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Making stuff: How to make a woodworking cabinet scraper for free

Updated on February 11, 2012


A cabinet scraper is a very useful tool for rapidly and smoothly removing wood. The grain of wood often runs through the body of the board, to the surface, swirls around, and goes back into the board. The result of this is that a conventional wood plane that slices the surface of the wood will prise up the grain in some places and rip it. It's impossible to produce a very smooth finish unless the plane is deathy sharp, and even then it is difficult. So professional cabinet makers use a scraper.

In its basic form, this is a rectangular sheet of flat, hard, spingy steel that can take a sharp edge. The edge is filed flat, and sometimes gradually curled over with successive strokes from the back of a half-round chisle. Then the scraper is held in two hands, flexed slightly, and pushed firmly along the surface of the wood so that the little hook scrapes off a layer. It is a delight to use but takes some skill to sharpen correctly. It can be used against protruding grain without pulling and ripping.

To make a cabinet scraper out of scrap, find a blunt and discarded hacksaw blade. Hacksaw blades are flexible but the teeth are very hard. This make it easy to bend in a slight arc without the fear of it snapping. With a smooth grindstone, carefully grind away the teeth exactly square with the plane of the blade. That's it. There is no more to be done. The ground edge will have a sharp, hard corner on it, and you can use that edge to scrape away the surface of wood - even very hard wood will curl away in fine, clean cuts.

Hold it in both hands, with your thumbs in the middle. Slightly flex it into a curve and push on the wood away from you with the sharp edge about 80 degrees angle from the wood. It will wear away with use, but you can sharpen it with the grind stone a few more times. Just make a new one when it's worn completely to the softer steel.

This tools will make a very smooth surface. If your grindstone is accurate and fine, then it's likely that you will not even need to sand the result.

Use it on flat or curved surfaces as in a carving or the round back of a chair.

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      Michael 5 years ago

      Never thought of using a hacksaw blade. Very creative idea. Have used plane blades along with cabinet scrapers (Which I agree with can be very difficult to sharpen right) Will have to try this for my smaller projects.