Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Baxter, Tennessee
Well let me jump in here and give some insight to scrapers. First of all a cutting tool used properly will give a better finish than a scraper. A scraper scrapes wood, a cutting tool cuts wood. Cuts are cleaner. So ideally you practice with the cutting tools learning to get the cleanest finish you can.
OK, now the reality. Most people don't cut that clean. It does take skill, lots of practice and very sharp tools. consequently we learn to scrape. Now there are 2 kinds of scraping. With the tool held flat you get a scraping action. By the way the scraping edge needs to be lower than the handle or you risk a catch. The bar should be parallel to the bed or higher to be safe and you should be scraping on center of above.
The above method gives you pretty good control if you take really light cuts. Usually this is used to clean up tool marks or to smooth out curves where you have uneven thickness. As I mentioned above good cutting technique will eliminate these and the need for scraping but I'm going back to talking about scraping.
Shear scraping is different. The tool is held at a 45 degree angle (approximately) and pulled with the handle higher. this is really a cutting action because the burr on the tool acts like a cutting edge. You do have to sort of find the best angle but it doesn't take long. Cut with the lower 1/2 of the scraper to prevent a catch and keep the handle higher than the cutting edge.
Sharpening angles. I have switched to 45 degrees instead of the the old 80 degrees or so. The reason. I don't use it as a scraper very often and tend to use them as shear scrapers. it's easier to raise a good burr on a scraper sharpened at 45 degrees.
There is also a new thing on the market called negative rake scraping. If you have ever used a skew on it's side as a scraper then you have used a negative rake scraper. This is a scraper with a bevel on the top and a bevel on the bottom. This accomplishes 2 things. first of all it makes it easier to keep the scraper tip below the handle. This is called negative rake if your into metal working and that's why they call it a negative rake scraper. Secondly the forces from the wood pull a negative rake scraper down on the tool rest which means less force is going into the wood which gives you more control. With a regular scraper held with the handle up you are pushing into the wood slightly and don't have as much control as a negative rake scraper.
I hope this clears up of the mistique. don't be afraid of a scraper, they are good tools, very handy easy to use if sharpened and used correctly. However your goal should be to use cutting tools like bowl gouges and spindle gouges. You will have to do less sanding once you learn to learn to use these correctly.