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My Own Scraper Burnisher

It’s been some time since I designed my own burnisher. Having used so many I thought I could develop one that was specifically designed for my own hand according to preferences and knowledge I had gained over several decades. I have used it every day since I turned the handle and slid the hardened steel into its place. Whereas any burnisher of any shape and made from almost any hardenable steel will consolidate, burnish and turn the cutting edges I need to any type of scraper, and that includes the #80 cabinet scraper and rounded versions too, I admit to this being my best shot bar none.

I shaped the steel according to the gradual bend I liked the most after trying four or five slightly different angles. It’s a simple enough task to pound round rod into an oval and then draw out the end to elongate the point. While it’s still hot, two or a few taps will reconfigure the shape. Before hardening it was best to remove the hammer marks on abrasive although that’s not really necessary at all. I polished it out on abrasive with hardly any effort and then it went through the hardening process before final polishing on cotton mop on a bench grinder.

Though I think a ferrule in brass looks nice it’s not at all necessary for strengthening as the pressure is not that great and of course it is not a struck tool in any way. By filing three flats on the round bar end to allow for epoxy to adhere in the flats to the wall of the hole in the handle I had pretty much finished the metal working part.

The handle I turned on the lathe, as you can see, simplicity is the name of the game. Literally a few minutes to finishing it out completely with a little stain and three coats of shellac. I could only get the ‘Sellers’ aspect of my personal name via the name stamp on the handle but I’m just fine with that. They say, “a fool’s name is written everywhere!

No need for a drawn out tang as such. I just dripped in a few drops of two-part epoxy and the only thing left was a quick wipe over with a soft cloth.

11 Comments

  1. Sylvain on 31 July 2019 at 1:12 pm

    The video on Instagram shows how to use it. Instead of varying the angle, one just move away from the handle. Genial idea.
    Sylvain

    • Joe on 3 August 2019 at 1:36 am

      Hi Paul,
      Would it be possible for any video on Instagram to also be included on your Master Class free video site? I only mention this because I don’t go out to Instagram. I am certainly capable of it. It’s just one more platform I would need to check for things. Many thanks for considering this.
      Sincerely,
      Joe

    • Daniel on 28 August 2019 at 11:35 pm

      Who wants to have to log into Instagram? I only have so much internet time.

  2. stephen on 31 July 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Is there any reason not to use the back of a chisel if the chisel steel is harder than the scraper blade? Tage Frid recommended this just to “not have to buy another tool” in his classic series Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking. He also “ground” the bevel of a No. 80 cabinet scraper blade at 25-30 degrees and puts the burr on at 40 degrees. Wondering if that is sound practice?

    Many Thanks for all of your care and practical help!
    stephen

  3. Steve P on 31 July 2019 at 3:21 pm

    So is the bend there to take place of angling the rod 10-15 degrees? You just hold the base perpendicular to the scraper and let the bent angle do the work?

  4. Tone on 5 August 2019 at 10:52 am

    Proops Bros. of Leicester often sell a short, inexpensive burnisher with a similar curved end on eBay for about £3.50. I have one and the straight version too. Proops sell Sheffield- made tools but these were made in India.

    • Paul Sellers on 5 August 2019 at 11:25 am

      But they are nothing like mine in terms of sizing, quality, handling etc. Just saying.

  5. Jim Evatt on 5 August 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I really like your tool, but I don’t want to spend the extra time it takes to make it. I have used a screw driver, and that seems to work for me. However, I might just try to get around to making one like yours. Thanks!

  6. Loxmyth on 5 August 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Could you say a bit more about the rod you used and how you prepared it? As a novice I’ve seen a lot of statements about the burnisher needing to be hardened — up to and including using carbide for the purpose — and that does make sense for the task, but it’s far from obvious how hard is hard enough.

    As with sharpening of other kinds, there is more mystery and marketing here than is really useful, and for me making the burnisher would be another excuse not to start using scrapers. I’m willing to pay a bit and accept some inelegance in order to get past that hump. While I appreciate the reminder that any woodworker can pick up some basic metalworking skills and make/modify tools, it’s a distraction for me right now.

  7. P.R. Gaffney on 6 August 2019 at 2:44 am

    Paul,
    I have followed your WWMC site for years, but do not have the knowledge or experience to know how to draw out a round steel rod. Is there a possibility of having something like that added to the YouTube channel or WWMC? I know that you address this in your wooden spokeshave video, but the burnisher seems to add the drawing out step and I would appreciate some guidance in that department. Thank you for all that you do for us average Joe woodworkers!

    • Paul Sellers on 6 August 2019 at 7:46 am

      It’s more an added luxury to lengthen the point to a taper and then make it oval. You could just ned the round bar as in my burnisher and that works well too. Then of course the hardening, which is so simple to do with the right blowtorch. I’m afraid my area of experimentation and research does not make me an expert adviser so `i usually try to stick to what I know best.

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