Auriou rasps – Good on the wood and good in the hand
For more information on rasps, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.
Some times I am amazed by a new or old woodworking tool, but not too often any more. Most of the time tools are a remake of something that once was, be that planes or saws, nail sets, chisels with ergonomic handles that shed their rubber grips like autumn leaves after about six months. They all fall into one of two categories, cheap or expensive. The haves and the have nots buy them accordingly.
A few years ago I used an Auriou raps for the first time. It was a fine tool in the hand and could cut and shape wood in a heartbeat. These rasps are not cheap and at first glance you may think them over priced; that is unless or until you use one. Then you’ll likely change your mind.
These are top-notch tools and well worth every penny.
Buying better quality tools might depend on how often you use them and for what task. if you do a lot of a particular work, you might be willing to pay a higher price. If the intent is just to make one thing, then the price might be prohibitive and you would likely feel to be a lesser quality reflecting a lower price.
I ordered three Auriou rasps from Highland Hardware in Atlanta, Georgia because I have some serious blogs coming up on making pieces that need good quality tools that will remove the wood fast. I was not at all disappointed in their quality and how they work.
Over the next few weeks we will be making several products that require some higher priced tools. That’s not usual for me because I am trying to work with what gets people started, so that they don’t get discouraged at tools they cannot afford. For the main part that really works, but this time I recommend that you invest in one good rasp, to if you can make it work.
Auriou rasps are indeed hand stitched and in a pattern that produces results. To twist a walking cane or staff like this takes about an hour with the right tool and this rasp works like no other I ever used. I also used a smaller rasp on spoons too and was ecstatic with my results. With the round on one side and flat on the other, the tool works for both concave and convex work. I used it for functional hand grips and for decoration too. Combining this with a Veritas card scraper or three I was well under way in carving a spoon to completion in about 45 minutes. I was really looking for safe tool for young people to work with and although this tool is not a child’s tool, under proper supervision ( and all children should be well supervised) for the safety of the tool and its safe use, this is ideal for encouraging up and coming young woodworkers with. Of course the main difference is that these tools work where machines cannot or where the inherent danger all woodworking machines are known for are of minimal concern by comparison, which is why hand tool workshops work so well for everyone.
the bottom line?
If and when you can afford one, buy an Auriou rasp according to you task or need. You won’t regret it at all. Highland hardware has quite an exhaustive range and the staff are very knowledgeable. Here is their contact details for their website.
Much more on this to follow as we build.
They are not cheap at all 🙂
With that under consideration, what sizes do you recommend for average work? Let’s say for getting only one, maybe two or three?
There are two numbers to consider; Are they size and roughness grade, right?
I’d be glad to try them too. Only so much you can dip in the bucket for though.
I no longer recommend anything I haven’t really tested even for good makers. Joel has done a great deal to bring good tools to market. He has the best Holdfast in the business, the best hand made varnish brushes anywhere and his bow saw kit with the extended coping saw blade is an absolute must of a kit.
About a year ago, I bought 2 Auriou rasps at an estate sale for $30 each. I had heard great things about them previously, so I knew what I was looking at and for how much they sold new. I have been very happy with them. The hand stitching makes for a much better cut and finish. Even paying full price, I would happily purchase more.
There are so many Auriou rasps at Highland that I am at a loss for what to try…many sizes, shapes, and grains.
Paul, any suggestions? I’d like to be able to do a Cabriole leg, spoons, shaping like that which you did on the canes, various furniture feet (I don’t have a lathe).
It looks like you have the chairmakers set in your picture. Would that handle most things (for the cost of about 10 #4 stanley planes)?
The Auriou chairmaker’s rasp set is indeed an excellent all round selection, no pun. You can carve and shape just about anything furniture wise with these three and then add others as desired. I also still like the four-in-hand despite recent adverse press. This tool has four rasp and files in one and is really good for anyone starting out and unsure as to what they want to spend and how much they want to do. They will easily carve and shape twenty to thirty spoons and spatulas but not with the same efficiency of an Auriou. I also know for sure it is hard to part with a ton of money without the certainty that you will be using this rasp as much as I might. What I like about Highland Hardware is that they carry several manufacturers and therefore the price range varies between the higher end quality rasps and some of the less expensive ones. They also carry Narex rasps and files now. These I am sure will be a good contender for the lower priced end and I am sure they will do as good a job as their excellent chisels do. I think I will try a set myself, so I can compare the hand stitched versions with the CNC stitched.
Hello Ed. I did use the chair makers triple set and found that I could do most everything with this set. It’s probably a little expensive as a starter set if you have never used rasps and are unsure of what you will be making, but these rasps are excellent in the hand and they remove stock fast and precisely from where you want once you have practiced using them on different woods.
Going against recent vibes dissuading people from buying cheap, I recommend cheaper tools can work fine and will indeed make 20-30 projects just fine. The four in hand rasp for instance gives you about four shapes in two grades for under £10-15. Highland Hardware has a variety of rasps by different makers and recently included rasps made by Narex who make just excellent chisels. I would like to get my hands on the rasps and compare them to Auriouo watch out for that possibility. Start oiut with one rasp. I suggest you get a four-in-hand first and if you want a more expensive rasp from the get-go go for the Auriou cabinet rasp and their four-in-hand is reasonable at 89 dollars when you see that you have four levels in one rasp. Lots to chew on there and their website carries lots of good info at http://www.highlandwoodworking.com
I believe Classic Hand Tools (ClassicHandTools.com) stock them here: http://www.classichandtools.com/acatalog/Auriou-Rasps-and-Rifflers.html
Would you recommend any other rasps for those who don’t want to spend as much?
There are lesser rasps like Narex, you could try. They are not as good but they will work.
I’ve been replacing some handsaw handles on old Disston, Atkins, etc. handsaws and after hearing so many good things on Auriou rasps from you and Chris Schwarz I thought I’d write and ask your recommendation on the size of Auriou rasps you recommend for this particular task. I’ve been using various old Nicholson brand rasps but they don’t compare to the Japanese brand rasps I purchased at Highland Woodworking. I’m thinking its time now to break down and spend the money on some of the Auriou rasps. Thanks Paul for your help with this………Bob Raley
For shaping saw handles this would be my recommendation from the Auriou range:
Of course it will do a lot more than saw handles too, wooden spoons and other cooking utensils etc.
What is the difference between a rasp and a file? The only rasps I usually see for sale are the newer “surform”-cheesegrater-style rasps.
I bought my first Auriou rasp and have used it several times in the few days I’ve had it. I’m amazed at how quickly it shapes wood and leaves a smooth surface. Very expensive but very worth it.
If you take care of it and don’t let the stitching catch on metal parts it should last you for many years.
Hello, lots of time is past, its now good to ask, how well these hand stitched rasps last. So far i have used iwasaki rasps. I use lots of hardwood for slingshots. I can graft almost one slingshot per month, and I have notice, that iwasaki goes dull with one year. French rasps are very expensive, but when they last similar time, they are not better over iwasaki in my eye.
I am still using a French made Auriou cabinet rasp after four years.
Okey, I collect bit money and give them change 🙂
At 70 years old, starting out in a new interest, does it make sense to buy the best tools? If I had a son or daughter to leave them with after I die then I might buy the best, or, if I were a young man and can expect to live and use these tools for the next 50 years.
I am not sure what you mean by the “best tools”, Glen. It is something of a misconception to think that brand new premium grade tools work any better than vintage versions secondhand. I can do everything with my now 55 year old tools bought new, but were I to sell them, they would be secondhand to the new owner. My non upgraded planes and saws will match any new premium tools bar none because they are all in good condition and I think better than those new from the box. I have found premium planes by all modern makers to be just too heavy for hour by hour use in serious woodworking even though I am very fit, strong and experienced with all tools. I think new woodworkers would find a well tuned vintage Stanley, Craftsman or Record a joy to use because many premium planes are in fact so heavy. My tools would also certainly go on for another half a century and maybe two.
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