Canadian Woodworking

Blue Spruce card scrapers and burnisher

Highly effective at producing smooth, nearly finish-ready surfaces and very economical when compared to using sandpaper.

There is likely no other woodworking tool that is so simple yet so practical as a card scraper. Once you understand how to use this tool and experience how effective it is at refining flat and curved surfaces, you’ll never want to be without one. A card scraper gives a smoother surface more quickly than you can get with sandpaper, and leaves a lustrous tear-free finish even on figured hardwood. Like a hand plane it shears wood fibers, which produces wood shavings; sandpaper abrades wood, generating copious amounts of fine dust that can clog wood pores. It quickly removes mill marks left by jointers and planers, and the smoother surface you get with a card scraper also allows for a better absorption of the finish.

Manufacturer: Blue Spruce Toolworks
Sizes: 4″, 6″, 6″ curved
Price (USD): Scrapers: 4″ ($21.99), 6″ ($27.99), 6″ curved ($24.99), set of 3 ($69.99)
Burnisher: $89.99
Warranty: Lifetime
Made in: USA

 

Scrapers:

  • 3″ by 4″, 3″ by 6″, and 2-1/4″ by 6″
  • 1/16″ thick
  • 1095 tool steel

 

Burnisher:

  • 10″ long
  • 3/8″ by 1-1/2″ rod
  • Two figured maple handles

Blue Spruce Toolsworks is a manufacturer of some of the finest woodworking tools available. Professional woodworkers have consistently rated their chisels and layout tools as exceptional. The company has now come out with a set of three innovative card scrapers along with a two-handed burnisher.

There are two things that set these card scrapers apart from anything else on the market, First is their thickness – at 1/16″ they’re twice as thick as conventional scrapers, which means they won’t flex in use (creating a sight scallop in your work surface). You want the scraper to be flush and flat against the work surface (unless of course you’re working curved stock).

blue spruce card scraper
L to R: conventional scraper; Blue Spruce scraper

Second is the the gentle curve on the corners – which prevents the scraper from inadvertently digging into a work surface.

blue spruce card scraper
Rounded corners won’t dig in.

The only drawback is that the curved corners prevent you from using the scraper on very narrow rabbets – in which case it’s out the old scraper or a chisel.

blue spruce card scraper
See the gap in the photo above? Not for squaring up shoulders or narrow rabbets.

What I found after using these scrapers for a couple of weeks is that they hold an edge like nobody’s business. At least twice as long as my Bahco scraper. Just like any scraper you need to put a burr on each cutting edge before using them. And for that Blue Spruce has a two-handed burnisher. This thing is a joy to use. The two handles enables you to apply consistent pressure at your chosen angle with ease.

Blue Spruce burnisher
Arguably the best burnisher on the market.

Because of the extra thickness of the Blue Spruce scrapers the burnisher has more surface to ride over, which makes it easier to maintain a consistent angle while moving the burnisher across the scraper. I found that it only takes a few passes to create the burr. You can control  the aggressiveness of the cutting action of a scraper by varying the angle you create on its edge. However it’s easy to apply too much pressure and end up with a very aggressive burr. With a bit of practice you’ll quickly learn to feel the sweet spot. I also use this burnisher with my conventional scrapers.

For me, the big payoff is that the Blue Spruce scrapers are fast to use, highly effective at producing smooth, nearly finish-ready surfaces and very economical when compared to using sandpaper.

Blue Spruce card scrapers
A joy to use.

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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