In previous articles,
I described rehabbing older Bailey-pattern planes acquired from
eBay to replace all the family’s ancient wood planes… the ones
I’m getting tired of inlaying mouths in every decade or so as
they wear. I’ll rehab these oldies one more time and pass them
on to my oldest boy who’s interested in luthier work… he’ll be
the 5th generation of craftsman for some of these.
I’ll describe resoling
these woodies in another article, but as my card scrapers are
essential tools for this work and mine all need a tune-up, I’ll
walk you through that process today.
I pull the mahogany
filing block out of the bin… any hardwood block the length of
the file with a dead square rabbet to serve as a shelf for the
file will do… and while holding the chalked file in place with
my left hand I run the scraper down the teeth until I’ve filed
away all the old wire edge and have a nice fresh, square surface
to turn a new edge from.
The chalk aids in
preventing the single-cut mill file from clogging and I’m
careful to not slide the scraper backwards against the
file’s teeth… a practice that dulls files exactly twice as fast
as necessary. A nice, fresh, dead-square edge.
Then moving both block
and scraper to the Arkansas stones, I hone the edge dead smooth
on coarse and fine stones. The smoother and squarer the edge,
the better and more durable the eventual cutting edge.
Then I clamp the
scraper to a hard, flat surface and use a burnisher to turn a
wire edge inwards on both edges as shown in the sketch.
The burnisher? The one I’m using is a luthier design by
Timberline Tools of Mendanales, New Mexico, but any hardened and
smooth steel will do... like the back of the old Buck Brothers
gouge shown or a valve stem or pushrod from your local junkyard.
The burnisher should be oiled for best results.
Then I simply affix
the scraper on edge and turn those wire edges outward to make
two hook edges as shown in the second sketch. The purpose-built
burnisher does that automatically and rapidly….when using the
gouge, I use two hands and rub the edge on a diagonal with the
burnisher beginning horizontally and pushing the gouge twenty or
so degrees downward during each stroke.
The result? The
scraper, held in both hands and sprung a bit toward the body as
it is pulled toward you, cuts this hard maple
sole like a plane…
only with more control and precision. Learn to use
scrapers, and you’ll cut your abrasive paper outlays to a
pittance and even that varnish finish coat that egg-shelled on
you won’t be a burden. That’s right… properly tuned they can
cleanly remove as little as one layer of varnish.
I’m not into
unnecessary tools, but this luthier’s burnisher halves the time
and effort of tuning the scrapers. You can either buy or make
one. How do you harden the 5/16ths drill rod? After it’s cut to
length and the edges eased, simply grab it with soft-jawed
pliers, heat it to cherry red with a propane or MAPP torch, and
toss it in a can of linseed or motor oil.
Bob Smalser. All rights reserved.