Custom Scrapers for Custom Work
Shopmade scrapers smooth tough-to-reach surfaces without dulling sharp details
Synopsis: Smooth ornery grain in tight spaces with shopmade scrapers. They are simple to make and come in handy when creating a profile with intricate details and crisp edges that would be ruined by sandpaper. Coves and fillets, inside corners, and beadwork all benefit from these tools. They also do a great job removing squeeze-out.
Few tools are as simple as a card scraper, or as versatile and effective. It’s just a rectangle of flexible steel with a fine burr for a cutting edge, but it can perfectly smooth the most ornery grain. I take that basic idea a bit further, making custom scrapers of all kinds. Typically these small tools, for working in tight places, have curved or angled edges, and most of the time no burr at all. These shopmade scrapers are some of my most useful tools.
Better than sandpaper
What makes a scraper so useful is its ability to cut a very fine shaving in any direction, against or with the grain, around curves as well as on flat parts, and to cut well at any angle to the surface. Scrapers can level flat surfaces and fair shaped ones. And a well-sharpened scraper cuts more quickly and cleanly than sandpaper, with more control.
My collection of custom scrapers can be divided into two categories: those with straight edges and those with curved edges. Straight edges generally work best on flat areas, such as when scraping squeezeout from a joint or lightly leveling a surface after applying finish. Some of my straight scrapers have corners where the edges meet just shy of 90° to allow me to reach into tight corners easily.
My curved-edge scrapers can smooth any concave or convex surface, stepping in after a router or molding plane does its work. My most basic scrapers have simple round shapes for such tasks as fine-tuning a mitered corner in a cove molding. A few have a combination of shapes that fit a whole molding profile. They take longer to make, but they are especially useful for fairing and smoothing curved moldings. Oftentimes, though, I’ll use a handful of different shaped scrapers on complex moldings instead of trying to file multiple shapes onto one tool.
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