Card scraper better than sandpaper?


Corporate Member
A properly sharpened card scraper is a joy to use. In many situations it is the only thing you need to use. However, especially on large panels, I would rather use sandpaper to get a more uniform surface.

Flute Maker

I would like them but the little I tried I figured they would really kill my hands....arthritis! Might have been my technique or lack of !

Steve Martin

Steve Martin
Senior User
I think about sand paper as a collection of rocks attached to paper or other sheet-like flexible substance which allows a person to rub the paper across the wooden object to be smoothed. The size of the rocks/sand get smaller as you progress through the range of sand paper ratings. But no matter how small the sand/rock size, the rocks always cut grooves in the surface as you rub the paper across the surface. As the grit/rocks gets smaller, the grooves get smaller, until the surface feels "smooth" and without magnification, look smooth. This is where we usually stop sanding.

On the other hand, the properly sharpened scraper slices a very thin layer of wood, as a sharpened plane, chisel, or knife does. So the surface is always "smooth". You just need to carefully follow the grain of the wood so you are not raising the grain which can make the surface less "smooth". It is often necessary to vary the size of the scraper blade to get into small openings, etc. or to use a variety of round shaped scrapers to match the contours of the wood shape. Sharpening the scrapers regularly will result in better surfaces and less effort to achieve "smooth" surfaces. There are videos on You Tube on sharpening scrapers. Pick the technique/teacher you like and practice until you get consistently sharp edges.

A final procedure to insure "smoothness" is to burnish the surface of your piece, after scraping and before applying your finish. Sometimes a finish will make the surface less smooth and a follow-up scraping and/or burnishing will renew the quality of the surface. The burnisher can be either metal, bone, plastic, hard wood or other available smooth material that can reach all surfaces of your piece.

Best of luck however you decide to proceed!


Corporate Member
To anyone interested: The manufacturer of the curved scraper that Jeff linked to posted an article on making your own

Pop Golden

Corporate Member
The Veritas scraper holder is a great tool, but what the heck while you're at it get the whole Veritas package. They also have a variable burnisher & A jointer/edger is added to make resharpening easy after scrapers have lost their edge. I have this set of tools and they make using a scraper a joy.



Corporate Member
I have the Lee Valley/Veritas scraper holder. It works great with a properly set up card scraper.

A Stanley No.80 is also a good cabinet scraper. Mine came with a Hock blade, bonus.

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