Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tiny Scrapers

Scrapers, sharpening, and scratch stock changed my life as a woodworker.

Scrapers get you out of sticky situations with difficult grain and allow you to smooth curved or otherwise non-flat surfaces; learning to sharpen is (in my opinion) the single most important skill in woodworking; and making scratch stock opens up a new world of creativity.

So when I ran into trouble trying to flatten the background on a small relief carving, all three came to the rescue.

With the help of some brainstorming friends, I decided to reshape two dental tools into mini scrapers.
I used a dremel tool to grind the ends. Then I filed a flat on the cutting edge the same way that I sharpen scratch stock: square to each surface and with no burr. This creates two very sharp
micro edges where two surfaces meet.

Then I honed the top, back, and edge of each tool on my 8,000 grit waterstone.

They may look like tiny garden hoes, but they work great at smoothing out a once-rough surface, both with and against the grain. Tiny peels of shavings, not sawdust, come off the edges.

15 comments:

Shawn said...

A woodworker with a decent manicure... skillz!

rgdaniel said...

Ingenius! And yes, lovely nails! You obviously don't work with CA glue... or else you're sensible and wear gloves... my fingers are glazed over most days...

Bob Easton said...

What a fine solution Kari. Innovative!

The box lid carving is gorgeous. I thought it well done several posts ago but you keep working it. Has anyone ever asked if you're a perfectionist?

Chod said...

I was thinking about CA glue as well when I saw Kari's fingers. On my best day, my fingers don't look that good.
But on the subject at hand, I'm a huge fan of all kinds of scrapers. I recently ordered mini scrapers from Lee Valley that have come in handy regularly since I got them. I'll have to work on those dental tools next. Great info.

Jonathan said...

I make bows and live&die with scrapers. It's an essential tool. The dental pick idea is downright ingenious.

The Village Carpenter said...

Shawn, you're right that it's a skill. I had just broken a nail before I shot those pics so had to cut all my nails short. : (

Bob, I'm more inclined to get shellac all over my hands when I turn pens. Of course, that's much easier to remove than CA glue.

Bob, I just have one more tool--the big brace to carve--then I can start making the box. :o)

Chod, you can get dental tools cheap from Harbor Freight. I got mine from a dental supply store, but you can also just ask your dentist for throw aways.

Jonathan, they definitely come in handy with detail work.

Jeff Branch said...

Great photography on this post.

Zolten said...

My wife is a dental assistant so I have a BAZILLION dental tools! I've been making tiny skew knives and dog-leg chisels from them, as well as custom things for hard-to-reach places. If you have a grinder or sander, try your skills with hardened steel punches. As long as you keep them cool they won't lose their hardness!

Small Town Living. said...

You totally know you wood working, I'll add your Blog to my list if you do not mind.

@eloh said...

Very curious how you sign your work. It is beautiful art. As a quilter these "signing" our work leans toward several different methods.

Wood working I've only ever done functional. I never had the time or talent for what you do but I do love reading your blog.

Frank V said...

Great idea, Kari... and the box lid is coming along very nicely.

But now I have Don Ho singing in my head... Tiny scrapers, in the wood...

Frank

The Village Carpenter said...

Thanks Jeff!

Zolten, that's a great idea about the steel punches. I bet they would retain an edge longer than the dental tools. I have to keep honing them in use. Lucky you, married to a dental assistant. :o)

STL, by all means. Thanks!

@eloh, I've only signed one piece--my tool cabinet--and I used an electric engraver. It worked pretty well, but a little jittery. I love quilts. A friend of mine makes absolutely stunning ones.

The Village Carpenter said...

Thanks, Frank. I'm awfully slow with carving, but it's very fun. :o) Is that a good thing to have a Don Ho song playing in your head? ; )

BMW said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
johnP said...

great little tool. i've used reshaped and retempered nails for the same purpose. not great metal. dental will keep the edge way better. they also come in handy for adding detail to a piece, feathers come to mind. turning small handles gives me better control. getting old is not all it's cracked up to be