Filing/Honing Guide for #80 Scraper

For more information on the #80 Scraper, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

Watch the video first to see how effectively it works. Go here:

After a class, most times, I notice that  two or three (some times more) of my cabinet scrapers have been filed and honed incorrectly and end up out of square, often with the bevels are far from 45-degrees, often to a bull-nosed camber. In developing the highly refined cutting edge to a scraper there is no doubt that starting out as near to flat on the 45-degree bevel is important. It’s not so much the angle of the bevel as the straightness and flatness that’s important. Here is my answer to inaccurate filing.

Awkward grains with chatoyancy are mastered with scrapers no matter the randomness or wildness.

Most people including woodworkers fail to get the edge they need for a couple of basic misunderstandings. On the one hand they misunderstand the use of the term burr, which, as I explain at length in my book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools, is not at all a burr but a highly refined and developed turned edge. The second issue is that because the edge is bevelled in similar fashion a bevel down bench plane iron they think that the blade is indeed loaded bevel down because they don’t realise that the bevel is drawn out with a steel burnisher and then subsequently turned along the edge so that the cutting edge engage the grain along the ‘hooked’ cutting edge. If you can at least start refining the bevel with a dead-on bevel filed and honed to 45-degrees you are well on your way to developing the final edge. Making and using the guide takes but a few minutes and takes out any guesswork; once you have made it you have it for life.

I used a 10″ long piece of beech in thus case because the wood is rigidly stiff and resilient, but any wood will do.

3/4″ by 2 3/4″ is a practical size.

3/4″ from one edge make a 45-degree mark and run a parallel line to the long edge for about 7″.

Saw down at 45-degrees with a handsaw to about 7″.

The scraper cutting blade slides into the kerf and is clamped into the vise but because of the slope the opposing areas tend to slide up when the blade is in place because it acts like a shim.

Screwing a block that swivels to allow the blade sliding into place prevents this slippage though there may be a little give.

Attach the turn button to the underside of the guide as shown, making sure that when the button is turned to align with the long axis the kerf is cleared to install the blade.

Clamp in the vise with the blade protruding a millimetre and you are ready to first file across the blade bevel.

See how the turn button helps keep the two opposing inclines aligned under clamping pressure.

Once down to near level, begin through- filing by pushing the file directly across the bevel according to the arrow shown.

Pushing the blade across and away from you results in particles of powdery steel. Stop a couple of strokes above the surface of the support wood but let the wood guide the file.

The next stage is draw filing with further smooths the steel and draws the surface of the steel in curls instead of fractured filings.

This smoother surface readies the steels for further smoothing further with a fine diamond plate or slip stone.

The filing and honing will result in a burr but this is not the cutting edge we are creating. To remove the burr place the steel blade flat face down on the honing plate and slide it along back and forth to weaken the attachment to the cutting edge.

Looking closely at the edge you will see what we call a wire edge which will pull away before consolidating or will fall away during consolidation.

You are now ready to consolidate the steel.

Do the same to the bevel and slightly raise the burnisher so as to turn the edge from the 45-degrees with each stroke .

Don’t raise it too much as this results in the edge not cutting. The blade is now ready to install back in the body of the holder.


  1. So cool. I need to make this as soon as I can. Seems so simple it’s brilliant. Thanks for the tip. 🙂
    I love these type of home made tools.

  2. Educational, practical and enjoyable. Or ‘Ter leringhe ende vermaeck’, as the ancient Dutch proverb goes.

    Posts like this are what attracted me to your site and which keep me coming back. It’s not IKEA or their (lack of) design.

    Thanks for another woodworking tip to make my life a little easier.

  3. Paul, can you think of a reason for a card scraper edge to fail rapidly? I get beautiful shavings with my card scrapers, but they dull quickly. I don’t know if it is a sharpening issue, if I’m using the wrong angle when scraping, or something else. The scrapers are of various brands- Bahco, Lie-Nielson, etc. It’s something I’m doing, I’m sure, not the scraper. I get a few minutes of surperb cutting, then a few minute more of okay cutting. Maybe my expectations are wrong. How long can you work with a card scraper edge before resharpening?

    For the 45 degree jig, I’ve just been using a small blade-sized block of 3/4 ply with a 45 bevel on it that I hold firmly to the file when filing or hold firmly to the blade when honing on the diamond plate. Just watch your fingers on the corners of the blade. So, that’s another alternative.

    1. Hi Ed, Always good to hear from you. I would try something here. On card scrapers you can replenish the burr without going back to the file and stones. Try just reburnishing and turning the edge and see what happens. Usually you can do this three time before refiling.

      1. That’s actually what I do. Usually, reburnishing will work a two or three times. Each successive reburnished edge lasts a bit less than the previous one, though.

        So, is just a few minutes of cutting, as described, typical after the first sharpening?

        Thanks for the help.

        1. Yes, really that is the case and that is why I always sharpen three or four at a time instead of just one. Mostly I rely on the #80 because it so outlasts the card scraper but the card scraper is irreplaceable for some close and very fine work and that’s where I use them most.

          1. I just read of a craftsman who files and hones as normal, turns the burr, but then goes back to consolidating with the ticketer, and then turns the burr a second time. He feels that flattening and re-turning the burr work hardens the burr and makes it last longer. He’ll then re-establish the burr as many as five or six times when working (normal procedure…no repeated consolidation) before going back to filing and grinding. I’ll give it a try, as it will take just a moment.

  4. Why does this blog, get very few replies. A blog on IKEA furniture gets a huge amount of replies? I am here to learn how to use and properly take care of tools. So I can make better objects than what is sold for a cheap price.
    Paul your book, blog, and videos have been a great help. Thanks a million, keep them coming.
    I would rather play with my old tools, instead of the new toys, that everyone has in their home, carry with them.

    1. I think that it is so much easier to associate with and understand than the societal issues where reporters, who actually know so
      very, very little about design and creativity, become the democratisers of democratisers affirming democratic outcomes. Most woodworkers looked at this article and said to themselves, ‘Oh, this makes sense to me.’ It needed no more than the basic guide it was meant to be.

  5. Hi Paul

    Thank you for this great tip. It is really going to help with restoring my No80!
    If I may ask, will this video and the upcoming Workbench series appear on the Wood Working Master Class site as well as YouTube?

    Thank you


  6. Thanks for this and the comment on duration of use and just reburnishing the edge a couple of time to prolong use.

    Are there any differences between the cabinet scraper and plane scraper? I don’t get as yet the problem/application being solved for with a plane scraper versus a cabinet scraper.

    1. Just my two bits but a scraper plane is much easier to use altho its purpose is the same as the cabinet scraper. The latter can be exhausting to use extensively and the heat generated by successful scraping is hard to endure.

      Plus for me card scraper sharpening is a finicky process that I can’t ever seem to get right, but the likelyhood to get it right with a scraper plane is much higher.

      1. I’m sorry Clark but whereas I respect your view I strongly disagree and perhaps it’s that you haven’t got card scrapers and #80s down rather than the tools. The #80 is an all-amazing tool and what the heat build up in your case is I don’t know. Both the cabinet scraper and the card scraper are absolutely indispensable and these tools will do everything the scraper plane does and very much more because there are places the scraper plane just will not go.

      2. Heat means friction. Could it be your tool is not really cutting, Clark? I tend to take the temperature as a warning that I went too long without sharpening.

  7. as a stair builder and handrailer, I just couldn’t do what I have to do without cabinet scrapers. the original and best finishing tools ever. I use a scraper ground to the shape of the handrail to finish the moulded edges, especially on twisted wreathed rails. beats sandpaper every time

  8. Does this same procedure work for the 112 scraper plane? How would you compare the 112 with the 80?

  9. Hi,,,

    Ummmm errrrr, being pretty new to all of this I dunna know what to use for a burnished or even what it means to burnish it. Am I just trying to turn the burr?? Good thing my gramps always told me to never be scared to ask a question…

    1. Burnishing is a combination of two effects on the steel, consolidation and polishing. Steel against steel does that. Imagine starting out with a hard piece of steel against the edge of the scraper and repeatedly pressing the steel against the bevel, or square edge in the case of a card scraper, The blade eventually starts to bulb over and forms a turned edge. You make it the more turned by elevating with each stroke but not too much.

      1. Thank you Paul for answering this question. I know you are very busy and have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. I’m amazed that you would find the time for me.

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