Scraper Madness - Looong

I just finished an 8/4 cherry mantel for a women that wanted a traditional hand planed look, and boy did I spend some time with my cabinet scrapers! The boss did the bulk of the actual planing, and then cut me loose to clean up the wild grain. Unfortunately we don't have a scraper plane. (LV here I come...when I get more $$$ this is on its way - http://tinyurl.com/29qz5 ).
As such, I put my existing LV scrapers/jointer/variable burnisher to work and knocked down the rough spots with thumb power. They worked phenomenally well, and I wore my best "I told you so" look for those that had been giving me disparaging looks while I took 15 minutes to get them all honed and hooked properly.
A couple of observations. The first rule of scraping is to tune your scrapers. The second rule of scraping is TO TUNE YOUR SCRAPERS!! Once you get them sharp, things go much easier. I started by looking for areas of obvious tear out, and went at them with a fairly thin scraper so I could really localize my efforts without killing myself keeping the blade flexed. (Note: While the jointer/burnisher from Veritas worked excellently, I abandoned their scraper holder for this task, as it didn't allow me enough control for really localizing my work - which I wanted to do to avoid too much flattening out of the wavy plane marks.) Once the deeper divots were removed, I'd take a couple of longer, wider passes to sort of even out the crater, so to speak. You've got to play with the angle of attack as well as the direction of scraping to really get a clean cut, and you can't be timid about it. I try to really get the scraper moving and then ease it down into and then out of the workpiece. The learning curve was steep for me, thank god!
Once I'd gone over all of the obvious dents, dings and gouges, I moved along to the noticeably rough areas of raised grain. These I attacked with a somewhat thicker scraper, using a few longer, harder passes. When using a fresh edge, it cut like a dream, and the was really all it took. After that, I took a break.
Upon return, I took some 220 and lightly went over the whole thing. This revealed other, less noticeable rough spots, which I handled the same way as above. Again, be careful of the grain. With knot holes I generally found the working from the center out was the best, but there were exceptions. You'll probably get it *close* to perfect a couple of times, only to ruin it with just *one more scrape". DAMHIKT.
After the surface was smoothed, we finished it off with some 220, and then oiled it. It looks EXCELLENT! What a beautiful piece of wood. I swear if I fondled LOML the same as that piece of cherry I'd get breakfast in bed every morning.
IMPORTANT PART: Scrapers have 8 edges, all of which_can_be used. I found that I prefer to slightly round off the corners, as the long edges are bowed anyays, and with with the shorter ones (which I really don't use) you don't want to snag the corner and create a groove. What I do is put a piece of tape on each side, and mark the hook angle setting I used on the variable burnisher. I found that if I went over 6 or 7 degrees it just grabbed too much, so all were done from 2 to 5 degrees. I also marked each of the long edges 1 through 4. This worked excellently for me, as I didn't have to fumble around trying to find a sharp edge each time. I'd just start at 1, and when it got dull I'd flip it to 2 and so on. What I'lll probably do is get a dozen or so different scrapers, number each edge with an etcher, and also mark the hook angle I'm keeping it at. When I really get organized, I'll label each thickness as well. Then I can just mark in my journal that the "0.6 mil 4 deg hook scraper took out knot marks like a champ on Mrs. Havisham's cherry mantel". When I get truly insane, I'll even mark the hardness of the scraper on there.
How satisfying to see that first coat of finish bring life to that mantel. <sigh> I believe I've found my calling....
JP ************************************* .6m 4deg Rc50
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Thanks for the great info and tips on scraping. Your post is going in my Wreck scrapbook. Better then any book I ever read!
Regards,
Kevin B.

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Oh boy, are you gonna love that. :-) I've been using mine a lot recently, and I really, really, *really* like the flexibility of being able to use a thick blade or a thinner one that can be bowed like you would a card scraper or a cabinet scraper (#80). It's a very sweet tool.

Yep, as far as getting it sharp, treat it just like you would a plane's iron. Concentrate on the edges first, and then come back and hone the faces. Repeat until it is as sharp as you can get it.

You really shouldn't have to overdo it to concentrate your efforts in one area. Just keeping your thumbs behind the blade and giving a good solid grip to it should give you enough bow to hit small areas. (BTW, LV also sells a set of tiny scrapers that I have played around with for various uses. They come in handy for touching up non-flat surfaces, for example.)

Yeah, the holder is one tool from LV/Veritas that I've never really used a lot. It's probably a good idea, but I find that it interferes with my ability to "turn on a dime" and adjust the angle, bow and pressure depending on the grain I encounter. (And I usually reach for a scraper when I'm having trouble with my various smoothers, or when I need to just focus on a small area.)

It's definitely important to keep the scraper moving and going down and off in a continuous motion. If you try to start it from a standstill, you'll get marks at the beginning of your stroke.

Oh yeah, that's happened to me before, but usually with a #80 style cabinet scraper.
But what's up with using 220 to "touch up" your scraper work? :-) If you're doing it right, the sandpaper isn't likely to improve the surface any.

While I appreciate your enthusiasm, you really don't need to be quite that scientific about it. :-) Once you get the hang of it, you can use a simple burnisher and make a couple of passes on each of the four sides (I don't bother with the ends), and then feel the hook. Draw one hook to be more extreme than the others, and work your way back so that you've got one heavy-duty hook and the other three are all progressively less acute.
You'd be surprised at how easy it is to tell the difference between the degree of hook simply by drawing your finger across it (obviously being careful to go at an angle to prevent slicing your finger). Anyhow, congrats on your scraper epiphany. You'll probably find yourself looking for excuses to use the things now.
And when you get that Veritas/LV scraper plane, you'll most likely fall in love. :-)
Chuck Vance
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On 23 Feb 2004 16:35:27 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@swt.edu (Conan the Librarian) wrote:

I learned the technique of using 400 grit to find where I wasn't done scraping. The 400 leaves white powder in tearout and mill marks that I might not see until later, when I wipe things down with mineral spirits. I find the 400 helps me to do a better job at not missing anything. Rarely to I find anything missed with the mineral spirits if I do the 400 pass. I literally give the surface two swipes with the sanding block.
Barry
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OK, that makes sense. I'm rarely in a situation where milling marks would come into play, as I plane them away as part of stock prep. But I do sometimes wind up with localized spots of tearout. However, I don't recall missing them, as they all seem glaringly obvious to me. :-}
Another little trick that might come in handy for preventing tearout in the first place when planing is to hit the surface with a spitcoat of shellac (about 1/2# cut). It seems to stiffen the wood fibers just enough so they are severed more cleanly. (This tip was brought to you by the dearly-missed Paully Rad, the original Shellacpimpmeister.)
Chuck Vance
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