Scrapers

One of the most useful of hand-tools is the steel cabinet-scraper, which is merely a blank of steel about 12 gauge in thickness, 21/2 in (63 mm) wide and from 4 in (101 mm) to 6 in (152 mm) long (the 5 in [127 mm] size is most popular). The long edges must be filed flat and truly square with a mill-saw or similar file, the side burrs taken off on the oilstone and the edges honed to a mirror finish. These edges are then burred over with a ticketter (burnisher), which is nothing more than a short length of silver steel suitably hardened, and the scraper is either held upright at the edge of the bench or laid flat. A few heavy strokes of the burnisher (some workers lick the steel to give it an extra bite) at an angle of about 85° should be sufficient to raise an effective cutting burr/burl which can be restored several times without refiling simply by wiping the burr back on the flat faces and then re-forming at a slightly lower angle. The scraper is held in both hands, thumbs in the centre, with sufficient pressure to bed the steel in a slight arc, and pushed forward at an angle of about 120° to the body; the angle can be reversed and drawn towards the body if preferred.

Properly sharpened and held correctly the scraper should be capable of taking long shavings of tissue thinness from even the most difficult of woods, and it is therefore invaluable for the last fine finishing, especially of veneered work. However, in scraping out torn grain or other imperfection on surfaces which will be gloss polished great care must be taken not to localize the strokes, but to spread them over a fairly wide area, otherwise hollows will be created which will eventually show rather like a bumpy road under a car's headlights. A sound rule to follow is one stroke over the bad patch, one ahead, one behind and one each on either side. For scraping difficult surfaces, especially when they are impregnated with resin glue, the floor-finisher's trick of dampening the surface with water can be adopted, while for curved work and simple mouldings the standard scraper-blade can be ground and filed to conform to any sweep.

A good scraper in first-class condition can become hot enough to blister the thumbs and some workers pad the thumb-tips with surgical tape. Others prefer the scraper-plane in which a steel blank is set at an angle of about 10° from the vertical in a suitable handled holder, with the blade bevel-ground like a plane-iron, and the bevel burred over at an angle of about 15° from the grinding bevel. A thumb-screw in the centre bows the iron so that it cuts in the centre as in the hand-scraper, and the plane is pushed away from the body with the cutter leaning forwards.

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