On my current project, an ash bed for my son, I tried to compare using a scraper
ROS for final surface prep before varnishing (T&T varnish oil). I must be doing
because the scraper results are disappointing. I do get nice, very thin curls
scraper, but the wood surface is not very smooth and has a lot of high spots
the figure as the edges of the winter wood stand out. It also takes an unfair
effort and the upper edge of the scraper is slicing my fingers like salami. The
220 paper worked better - smoother, flatter surface, even after vacuuming the
dust out of
I'm using the Veritas scraper/burnisher set and scary sharpening the edge down
grit paper, using a scrap block of wood to keep the edge square, before
edge at 10 degrees. It seems to take at least 6 passes to get a palpable curl
So how many things am I doing wrong here? Could it just be that ash doesn't
You likely answered your own question. Oak, ash, pecan and other such course
woods don't scrape as well as tight grained woods. That said, I most often
sand those kinds of wood and sometimes, depending on the finish I am after
scrape the in-between coats. The hook is not as critical as you may think,
you can scrape a smooth finish with broken glass, a razor blade or most
anything with a sharp edge. I am not saying toss your scraper or the
techniques you are using, you are doing it very well.
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I know our (UK) oak is harder than US white oak, but I scrape a lot of
it with no trouble. Ash OTOH, is a bit soft. You can do it, but it's
more critical of your scraper preparation.
The hook is significant, because it changes the method of chip
A square edge forms Type III chips. Material is compressed ahead of
the edge (the "snowplough" effect) and it fails through compression.
The waste comes off as dust. The surface can be poor, unless you take
a very chin chip. If the surface is inflexible and not too well
bonded to the substrate, then this dusty action is fine - so glass
scrapers are good at removing old varnish.
A hook forms a Type II chips. The material is lifted and bent by the
edge, and it fails along a well defined diagonal plane ahead of the
edge. Chips are soft (already folded) shavings.
On a soft timber like ash, compression of a Type III chip tends to rip
out of the surface beneath. You're better with a hook and making sure
the angle is right to keep making Type II shavings.
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OP is Canadian, no? Could be he's trying F. nigra, which is a real stringy
stinker to scrape. It even tears with a good plane.
Don't believe that bit about no taste or smell. Black ash has both in
How thick is the scraper? If the scraper is following the density of the
late/summer wood, it sounds as though you are using a fairly thin scraper.
Might want to consider using a thicker one.
Something to also consider using is a Stanley #80 scraper, especially if
you are scraping relatively large flat surfaces (table tops and the like).
Thin scrapers are used with a light touch, and are quite useful in scraping
finish coats (runs and the like).
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One possibility to consider is that you are working *way* to hard with the
If the scraper edge is smooth and well burnished, and you have experimented with
proper scraping angle,
you are probably flexing the thing too much.
This causes a lot of wear in a small area, overheating and dulling quickly. (not
mention excessive hand fatigue).
This also leaves a lot of small but increasingly noticable furrows in the
I would say to resharpen and curl a fine to moderate hook. Further, I would
non flexing pull method of using a hand scraper. If you're unfamiliar with
this, refer to
Tage Frid's books on teaching woodworking for a description.
Lastly, practice until you're comfortable on project fall offs before attacking
projects final finishing.
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