Subscribe now and save up to 56%
After becoming frustrated with a traditional burnisher (C) for turning the hook on my card scrapers, I decided to fashion my own out of an old triangular file (R).
I got my first card scraper five or six years ago in a hardware store, and was excited to get home, grab a gnarly piece of cherry to turn into a pile of fine, fluffy shavings. (That, and I really wanted to reduce my reliance on my palm sander.)
My excitement didn’t last very long – it was clear almost immediately that I’d bought a dud. I threw it in the bottom of my toolbox and forgot about it. Over the next few years, as my interest in woodworking grew, I came to acknowledge that I, not the scraper, was the dud in the relationship (I was incredulous at first; I had to buy a couple more, from different vendors, to confirm this).
Even as I improved at sharpening generally, I could never get my scrapers to perform as advertised. When I tried to turn a burr at 5 or 10 degrees I couldn’t get one at all. Using my circular burnisher, I’d bear down as hard as I could, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to be seeing or feeling (besides the turned burr itself) to tell me I was doing it right. At best, I was still producing dust.
I started to think maybe I was making everything a lot harder than it had to be. Eventually, I decided to take a minimalist approach. I made myself a new burnisher out of an old, spent triangular file. I used my stationary belt sander, with an 80-grit belt, to remove the teeth and round over the corners, then a 120 belt to remove the scratches. When it started to get hot, I dunked it in water, then turned it over. Next, I went quickly from 220 to 2000 by hand and finally polished it on a buffing wheel. It took me about an hour altogether. I kept one corner pretty sharp, rounded over the second, and really rounded over the third, giving me four options (versus the round burnisher, which only has one).
Once you have a burnisher you’re happy with, you can turn a nice burr–as a aggressive or delicate as you want–with just a couple of strokes. I did some experimenting and found that using the roundest corner of my shop-made burnisher works great. For a fool-proof technique on turning a burr using chairmaker Brian Boggs’ slotted block technique, be sure to check out FWW art director Mike Pekovich’s video on the subject.
After running the three faces over a belt sander, I proceeded to polish the faces to a mirror finish. Presto.
Learn how a simple homemade burnisher helped one woodworker turn his card scraper into a star performer.
Get woodworking tips, expert advice and special offers in your inbox
Become a member today
Get instant access to all FineWoodworking.com content.
Subscribe to Fine Woodworking
Save up to 56%
The banisher is always a better option. Always prefer it. Keep posting!
Good post. I am always interested in shopmade tools. I made a burnisher by polishing a 3/16" pin punch to 1000 grit and sticking it in a wood handle. It works way better than the screwdriver shaft I was using previously.
Veritas Tri Burnisher for me.
Got a broken link to the picture.
Go on a lumber run with Matt Kenney and he'll show you how he reads a stack of lumber to help him find the perfect board
The Shakers had this diminutive design pegged
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
In this video Michael finishes the first of the three boxes. Gluing-up, planing, sanding and finishing bring a new piece of art to the world.
In this video Michael starts work on the second box, a carved and painted Saddle lid box.
Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
Become a member today and get instant access to all FineWoodworking.com content!
Plus tips, advice, and special offers from Fine Woodworking.
In-depth online classes from the experts at Fine Woodworking.
Browse our collection of hundreds of quality plans including Shaker furniture, Arts and Crafts pieces, beds, diy plans, chairs, workbenches, tool storage, and more.
© 2016 The Taunton Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
Become a member and get instant access to thousands of videos, how-tos, tool reviews, and design features.