A Rasp by Liogier

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I hadn’t realised that Liogier personalise the rasps from the maker, in my case Noel Liogier, but it’s a nice touch.

When I used my first ever rasp I was disappointed with the results because the teeth seemed to go nowhere in the hard and dense-grained wood I was shaping. It put me off and I continued shaving wood with carving chisels and then spokeshaves too. Most of my shaping still comes from such tools and the main reason is that they can be refreshed with a new cutting edge in a few seconds and so are long-lifetime tools that generally will outlive even the most productive carver. Let’s face it, few tools work better in the hands of an experienced carver and in my view there is something very freeing in these spheres of tradition. Combine removal of larger areas with saws makes the task all the quicker and there is nothing wrong with using different types to get down to the core of where the real work begins. Bandsaws also make the roughing out simpler too. Bandsaws have indeed aided woodworkers to get to this point for a couple of centuries now, I have no hesitation using one if it’s handy to the task.p1580596

I ordered a new rasp from Noel Liogier three weeks ago and it arrived. I showed it to different people and said, “Isn’t this lovely?” For the main part they saw nothing of what I saw even when I told them of how the grain was stitched. They went back to their smart phones and tablets and carried on reading fiction and playing games with pecking fingers. I walked out to my workbench, installed an oak blank and shaped out a spatula using the Liogier where the spokeshave couldn’t reach. p1580614As I stroked a sweeping arc into the wood the teeth bit and I adjusted the attitude to develop the cut. The grain reflected my demands of tool and wood with each stroke and in seconds the shaping was quite equal to my mind’s depiction. The rasp was equally lovely in its ability to cut stock waste away as it was in its appearance and so the aesthetics revealed the perfection of a man in the art of crafting true working tools.

Hand stitching seems always essential to the making of a rasp and so to try and compare a machine-stitched rasp to hand-made is comparing chalk to cheese. They will never be equal in any way. p1580615-1The big question then becomes this; do you carve and shape enough to spend the £100 or so needed for your work? Beauty in looks is one thing but then beauty in work is something truly valuable. This is not like an over-engineered tool so much as an under-engineered one developed by hand and eye. It moves very gracefully into and through the strokes whether you use the round or flat face. This is a cabinet rasp and it is very nice.

34 comments on “A Rasp by Liogier

  1. Noel Liogier has been making excellent rasps for some time now, glad you’ve found his tools.
    Plus he’s one of the few makers of floats, which are another vastly under-estimated tool – vitually unobtainable these days.
    Sharpened well floats will give a fine finish both with and against the grain – especially on wild grain.
    You’ll have gathered by now that I’m a big fan of floats…… Noel’s also a keen Rugby fan.

      • Floats are used for refining cuts to the bed of a plane and to develop the escapement forming the throat of a plane. They are used to form the wedge recesses to receive the wedge that secures the cutting iron assembly with a wedge spanning from one side of the inside cheek of a plane to the other. They are basically wide toothed plates of steel where the teeth are aligned in similar mode to saw teeth in a saw if you will. They can range in width depending on what they are intended to be used for and so vary from say 1/8″ through to multiple widths or tapered from narrow to wide. In times past many crafts relied on floats, especially plane making and patter making all the more.

  2. I’ve seen elsewhere that a good all-round choice of rasps is: cabinet 9″ 10 grain; modeller’s 6″ 15 grain; and rattail 6″ 13 grain. Which Liogier rasps would you recommend please?

    • What you have listed would be fair choices. You must tailor choices to the work in hand, smoother rasps for finer removal and coarser if you want to use rasps only and not carving chisels and spokeshaves.

  3. I put one of these on my Christmas/birthday list a few weeks ago. I think the whole family can afford it between them.
    Not long to wait until I know whether I not I have to buy one for myself!

    Regards,

    Matt

  4. For me the question of whether to spend 100 € on one rasp or not was actually not hard to answer, after having spent some frustrating hours with a cheap machine made rasp from the tool supermarket. The results were sub-optimal to say the least. No fun at all.

    For me quality and longevity of a tool equate to fun when working with them. And it is important to enjoy ones work, right? After all, we do spend 8+ hours per day in the workshop, right?

    I ordered 10 premium rasps from Liogier and that was a substantial investment. But I know that this rasps will outlive me. And they are really fun to work with. As soon as they arrived I took them and started shaping a work piece from hard oak. And it was like shaping butter. I started with a number 6, continued with a number 9 and ended with a number 12 rasp. I a few minutes I finished a task which had taken me up to 4-5 times longer with chisel and spokeshave.

    I will never ever use cheap rasps again. And I will take great care of them. In treating them with much love and care I pay my respect to the master rasp maker.

    Be warned: Once you have tried out a hand-stitched rasp from Liogier, you might get hooked faster than you think.

    • Whereas I do spend long periods in the workshop using tools like this, I don’t assume that anyone can spend the same time if they have a job that’s not woodworking. Also, for some, I know over £100 is more than they could afford for a tool and for some people it would indeed be a hardship and so rasps would not be so essential a tool unless they can indeed justify them. I address the cost issue because I doubt that most if many can actually spend so much on a rasp. And work is work and important when you earn your living from it so for some the term fun might well be more an unknown concept. Ordering 10 rasps can be an exclusive way to go and I would never trade of carving chisels and spokeshaves for rasps because my work seems to be radically different for someone who buys in ten rasps. So, it’s different strokes for most folks in my view. Also, I would point out that if someone has one or two spoons to shape and that will be it for them then a less expensive rasp will get them there fine. I doubt whether a Liogier or an Auriou rasp would last me a lifetime, just that they cut better and and last longer. Just to balance out what’s being said here and recognise 10 premium Liogier rasps is definitely a chunk of change. Just sayin’.

      • I have always wondered how to carve the bowl of a spoon. Paying for a gouge to carve one spoon seems a lot of money to try making just one.

  5. Coincidentally, I’ve been using a Shinto saw rasp this week and included a pic for my “handtoolthursday” contribution to the Instagram thread. I bought this on a lark a couple of years ago and finally had occasion to use it for cleaning up some joints in my workbench build this week. I’m not familiar with other rasps, but I’ve been impressed with this one. It’s quite affordable and effective.

    • I also just tried out the Shinto rasp per your comment and it works great! I like it better than my steel rasp. The Shinto has 2 sides, coarse and fine and is $18. It is a great value and I would recommend. Someday I would like to try out a $100 rasp to compare.

  6. I ordered a starter set a couple years ago. They have great balance and cut really well. Very happy with them , and Noel and his team were great to deal with as well. Shipping to Canada from France was easy and relatively quick. ( I somtimes think that could be a job for me…..hand stitching rasps… For when my job gets to people-y. ) I think there are some videos on his site worth a look for those interested as well.

  7. Lee Valley offers some very reasonably priced (Narex?) hand-stitched rasps that I find are fantastic for rough wood removal, I think they might be rated about #6, so a cheaper alternative to getting a full set of fancier rasps. I have #9 and #13 Aurious for the final finishing but would still like to try a Liogier…maybe one of their cranked neck rasps.

    Greatly enjoying the book Paul. The section on scraper sharpening is worth the price of the book.

  8. Large Scale Wood Sculpture,

    Hmm, we don’t see much of this sort of thing here in the ‘States’, I think or at least I don’t. 19th.Century French furniture was sculptured, wasn’t it? Beautiful !

    This Rasp System involves the mastery of a wide range of shaped tools, we ( in the States ) use them for Pattern Making and Gage Block building, the rasps are quite small and come in a nearly infinite range of shapes, sizes and fineness. I’ve owned and used rasps over these last 5 decades, I never see woodworker hobbyists using them, seems like sandpaper is “everyman’s” rasp.

    I’ll share a ‘tip’ I learned as an apprentice: hold the tip of the File/Rasp with a hand-holdable piece of wood ( soft Wood ) that has a hole drilled in it for the tip of the file. Tip No.2 is to carve the shape of the File/Rasp into the end of the file handle so that it can be visually seen as it hangs on it’s tool bench holder.

    Once Files/Rasps become part of a workman’s life they become indispensable. I probably own 50+ of these lovely tools. Even as they become worn they remain useful ( I call them “soft” cutters ). If I replace a “tired” File/Rasp I’ll convert it to a sharp edged cutting edge ( something like a chisel ) which, of course, will have the end cutting shape of the file itself. Old Files never die, they live on as specialized shape & purposed tools. ( Working with Steel will wear out files )

    The Lioger Videos are well worth watching, the Artisan creates a sculptured furniture leg, he holds his work with a Bar Clamp mounted in his Vise, on his Bench are 20 to 30 files/rasps. ( like Mr. Sellers Bench covered with his working tools ) fascinating.

    Thank you Paul for introducing us to this French outfit. His tools cost about $50 each ( here in the States ) , the small sets are much less pricy. Nice to see these smaller outfits surviving.

    Tony in Michigan

  9. Paul,
    Please remind your readers that these rasps can be stitched for both left handed and right handed users. If you are right handed and get a left handed rasp, you will be greatly disappointed with the results.
    Being left handed, I never understood their utility until I my wife bought me a left handed Logier.

  10. Hello,
    I’m also using hand made rasp, not Liogier or Auriou, but Milani.
    Milani were originally used for stone and marble carving.
    They are sold (along with liogier rasp) by fine tools for example.

  11. I hate to throw things away and when a small bandsaw blade separates I have a habit of folding the blade over and over and then taping the ends with masking tape. That makes a 6 inch rasp that works both ways.

  12. For awhile I worked in the file department at Firth Brown Tools in Sheffield where files and rasp blanks were still contracted out to ladies cutting them in their kitchens. At that time the most expensive sold for around 30 pence, not a reflection on their quality, they were excellent tools. During my time at FBT they developed a tool from a milled file called ‘Dreadnought’ into the Surform blade. None of the tools made at FBT were retailed, being only for the companies use. So the Surform was sold off to Stanley to make and market. It’s still sold and I’m sure many still use it in their shops. Although I think it’s main use now is in the kitchen, sad to think such a great tool is reduced to grating garlic.

  13. I have two Auriou rasps and they are beautiful to use. I actually try to remove the bulk of the waste with other tools first to avoid wearing them out too fast. As a first time purchase of rasps I have no idea of how long to expect to get out of them? I know it’s a question of how long is a piece of string, but can anyone shed light on how long they work effectively for?

  14. Does anyone know of files of comparable quality? Sometimes, like on the knee of a cabriole leg, it can be hard to smooth out the rasp marks with a scraper and a file feels just right, but I don’t think the hardware store Nicholson bastards cut as well as I’d like.

  15. I have two Liogier rasps, a double handed flat 10/13 Luthiers Rasp with Sapphire coating and a two ended Rifler which cost me AU$100. The Luthier rasp coat over AU$130 from memory. Both are worth every penny. I cut a mahogany neck blank for one of my guitars and using only the 10/13 Luthier rasp had the neck ready for fine sanding in under 90 minutes. A beautiful tool to use and as claimed, the more use the better the cut. I recommend them to anyone for fine wood crafting.

  16. I bought a 5 piece set from Liogier a few years ago and I love them. I am a chair maker and they are great for grain the would usually be torn out by a router. His rasps are also great for getting into tight spaces that other tools can’t reach.

  17. I got my rasp from Noel in 2014. After three years of light-medium use for shaping of wild olive and teak, it is still in good shape. The peaks of the teeth have developed slight flats but other than that it is great.

    It doesn’t look like one can attach pictures in the comments section. I have images of the rasp teeth new and as they are now.

    • Depends on where you live. Lee Valley carries them in Canada/USA, also The Best Things. Elsewhere, let your fingers
      do the Googling.

  18. What do you think about sapphire range? I want to buy my first set and I’m undecided. I really like the fact that they are more durable and resistant to rust. Thanks.
    Regards

    • It will depend on your individual need. Most often with a good company like Liogier and added quality is genuinely going to improve either quality of cut or longevity. I am currently testing out their rasps and they have proven to at least equal or even surpass Auriou. Having a file or rasp that doesn’t rust is of little value to me because everything I might use it on is dry and not green or wet. If you are working on green wood or wet stone than it will be a good idea.

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