A Question and Answer


Paul, the last picture which is the close-up of you using the card scraper, shows you using the heel of your hand to help bend and push the scraper. I love using the card scraper. It’s one of my favorite tools to use. But I’m having a hard time now due to arthritis at the base of the thumbs (I’m your age). It hurts. I’ve tried using the scraper as you show in the picture but I have a hard time doing it that way. Any suggestions? Thanks.


Greg, I think the lightly curved scrapers help a great deal because with the curved edge they need much less thumb and hand flexing/pressure if indeed they need any. I just make my own by grinding and filing a radius. Sharpening is otherwise the same.


I was getting ready to post my own scraper holder type in answer too because this has to be the simplest card scraper holder and I can make one in about five minutes max from scrap and a lone wood screw.

Here we go!

It’s always surprised me how complicated simplicity becomes in so many realms. Scraper holders for card scrapers need no adjustable bending to have the card scraper cut, they just need a bend. For standard card scrapers, a bandsaw kerf will usually match the card scraper plate thickness or close to. For a thinner plate, slice the curve all the way through, add a shim the card scraper thickness and screw and glue the one end back together.

One scrap of wood, any wood, 7″ long or two inches longer than your particular scraper cut to 3/4″ by 1″.

Make a curved rip cut along the length to an inch from the end through the wider 1″ face.

Make a 3/16″ hole 3/4″ from the open end of the wood but through to the saw kerf only.

Countersink the hole to seat the screw and prevent splitting by pressure.

Drill a smaller pilot hole for the screw thread to bite into the wall of the smaller hole on the opposite side of the saw kerf.

Slide the scraper into the kerf.

Set the screw.

You can now adjust the distance of the scraper edge by slackening the screw and shunting the plate where you feel you get the best cut.

You can adjust the distance from the holder to optimise scraping performance.

I like the corner of the holder to rest on the surface of the wood being scraped which then fixes the angle solidly and allows for good pressure to be focussed without any flexing of thumbs or hands.

Here the plate cuts with the corner of the holder on the surface of the wood being scraped. Such a good presentation adding ease throughout use.

Remove hard corners according to feel using a rasp, chisel or spokeshave and file.

You can see how this simple device curves the plate effortlessly. I can use it without applying the screw with no problem or slippage too.

Hand Hold Options

The nice thing about the holder is there is no need for applying pressure to flex the plate via two thumbs or the heel of the hands as is usual at all. You can easily pull it or push it which makes it really nice too. I love this flexibility and optionality.

Position one:

Two thumbs and fingers in place but no bending need from the hands, fingers or thumbs at all.

Position two:

Heel of hand for pressure only and opposite hand for support

Position three:

Both hand heels applying pressure and gripping with fingers

Position four:

It’s very enjoyable to use the holder in a pulling position — very powerful too.
Pulling power is very accessible.

Total cost? Not even a penny!

Time to make? Three to five minutes.


  1. Brilliant.
    As I have no bandsaw, I would use a coping saw and, if necessary, refine the cut with a spokeshave or rasp. Of course with two screws if in two pieces.

  2. Great idea! Thank you. As an aside, your bandsaw blade top guide seems quite open or is it just for photograph reasons?

      1. Dear Paul, I also am the proud and happy owner of a Startrite 403 bandsaw. The lower wheel inside and probably outside bearing needs to be replaced . Im wondering if you have ever had to remove and replace these on your saw. Im thinking they may be removable by removing the cir-clips. Then taping on the inner race of the outside bearing from the other side lightly, in a circular manor. Then using an old outer race to sneak in the new bearing with light taps, and reinstall the clip.

        1. I have replaced bandsaw bearings but not on any machines I currently own. Bandsaws are not complex machines and as they are all made in Taiwan (almost all those made and sold in the last ten years anywhere in the world) and are copies of US and UK-type machines anywhere from Delta to Grizzly and Startriteb to Axminster they are very much the same ol same ol. It’s not complicated and a wheel or pulley puller should remove the wheel/s readily enough. Yes pinch of the circlip and you should have no problem.

  3. I have used a scraper plane, Stanley no. 80, which gave good results on large-ish flat surfaces with variable grain. Would that be an option for Greg, the original poster? Having a pair of handles to hold rather than the steel card may be easier for arthritic hands. Number 80 planes go for £20-£30 in the UK on the second market.

    1. Just for clarity it’s not a scraper plane, the #80, it’s a cabinet scraper. I appreciate you answering and taking the time. It is an answer.

  4. PS, sorry, just read the original article and now realise that you already showed the No.80 scraper plane in action!

  5. Perfect timing! I just got my first set of card scrapers. Tried them out using only my hands and thought “should I buy a holder or could I make one?” I’m gonna make this today! Thanks Paul.

  6. My mid-80s arthritic fingers & wrists complain about my straight-line card scraper, too. Though filing its edge to a gentle curve along its length as you suggest does help quite a bit, but not enough.
    I found the old Stanley #80M and very similar Veritas scrapers a big help. They are sort of light in weight, however.
    So just for the fun of it I bought a KUNZ Scraping Plane, No. 112 for what, $120 or so.
    It’s ugly and clumsy looking (like me). Getting it set up and figuring out how to manage the blade bend without instructions was a challenge but some experimenting resolved that. I now go to it regularly especially with harder wood. I think because it’s not only shaped somewhat like a standard plane but more importantly it’s relatively quite heavy that makes it work well with my complaining paws. Doug Irish, Scottsdale, Arizon.

    1. I would sure like to know how you set up your Kunz 112!
      I got mine years ago and have often thought of taking it to the scrapyard next time I have a load.
      I bought it years back and it left chatter marks all over the work surface. I tuned it according to instructions I think came from Woodcraft. I did manage to improve it, but it still leaves chatter marks, rather deep ones. Maybe it would work better on really hard woods, but soft stock like pine is a no go.

      1. Probably the best place for any of scraper planes is the skip or the scrapyard and just invest in a #80 which deals with any and everything you comer up against.

  7. The best thing I came up with to save my arthritic thumbs is to pull the scraper whenever possible.

  8. Paul, Surprised how that “simple steal” (your phrase) works until the grain pucks up, so I just scrape the other way – cool tool. My scrapers helped shape the top and bottom curves on my 7 beam marking gauge set, ref your Youtube from a few years back. thanks.

  9. Evidently Diet can help considerably with arthritis (albeit I can’t and don’t try anymore to convince my mom of that… she recently had hand surgery but then infection… and almost became one handed.) And it’s free (most likely less expensive than the diet you are on now:) Lots of resources out there. eg China Study. I am currently reading a library book by John Robbins “Healthy at 100 : _Scientifically Proven_ Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples”. We want/need you guys around for as long as possible!

  10. I’ve also seen folk recommending using a slightly curved scraper edge, thus avoiding the need to bend the scraper.

  11. Thanks a lot Paul!
    This is exactly what I need too.
    And thanks to Greg who ask the question.

  12. Brilliant! Thank you! You have made working with wood so much more
    relaxed and enjoyable because you share the ease of working wood with hand tools.
    Love these simple learning lessons from you so much.

  13. If all else fails, seek out pre packed diclofenac spray, not for arthritis per se, but it quietens down soft tissue inflammations provoked in affected sites eg. hands. No known issues or side effects if used according to directions etc. etc.

  14. off the subject, but a question about adjustable wooden plough plane, regarding the front and back skates, should they be of equal height ? i.e. both contact the work totally at the same time ?
    sorry if my question is not relevant.
    thanks from the US

    1. I have seen them lessened at the front but they can be level as mine are and they work fine, same as bench planes really. Also, some woodworkers think it best to start at the fore-end of the wood and take full-length strokes but all too often that’s totally impractical on long lengths where we start at the further point away from us and work backwards in short strokes. I

    2. Hand planes do not work the same way as motorised planers.
      As long as there is a relief angle at the tip of the cutting iron, it should work.

  15. Thanks for the tips and ideas Paul, and my 87 year old thumb joints thank you too!

    Regards, James

  16. Is that a variable TPI bandsaw blade or an optical illusion? I’m curious as to the TPI.


  17. Hi Paul.
    I have a cabinet with a dovetail joint from around 1860, that nobody can figure out how was made. Any chance, you are up for the challenge to make that joint?

  18. Hi, Paul. I have watched your video on shiarpening a card scraper. I have watched many more besides yours too. I can’t seem to get the results thiat you get. I have tried many methods trying to find one that works for me, but to no avail. I must be doing something wrongk but I can’t seem to find the problem. Do you have any words of wisdom other than the video you posted?


    1. It’s one of those tasks where you have to be there to watch your trainee doing it to see what is being done wrong. Most often though is that the person turns the edge over too much rather than not enough. Try burnishing the edge into just a ‘T’ first and then trying it on hard dense wood almost perpendicular to the wood. Just to see if you get any kind of shaving then add a couple of degrees to the same edges and try again but this time tilting the scarper so that the cutting edge corner bites and see what happens. `each time you get a success keep altering the angle of burnishing but only a little.

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