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Thread: Card Scraper Question

  1. #1
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    Card Scraper Question

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post on the forum so wanted start by thanking you all for the contributions - I have learned a lot from you and appreciate all the knowledge that is shared here.

    I have been working on smoothing a cherry dining table top and got it mostly smooth with my smoothing plane. There were a few areas where I had deep tearout from my jointer plane (used previously to flatten the top) that I couldn't remove completely with my smoothing plane so I used a card scraper. At this point, the entire table top feels smooth but I can feel a difference in texture - the planed surface feels glassy smooth while the scraped surface feels more like it was sanded to a relatively fine grit. I can also see a difference, particularly in raking light.

    I plan to finish the top with Waterlox. Once the finish is applied, will the difference between the planed and scraped surface still be apparent? If so, what is the best way to fix it? Should I scrape the entire table top so it is consistent?


    Thanks in advance for any guidance,
    Nick

  2. #2
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    I think I know what your describing. What I do is blend it in with some used sandpaper start with 320 or 400. If that doesn’t look right go up one more.
    When wood is scraped it does look different then when it’s cut.
    Good Luck
    Aj

  3. #3
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    Been there too. If you have a very small plane - like a violin makers plane, you may be able to get it to blend. If not, use fine sandpaper as Andrew suggested, or you could also try to burnish it blending it into the surrounding area. I have a straw burnisher, but you could also try just a small piece of hardwood with a smooth rounded edge.

  4. #4
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    Wood has its own variations in appearance even when the surface preparation is consistent. Trying to simulate a hand plane cut (smoothed) surface will be a challenge. I would approach the surface prep in a way that I could control over the entire surface. You can very likely get the end result you are after even though you cannot hand plane smooth the entire area.

    There are numerous articles on hand plane versus sandpaper finishing results. Generally the results are different but, once a film-type finish is applied, the difference is only visual. I would sand the entire surface with something like 1000 grit. If that does not blend everything in to my liking I can move down in grits until it does.

    For a preview of what the "fix" will yield under your topcoat you can wipe the surface with mineral spirits under a raking light. It will be up to you to decide if the effort to blend the scraped areas into the hand planed areas will be worth it in the end. As much as I love my hand tools, I would sand the whole thing and spend my extra effort in "finishing the finish".
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
    I said “Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?”


  5. #5
    Nick, the ideal is to take care of tearout with the trying plane or the jointer. Then with the smoother just take full length parallel passes, just to get a fresh surface before finishing. This will look somewhat better than something that has spotty treatment.

    If you stain the wood, it could easily make the problems more noticeable because not only would the light show differently on the scraped portions, but the stain might absorb differently as well. One thing you could experiment with is trying to make the scraper act more like a plane. A very sharp scraper with a nice hook and very light pressure will come closer to a planed surface.

    You might use the underside of the table to experiment with various treatments, like light sanding, light scraping the planed area etc. You have a big surface there to play with.

    I think some old pieces look better with a small patch of tearout than similar old pieces with an area that has been worked with a scraper to eliminate the tearout. Keep in mind that your stock selection, design and proportion, construction integrity, finishing and such are probably more important than your small problem areas.

  6. #6
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    There are many top craftsmen, some here, some not, that routinely use sandpaper. One of the best know, is Christian Beeksvort, with many published articles in FWW, that advocates sanding cherry through at least 400 grit (starting with 120 and not missing the next grit), if not higher. Maybe we all think it "romantic, pulling us back to an earlier time" to only use our planes and scrapers, but there are times when we need to consider other methods.
    If the thunder don't get you, the lightning will.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Zaffuto View Post
    There are many top craftsmen, some here, some not, that routinely use sandpaper. One of the best know, is Christian Beeksvort, with many published articles in FWW, that advocates sanding cherry through at least 400 grit (starting with 120 and not missing the next grit), if not higher. Maybe we all think it "romantic, pulling us back to an earlier time" to only use our planes and scrapers, but there are times when we need to consider other methods.
    I have read Christian Becksvoort's articles as well. I never got the idea that he knows more about using a plane than Nick does. Maybe less. It is much faster to use a plane than all this sanding. I stopped using scrapers and sandpapers over forty years ago because they degraded the surface.

    As I suggested earlier, however, there are a lot of other important factors that make a great piece of furniture than how wonderful a surface one gets from a flat piece. The use of carvings, turnings, mouldings, coloring, and many other factors come into play. And a sanded surface with a fine finish will look better than a planed surface with a sloppy finish.

  8. #8
    Are you wiping or brushing?

    If wiping, I would sand the whole table with 600 grit. This will blend in the scraped area to the planed area. Further 600 grit will reveal track marks in a way that the lower grits do not. As a side benefit, the subtle burnishing of the cherry surface with the 600 grit will help even out areas of varying porosity which will IMHO make your initial Waterlox coat go down uniformly.

    This is all less critical if brushing, as the surface prep shows less and less as the finish develops thickness. If you are after a thinner final film, though, you'll want to take care to check for tracks and blend everything.

  9. #9
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    This argument is most often framed as "don't give up on the handplane," or words to that effect when in actuality what you shouldn't be giving up on is the scraper. Scrapers are cutting tools. They can, and will, leave a surface equal to one that was hand planed. Scrapers are the ultimate finesse tools. They can be set up in an infinite number of ways, far more than a plane with its fixed bedding angle, etc.

    All that said, go to Fine Woodworking's website and read the articled entitled "Sand, Scrape, or Plane?" You'll have to sign up for a trial subscription. It all matters less than you think. If you need to blend the project with sandpaper then by all means do so. Other than for pure rectilinear projects, most articles of furniture have to be scraped and sanded in order to homogenize the surface finish between mouldings, curved parts, etc., and this does not in any way mean their appearance is compromised. A piece of furniture has to stand as a whole -- not a collection of great looking components and some not-so-great-looking components. Do not allow yourself to get sucked into the 'plane only' vortex. It is absurd on its face. Surface abrasives have been used for hundreds of years -- brick dust, sand, burlap, animal skins, you name it.

    People claiming to have not used sandpaper or scrapers since decades ago are almost surely not building much of anything other than projects with a lot of flat, straight components.

    The late Eugene Landon called sandpaper "sharkskin" and wouldn't hesitate to use scrapers, either, should you need an imprimatur from a bona fide master craftsman.

  10. #10
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    I made a cherry eighteenth century secretary and had this problem. My approach to a solution was to use the card scraper on all sufaces before oiling. I am pleased with the results. Good luck
    Life's too short to use old sandpaper.

  11. #11
    Charles, scraping is not the same as planing.

    As Nick has observed, the surface left by a scraper is definitely different than a plane, I would think because the edge is not as sharp or refined as a plane and is cutting at a different approach angle.

    But, regardless, its not enough to make a difference in the final product.

    Personally I would address the tear out as best as possible with the scraper, then go over the whole top with a sander. You won't see a noticeable difference after the finish is applied.

    Hint: on a table top (or any panel) if you plan to hand plane, be sure to orient the grain in the direction to avoid tear out.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Engel View Post
    Charles, scraping is not the same as planing.

    As Nick has observed, the surface left by a scraper is definitely different than a plane, I would think because the edge is not as sharp or refined as a plane and is cutting at a different approach angle.

    But, regardless, its not enough to make a difference in the final product.

    Personally I would address the tear out as best as possible with the scraper, then go over the whole top with a sander. You won't see a noticeable difference after the finish is applied.

    Hint: on a table top (or any panel) if you plan to hand plane, be sure to orient the grain in the direction to avoid tear out.
    Scraping leaves a different surface when you don't know how to set up and use a scraper. One can scrape deeply to remove rank inequities or remove the thinnest layer of lacquer between coats. It's up to the user. No hook, tiny hook, medium hook, large hook, and the infinite hooks in-between all of these. Not to mention the hook angles - upright, almost laid over, the settings are again, literally infinite.

    A scraper is by far the most versatile tool in one's kit.

  13. #13
    Charles, I read the "Sand Scrape or Plane" article in 2005. I was baffled by the fact that in each case the author sanded the piece after a sealer coat of finish. With 220 grit sandpaper! So all the samples, even the planed, were in fact sanded; it is no wonder they could not see a difference.

    If you sand mouldings, carvings or turnings, they will also look doughy and cloudy, and lose their crispness.

  14. #14
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    I looked through all my stains and finishes, poly, danish oil, oil base, water base, shellac, stain/finish combo and they all said to sand between coats and/or sand raw wood.
    The significant problems we encounter cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

    The penalty for inaccuracy is more work

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hale View Post
    I looked through all my stains and finishes, poly, danish oil, oil base, water base, shellac, stain/finish combo and they all said to sand between coats and/or sand raw wood.
    The instructions on the can assume you just walked in off the street. The better products also say to do a test sample....

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