face. Auriou makes an array of rasps in different shapes and sizes, all with varied stitching (the number of teeth) and grain (the size of teeth). They also make left- and right-handed versions.
One advantage of hand-cut rasps is the way the teeth are positioned on the surface of the tool. Because the placement of the teeth varies, the result is a chatter-free cut. Auriou rasps, unlike machine-made rasps, have teeth up to the edges of the tool, allowing you to cut all the way into a corner. The teeth also extend to the tapered tip of the tool, enabling use in hard-to-reach places.
I tested an 8-in. Auriou cabinetmaker’s rasp (with a fine No. 13 grain cut, flat on one face, half-round on the other) on some Chippendale chairs I was working on. The rasps made quick work of cleaning up and perfecting the shapes on the pierced back splat and sculpting the crest rail.
Woodworkers who do a lot of sculpting and shaping may want to consider the advantages of Auriou rasps. The only disadvantage of these rasps is their cost. The cabinet rasp I used sells for $80, roughly twice what you’d pay for a quality machine-made tool. Auriou rasps are available from www.toolsforwoodworking.com (800-426-4613) and from www.thebesthings.com (800-884-1373).
Editor’s Note: The information in this article was updated on 1/20/2009. After closing its doors in October 2007, Auriou resumed operations in November 2008, and tools are once again in full production, being made at Forge de St Juery (FSJ) which is the new name for the old Auriou Toolworks. After the company’s reopening, the 8-in. Auriou cabinetmaker’s rasp, which was featured in this article, was replaced by the the 9-in. cabinet rasp, a similar model that sells for $114.19. Auriou rasps are available from www.forge-de-saint-juery.com.
—Chris Gochnour makes furniture in Washington, D.C.
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