Homemade Card Scrapers





Introduction: Homemade Card Scrapers

About: DIY maniac from South-Estonia! I love to inspire and to be inspired.

It's hard to think of a simpler yet more effective woodworking tool than the cabinet scraper – a flat, thin, post card-sized sheet of spring steel dragged by hand across a wood surface to leave a glass-smooth finish. - Macdonald

Some time ago I got my first card scraper. I had been looking for one for a long time. As it turned out I could have made one with materials I already had and thus keep my 8 euros

I also threw together a small video.I hope you like it. It is my first one so don´t go hard on me ;)

Step 1: Stuff Needed

To make scrapers you will need the following materials:

  • Putty knife
  • Old hand saw
  • Old circular saw blade


  • Angle grinder with metal cutting blade
  • metal file
  • burnishing tool
  • waterstone
  • pencil and ruler

Step 2: Putty Knife Scraper

This is probably the easiest one to make.

Just remove the handle and you are done!

I also decided to cut of small strip off so that it would be the same size as my original scraper and that I could use both sides to scrape.

This one has thickness of 0,4 mm. It bends quite easily but it totally works!

Step 3: Hand Saw Scraper

This one turned out the best.

I took old handsaw and removed the handle. I gave it a light sanding to remove rust. Using the already existing scraper I traced out the lines with pencil. I clamped a straight piece of plywood to the blade and cut it with angle grinder. After that I removed the rest of the rust on waterstone.

This scraper has thickness of 0,8 mm.

Step 4: Circular Saw Scraper

Making this one was pretty much like making the hand saw scraper.

Important thing is to use a straight piece of wood to guide your cut.

Otherwise the blade will wonder off and you have to do a lot of filing later on to get it straight.

I would have used a bigger blade but I did not have one. This scraper should be bigger to work comfortably with but it does the job.

This one ended up being 1,2 mm thick.

Step 5: Sharpening and Burnishing

I am not gonna go in much detail with this because there is already so much information on this topic.

The process goes something like this:

  1. Use metal file to get the edge completely straight ( if it is really beaten up)
  2. Use waterstone to give it even finer edge.
  3. Turn the scraper on its side and remove the small burr created from filing.
  4. Clamp the scraper in the vice and use the burnisher to give the edge a small "hook".

You are done!

Scrapers work also without the hook but will not remove much material like that. Woodworkers use all kinds of tools as burnishers. Screwdrivers, chisels, etc. The key is that the material has to be stronger than the scraper itself. I found a porcelaine knife sharpener from IKEA. This worked perfectly.

As you can see from the pictures different scrapers work differently. The material removed is not only determined by the thickness of the tool but also by the sharpening and burnishing techniques as well as the angle.

Here are some links if you want to know more about sharpening card scrapers:

Step 6: The Conclusion

I am pretty satisfied on how this turned out.

There is no need to spend a lot of money on these tools when you can make thm basically for free.

And of course to keep it all organized I made a small holder for my scrapers and sharpening tools.





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    Very cool (and timely) video! I just started using a card scraper on my current project and kept thinking that I should be able to make more :)! Thanks for the ideas!

    Shucks - I just bought a few scrapers last week.

    I found this useful when it comes to sharpening:

    This is a great idea - definitely going to re-purpose some old hardware into new scrapers!

    If you - like me - are looking to get the absolute best look / most chatoyance out of figured wood: put down the sandpaper and pick up a scraper!

    5 replies

    The only thing I will say against this is that "the steel matters" - there's a reason some card scrapers are $30+ each - and that's the steel that goes into them. Getting a REALLY sharp edge requires a very fine-grain steel.

    Google on "Hock Tools" and see what he has to say on why this matters.

    you are presuming that the steel in old saws, scrapers etc is rubbish metal??? they are made of the same high tensile material that they make scraper blades from. in over 30 years as a furniture maker i have on,y ever used this type of scraper and have never had a problem with getting a good burr.

    Not sure where you're reading that presumption - but I will say with every confidence that there are a lot of tools out there made from cheap steel.

    It's really not debatable - the better the steel the finer the edge possible and the better the resulting cut will be.

    I didn't say you can't get a burr, I didn't say you won't get them to cut. All I said was there is a reason that there are $30 (hell - $60) cabinet scrapers out there. If you are looking for "ready to apply finish" wood from your scraping efforts, don't be shocked when the scraper you made from $3 putty knife doesn't take you there.

    I have a Hock #80 scraper (less than 3" on a side) that I paid $28 for - and I can tell you that it is a night and day difference using that scraper -vs- the 3-pack that I got from Amazon for $14.

    What the author presented is a valid way to determine if scraping methodology will enhance a workpiece's finish. It will because for the most part the unaided human eye can't readily distinguish much above a 150- 200 grit finish sanding, but a tactile sense (feel) often can. Experienced machinists of old could determine as little as .001" of difference between two surfaces by feel alone, a most remarkable feat. The easiest and cheapest way to scrape wood is with nothing more sophisticated than a flat- edged, freshly cut piece of glass:


    Hand scraping of machine ways and beds to unbelievable smoothness and accuracy is an art unto itself, making wood scraping look like child's play yet is done with tools of little more sophistication than a cabinet scraper and a disclosing ink.

    Back in the day, when hardwood floors were laid by hand and cut nails used, the job was not considered finished until it was hand scraped to level. The adjustable handheld scraper reached it's zenith in those times and I'm lucky enough to own one bought from a flea market purchase by a seller who thought it was simply an old paint scraper. I can level a surface nearly as fast as a spoke shave, but to a finer degree.

    Thanks for the link!

    I can´t wait to give a silky smooth surface to my upcoming furniture projects.


    dead right.... i have never bought a cabinet scraper, yet as a professional furniture maker of many years i have used them constantly. my favourite is a scraper/putty knife which i dont even take the handle off. just flatten the edge and put a burr on it when needed.

    Really cool. Thanks for sharing!
    Loved the style of your video, the fast forward sound is a bit disturbing at first but it become sort of a white noise when you get used to it.

    2 replies

    Hey thanks! Yeah sorry for the sound. It was my first video... and they had only these talk shows on radio :D The aspect ratio seems bit off too but I have learned my lesson. Cheers

    No way! Actually it made the video interesting for my taste. It's not a criticism. o/
    Keep'em coming.

    I have an old handsaw that I keep around for just this purpose, all I do is scribe a deep line with a carbide tipped scratch awl, put it in a vise with the line just above the jaws and give it a good whack and usually it breaks clean and straight. You can also make a scratch stock with this too, just take your Dremel and grind a half- hole on a thin width, and you have a beading tool, very effective on hardwoods.


    1 reply

    Hey, this seems a really interesting way to make scrapers. I will have to try this myself! This beading tool got me really curious now. Thanks for the information.

    Take care

    I make mine from old jointer blades. Instead of throwing away old jointer blades, I sharpen them and use them for scrapers. When shaving boards I would get fine curls of wood from each pass with them.

    1 reply

    Them fine curls are the best! :)

    Excellent! I think the scraper is one of the most useful but underutilized tools. For figured woods like curly maple or burls it's almost impossible to get a good finish with a plane, and sandpaper just muddies up the grain and it takes forever--a scraper is faster and leaves the best finish.

    The steel is important; it needs to be high-quality high-carbon steel tempered to a spring hardness--so an old hand saw or a putty knife would be just right as a source, if you don't want to mess around with beat-treating. The steel from a carbide-tooth circular saw blade is probably too soft; I would anneal, harden, and temper it to a nice pale blue (650 F or so).

    1 reply

    Thanks mate!

    I totally agree with you on the scraper subject ;) Oh and thanks for the circular saw blade tip.

    They can be almost any size - the great thing about making your own is that you can size them to your needs / your hands. Most common is 6x3 inches.

    The thickness matters more - most scrapers are used by pushing - and you center your thumbs on the card to get a _slight_ curve to the scraper. So - the thicker the stock the harder the force required to get that bend.

    Hey, thank you! My original Bacho scraper measures 474-150-0,60 mm. Cheers!