Using a Scraper

Most people outside of woodworking and even some acquainted with woodworking have not used a Scraper as one of their prime tools. That is a shame, because in the right hands, scrapers can be used for a myriad of woodworking and finishing tasks and once you use one that is properly make and sharpened, you will be using it all the time.
Scraper Uses for in Lutherie:
  • Run a scraper along a nice wood or plastic binding and purfling edge. The wood and plastic will be bright and scratch-free.
  • Use a scraper to remove an old finish and minimize the damage to the wood beneath.
  • Scrape the newly glued rosette for your acoustic or classical guitar. Easily scrape down the proud surface to the guitar plate and leave a bright clean-looking rosette that is ready to receive a finish.
  • Scrape the edge of your fingerboard to match it to the neck wood. If the fingerboard is bound scrape the binding flush to the top of the fingerboard and to the sides of the fingerboard.
  • Accidentally smear some glue inside the guitar or elsewhere on the wood? Scraper to the rescue, to do a perfect cleanup.
Pre-Made Scrapers

Pre-Made or Manufactured Scrapers

There are many other uses for the trusty scraper and you should have several in your arsenal of tools. You can either buy a set of Pre-made Scrapers. Or…. you an do as I did and make your own.

How to Make Your Own Scrapers:

Just about everyone has an old carpenters cross-cut handsaw that is just lying around and rusting. Actually the steel that these blades are made from steel that makes perfect scraper stock.

Decide on the size and shapes of scrapers you will want and mark their outlines on the saw-blade. Take a sharp hacksaw and cut out the contour (usually it’s rectangular anyway). Now lets address the scraper edge(s). Often my scrapers do dual duty. I use at least 2 of the edges for scraping. A long edge and a shorter edge on the end of the scraper.

File The Edge of The Scraper:

Clamp your newly cut out scraper blade in a vice. Now take a sharp 12″ fine file and file parallel with the blade surface. Keep filing until the entire surface of the scraper blade has been touched by the file. Sight down the blade and make sure it is dead-on straight.

Round The Scraper Corners:

Next, let’s round the 2 corners of the scraper a bit. Put about a 1/8″ radius on each end. This will keep the scraper blade from digging into the wood or leaving a line on each pass. Another method used to keep the edges of a scraper from digging into a spruce top or other finished surface is to place several layers of masking tape on one end. This will slightly elevate one end of the scraper while letting the opposite end to do the work.

Burnish The Edge:

This is the most important step. Here it is wise to purchase a good Burnishing Tool as this has the correct hardness of steel to do this properly. With the scraper clamped in the vice very tightly, hold the burnisher at the far end of the blade. Tilt the burnisher about 10 degrees to one side or the other and swiftly pull it toward you in one even motion. Note: in a pinch you can use a round screwdriver shaft as a burnisher.  Be sure to place considerable downward pressure as you do this. Make one or to more passes in a similar manner and you should now have a nice sharp “hook” on one edge of your scraper.

Give It A Spin:

Try the new scraper out on a nice piece of hardwood and see if you can create some nice wood shavings curls. If you can you did a good job. Your surface should be perfectly flat and have a nice sheen to it. The sign of a well sharpened scraper blade. Keep in mind that scrapers dull over a short period of time just like and fine chisel or a saw-blade. To resharpen, just clamp in a vice, give the edge a couple of passes with the fine file and re-burnish and you are set to go again.

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