Card Scrapers for Woodturning
by Phil Colson
Cabinet scrapers (card scrapers) are not just for cabinet work anymore.
For many years I have used card scrapers to clean up small imperfection in my turnings. I get the
line of a bowl or vessel just the way I want it and then notice a small tear out or burnish mark on
the surface. I could make another cut, but don't want to alter the line. In come the cabinet
scrapers and with a few strokes the blemish is gone.
I also use the card scraper on burls where the grain can be rather squirrelly. Most of the time I
use the scraper while the lathe is stopped, but you can use it on the outside of your piece while
the lathe is running. To use it while the lathe is running, remove the tool rest and slide the banjo
completely out of the way (or remove the banjo from the bedways completely). Hold the scraper below
center and scrape away. The card scraper removes very fine shavings. If the diameter of your bowl is
so large that the space between the turning and the bedways is too small for your fingers to easily
fit, be extremely careful not to let the spinning action pull your fingers between the turning and
the bedways as you scrape.
Consider using finger tape wrap if the heat generated on the cabinet scraper is excessive.
I never use the scraper on the inside of the bowl while the lathe is running - too
For more information on how to sharpen your card scraper, you can take a look at this
scraper sharpening video
on the Highland Woodworking Youtube Channel.
Phil can be reached directly via email at
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