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Thread: Teach us about rasps and floats

  1. #1
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    Teach us about rasps and floats

    There is a ton of info on the web about the more common woodworking hand tools (chisels, planes, saws) but what about rasps and floats? Whatís the difference in application? How do these tools fit into the tool continuum from axe to sandpaper?

    What brands and models would you recommend to start with?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Hi Keegan, rasps and floats are very useful for shaping and finishing.

    Here is an old post on the subject > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?255103

    Here is another on Riffler style rasps > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?295305

    Floats are another subject all together. Someone posted a link to a video on grinding a 90ļ bevel on a chisel, a kind of one tooth float. It worked so well for me on an old 1/2" chisel that a 1/8" & 1/4" chisel were purchased to make a couple more for my kit.

    As for brands to start with, my only experience is with the Auriou and serve me quite well.

    Here is a post on a comparison between Auriou and Logier rasps > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?250809 < Both are of the best quality.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 05-16-2022 at 10:35 AM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
    While no authority on the topic I have a couple Auriou rasps. One the 12” I think, 9 grain is a terrific tool. The other, I don’t see in their catalog now is a shorter combo unit. Pointed and curved on one end curved rectangular on the other. I may pick up the Modelers from LV soon for some shaping I have to do. I have two Lie Nielsen floats. One the 1/4”, the other a 1x4” blade. Both the rasps and floats have been very good as the need has come up. I didn’t know I needed them, but I do. Buy’em! You will be happy that you did

  4. #4
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    Here are a couple of articles I wrote for F&C a few years back. All still very relevant today!

    I think that Rasps are under-appreciated and are incredibly useful, but like most tools, quality really matters here and the hand-stitched ones are the best in my experience. I use both Auriou and Liogier, both from France. The joinery float which is much like a planemaker's float has many uses in a hand tool shop, but also a hybrid shop as it is a great tool for cleaning up machine marks and finetuning a flat surface in many types of joints.



    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Z4S...ew?usp=sharing


    https://drive.google.com/file/d/11XM...ew?usp=sharing

  5. #5
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    fine tuning a flat surface in many types of joints.
    Yes, at times my fine rasp, 15 grain, has made the difference to my dovetails being a fine fit.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
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    Keegan, rasps are good for shaping wood, especially curved surfaces. Coarse than sandpaper. Some never use rasps, instead relying on spokeshaves and carving gouges. I have several quality rasps - Logier, Corradi, Auriou. For a beginner, I highly recommend the Shinto Rasp for $25. You will get bang for the buck with the Shinto.

    chair.jpg

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replies so far. Lots of good reading and recommendations.

    Mark, I was primarily thinking about blending chair parts and shaping curves. I'll take a look at the Shinto rasp.

    Its always hard to spend big money on a quality product I haven't used, but i think its cheap in the long run.

    Any particular grain rating you would start with?

  8. #8
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    If you are going with Logier, get the 11 grain cabinet makers rasp. It is equivalent to the old Nicholson 50 rasp. It is finer than the 8 grain cabinet makers rasp, which is equivalent to the old Nicholson 49. I have both. Many woodworkers got by with the Nicholson 49 & 50. And try the Shinto. It is a buzzsaw.

  9. #9
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    If you get a Nicholson 49 and or 50 send it to Boggs for sharpening. Or any file thatís seen better days.
    He really does a stellar job.
    https://boggstool.com/
    Aj

  10. #10
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    I got a factory new Nicholson 4-in-1 for Christmas back in the 1970s and it served me well. Still have it. It has a half round and flat each of rasp and file. I should send it in to get refreshed, there was a thread here in the last couple months about an outfit I think in California.

    Anyroad, between age and use my old Nicholson was not quite meeting my needs for surface finish. Based on too much reading, I finally spent the money to get a left and right handed pair of the nine inch Auriou cabinet maker's rasps in grain 10. It was kind of a gamble getting the left hander to go with the right, but I am glad I did. When I use the right hander with my left hand, the surface is not so good. The first time I used one of them I got over the price. Very good tool.

    I have no experience with the Liogier's, but see consistently good things, even again in this thread. Never heard of a shinto rasp until just now.

    For now I am happy with the grain 10 Auriou's. I might think about a pair in grain 12 or 14 later for hardwoods, but the grain 10 pair I have are working fine for my current needs in hickory and white oak.

    No experience with floats. I was thinking about making wooden planes, bought a DVD from L-N and moved on. I cannot recommend current production Nicholson.

  11. #11
    A rasp is nice for shaping when a plane or spokeshave wonít fit or canít handle the grain.

    Floats are used more by plane makers although some people use them (or a rasp) to tweak a joint as a substitute for a chisel. I do not own a float.

    I own a coarse and fine dragon rasp from Stewart Macdonald. It might be the best secret weapon I own. If you every try a maloof style piece of furniture or make a guitar, rasps work really well for sculpting.

  12. #12
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    Any particular grain rating you would start with?

    I have a Liogier luthier's rasp that has 11 grain on one side and 13 on the other, both edges are safe (no teeth). This looks like a normal file, the 11 will remove material and the 13 will clean it up. I find I am reaching for this one the most with flat work. the other is my 12" Auriou Cabinetmaker's rasp which is curved on one face and flat (actually slightly convex, unlike a flat float) on the other, works great for shaping curved pieces. The Grain is 10. the Auriou 10 and the Liogier 13 leave scratches like 80 grit sandpaper.

    The choice of grain is always a tradeoff, the more coarse grain will remove material more quickly but lave deeper scratches that must be removed. This is easy enough, you just have to plan ahead with your material removal so you don't go too far with the rough rasp. the shinto is a very coarse rasp that is designed to hog away material, much like a grain 6-8 rasp.

    If I were buying one to do flat work the 11/13 Liogier Luthier's rasp gives lots of flexibility for flat work and a medium Auriou Cabinetmakers rasp (10) is a great place to start.

    The finest grain ones (14-15) will remove very little material so give you great control over fine-tuning a joint, and they leave scratches about the size of 120 grit sandpaper.

    And make sure you buy either right or left handed, as the wrong setup will leave excess scratches on your work and the teeth point the wrong way for effective cutting.

  13. #13
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    + 1 for Boggstool. Good files are not cheap. Boggs really brings them back. I found a big Farriers Rasp while cleaning up an old dump. It is a goner, but I am sending it in just for fun. I have a list of Gorbets I am saving up for.

    Products - Files, American Pattern - Grobet USA

    Swiss Pattern Precision Files
    Best Regards, Maurice

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Hughes View Post
    If you get a Nicholson 49 and or 50 send it to Boggs for sharpening. Or any file that’s seen better days.
    He really does a stellar job.
    https://boggstool.com/

    You can sharpen files???

    Wow, had no idea.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Dupont View Post
    You can sharpen files???

    Wow, had no idea.
    Not sure how Boggstool.com does it but many an old machinist would soak them in Muriatic acid (other acids can also be used).

    Search > acid sharpening file < or > muriatic acid sharpening file < for more information.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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