Using Scrapers for a Smoother Finish

The surface produced by a sharp scraper can be superior to a surface produced by even the finest sandpaper, so if you are serious about getting the smoothest possible surface, use a scraper. 

The simplest type of scraper is the hand scraper. It is simply a steel blade that is held in your hands. It is very good for getting into tight places and smoothing around knots, but it is tiring to use a hand scraper to smooth a large surface. 

The cabinet scraper has a cast-iron body that holds a scraper blade This makes it easier to use on large surfaces. The flat sole of the cabinet scraper also helps to keep the cut uniform. 

A hand scraper is simply a flat piece of tool steel that has a sharp burr on its edge. The edges are square with the face of the scraper. The simplest type has a rectangular shape. Other scrapers are shaped to fit various curved work surfaces. To use a hand scraper, grasp its edges with both hands and place your thumbs in the middle of the blade. The blade must have a slight bow to cut properly. Bow the blade by pressing in the middle with your thumbs. Hold the blade so that it is almost vertical, but with its top front edge tilted slightly away from you so that the angle is between 75 and 85 degrees. Make the cut by pushing the scraper away from your body. Always move the scraper parallel to the grain of the wood. Adjust the angle of the blade until you get the most efficient cut. 

Using a Cabinet Scraper 

The cabinet scraper has a cast-iron body. The scraper blade is clamped in place with two thumbscrews and a third thumbscrew is used to bow the blade. The blade is similar to a hand scraper blade. But the edge is ground to a 45-degree bevel. The blade projects through a mouth in the sole of the cast-iron body. 

To set up the scraper, adjust the height of the blade by loosening all three thumbscrews. Set the scraper sole down on a flat board and let the edge of the blade rest on the surface of the board. Now, tighten the clamp screws. This gives you the initial setting for the blade. The depth of cut is regulated by tightening the third thumbscrew to bow the blade. The more bow there is in the blade, the deeper it will cut. 

The cabinet scraper is normally pushed away from your body, but it can also be pulled towards you when that would be bow facing forward. Make a test cut on some scrap wood to make the first adjustments. Turn in the thumbscrew until the scraper starts cutting, and then adjust the blade for the best cut.

To scrape the surface of a board, start at one edge and let the scraper blade overhang the edge about halfway. Make one long continual stroke from one end to the other. Then move the scraper over and make another stroke, overlapping the first one about halfway. Continue this until you have scraped the entire section. If there is a particular difficult area that can't be smoothed with the cabinet scraper, go over that section with a hand scraper and adjust the angle until you get a smooth cut.


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