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Auriou Rasps - Tool Review

by Jeffrey Fleisher
New Market, VA

I always shied away from using rasps in my woodworking because they always seemed to gouge the surface or leave it rough with long linear scrapes. That was until I took a class on building a Sam Maloof-style rocking chair and was introduced to Auriou rasps. Auriou rasps are handmade rasps from a small company in France. Auriou has been producing high-quality, hand-cut rasps since 1856. They closed for a short time in 2007 but reopened their doors in 2008 at Forge de St. Juery, the actual name of the new company.

'Stitching' from Auriou website
A major advantage of a hand cut rasp is the way the teeth are positioned on the surface of the tool. Cutting the teeth is called 'stitching' and hand stitching is done on a polished, forged blank with a traditional rasp-maker's hammer and a special pick called a barleycorn pick. Hand-cut teeth have a slight randomness that produces a smooth, chatter-free cut. The teeth are cut up to the edges of the tool so that they can cut into a corner, and all the way to the end of the tapered tip, so you can get into hard to reach places. Auriou rasps come in a wide range of lengths and grain sizes and in right handed or left handed versions.

I used a 10" medium grain #9 cabinet maker's rasp and a 7" modeler's rasp with a fine #13 grain on my rocking chair. Grain is the 'coarseness' of the tooth pattern, where #1 is the coarsest and #15 the finest. The cabinet maker's rasp provided an aggressive cut for sculpting the curved surfaces on the rocker but left no tearout or gouges. It removed a lot of wood quickly but left a very clean surface. The finer grain and smaller sized modeler's rasp easily formed the small curves where the legs and seat come together.

If you are frustrated with using your current machine-made rasps or are planning a project that requires some hand sculpting, you should consider the hand-cut Auriou rasp. The only downside of these rasps is their cost. They are about twice the cost of a machine-made rasp, but in my experience, their performance makes them well worth the extra cost.




Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He is the president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at www.jeffswooddesigns.com. He can be reached by email at chpcrvr@shentel.net.



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