When I started in woodworking, I had never heard of a cabinet scraper. When I needed to start the finishing process, I always grabbed a piece of sandpaper. Then one day, I was introduced to the cabinet scraper. It’s probably the simplest tool in the shop; a flat piece of metal.
Actually, it’s not entirely flat, otherwise it wouldn’t do its job. It has a small burr on the edge that when you drag it (with proper technique, of course) works similar to a hand plane, scraping a thin amount of wood off the piece, hence its name, a cabinet scraper, or card scraper.
Eventually with use, as with every other woodworking tool, it will loose its sharpness, or edge. If your cabinet scraper is scraping up wood dust, instead of wood slivers, it will need to be re-burnished to work properly. It only takes a few minutes, with the proper technique of course.
As you can see, I have some videos posted below to explain how to sharper a cabinet scraper, but here are a few of the main points to remember.
There are three main steps to get your cabinet scraper into working order again.
First, get the edge(s) flat and square. You want to have 90 degree angles. You can do this by filing the existing burrs off while the scraper is being held in a vise.
Second, you need to create a sharp burr. You do this by stroking the burnisher over the edge a few times, holding it at an almost 90 degree angle. This will cause the metal of the edge of the scraper to hook over and create the burr that you want.
It takes a bit of practice to get it to work properly, depending on your tools and burnishing technique, but you will know when you get it done properly. Once you learn how to sharpen your cabinet scraper, it will save you an enormous amount of time from having to sand.
That being said, here are a few videos on how to sharpen a cabinet scraper. Techniques vary, so I find it better to watch a few different experts to find out what will work best for me. Enjoy.