Scrapers: The Turner’s Best Friend
Reach for this simple tool when others reach their limit
Synopsis: When you develop your turning techniques, don’t forget the scraper. With this highly useful tool in hand, even a novice can smooth the inside and outside curves of a bowl, turn a tabletop perfectly flat, and cut to the close tolerances needed for fitting a lid to a turned box. Because they cut with a burr, scrapers are more forgiving than gouges and chisels. Well-known wood turner Ernie Conover shows how to grind a scraper to the perfect angle and raise a burr for cutting. He demonstrates how to use a scraper on bowls and flat surfaces, and how to grind your own profiles for custom work such as undercutting, beads, and coves.
From Fine Woodworking #208
While much turning instruction is devoted to gouge and chisel technique, the scraper is given short shrift—some turners even think there is shame in scraping. This is a pity, because the lowly scraper is a highly useful tool that can get jobs done when gouges and chisels can’t.
In faceplate work, for example, it takes a lot of practice before you can fair a perfect curve with a bowl gouge. But even in the hands of a novice, a scraper can smooth both the interior and exterior surfaces of vessels. If fairing a perfect curve is hard, turning a tabletop perfectly flat with a bowl gouge is even harder. Here again, a simple scraper will leave a flat surface every time. Finally, a scraper is the only tool that can cut to the very close tolerances needed when fitting jam chucks or fitting the lid to a turned box.
Scrapers are inherently more forgiving than gouges and chisels because they cut differently. Spindle gouges will cut a bit more or less aggressively in harder and softer parts of a blank.…