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Card Scraper Woes -- Help!

retired08's picture

I've been using card scrapers for years and volunteered to do a demo on them with our local woodworking group.  I had been given a set of five a couple of Father's Days ago (possibly from Lee Valley) and thought I'd work them and let the members have a hand on experience.  First problem is I inadvertently swept my burnisher ('73 Capri pushrod) off the bench and into the trash so needed to replace it, got Ron Hock's.  Decided to follow the latest advice and prepared the faces and edges thoruoughly.  Now comes the problem, the burnisher forms a burr but it is rough.  Used oil, tried light pressure, heavy pressure, slight angle, large angle, and on and on!  May get a handful of curly shavings but the rest is dust.

So I figured it must be my technique so went to an open shop this morning and had a few other hand tool guys try them.  Different burnishers, different techniques but still no good results.  I've refilled the edges, honed the faces on a 1000 then 6000 water stone but still nothing.

Needless to say, at this point I'm majorly frustrated.  Has anyone ever had this occur?  Could it be that the edge of the scrapers is so work hardened that it won't hold a burr or burnish very well.  As you run the burnisher over the top squarely once or twice and then put an angle on it you can actually feel the metal drag on it and yes the burnisher is lubricated!  A bunch of guys that tried today and especially me would appreciate any help or input.

Thanks in advance -- John


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gdblake's picture

Is this only happening with the new card scrapers? (post #170233, reply #1 of 5)


Is this only happening with the new card scrapers or also will ones you've not had problems with in the past?  I've never known work hardening to be a problem with a card scraper.  It is possible that the new set of 5 is just a bunch of junk steel.  Unless the new Hock burnisher is getting nicked up in use I doubt it's the problem.  I believe you said other burnishers were used and the problem persisted.  Has to be the steel the new scrapers are made out of.  That's my two cents.


We're all here because we're not all there.

retired08's picture

Scrapers (post #170233, reply #3 of 5)

You know I've spent so much time on them I've lost track of who's who's!  But I agree with you both that it has to be the steel in them.  I discovered an old Swedish one I inherited and will give that the once over.  This was a gift from a man who actually studied with James Krenov in Sweden so it's got to be fine old steel.  Pretty rusted and pitted now but soon as I can I'll get to it.  Hundred and one degrees in my shop right now so I'm staying in!


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roc's picture

junk steel (post #170233, reply #2 of 5)

No doubt.  Probably the steel is too soft rather than too hard.  If it were too hard you wouldn't get drag it would feel slick.  What happens when you just square up the scrapers but don't use the burnisher ?  Can you get curls for a while then ?

I sure like the Lie-Nielsen scrapers.  They are proper steel.

Could be the junk steel is from too much questionable scrap steel combined and not enough good, known, alloy.

Scrapers are like that though.  Some times the only way to get them to behave is to kill a three legged chicken and busss out the voodoo charms.

PS: don't forget to draw a circle on the floor around the work bench using white baking flour and set candles on it at each of the four directions or else all is lost.   No body said woodworking was easy.

:   )


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )

tombailey's picture

Sharpening scrapers (post #170233, reply #4 of 5)

For years I followed the squaring/burnishing approach to sharpening card scrapers and, while it often worked, it was time-consuming and dicey as to whether I was going to get a useful burr.  Then I came across this little tool made by Timberline Tool in New Mexico ( and it transformed my scraper sharpening.  In just a couple of minutes you can reliably put a great burr on all 4 edges of the scraper.  The burnisher is fixed at the proper angle for the burr so there's no doubt about the outcome.  It's become one of my favorite maintenance tools. 


retired08's picture

Thanks Tombaily (post #170233, reply #5 of 5)

Not too early to start my Christmas wish list and that looks like just the thing!  Appreciate it.


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