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Making scrapers


Guest DFogg

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I am discovering that tool making is a large part of doing carving. One of the tools that I found myself making were scrapers. What I did was adapt a cheap Exacto handle to accept a thicker shaped scraper.

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For the steel, I used 3/32 nds 15N20 tool steel. This is a high nickel content steel that even unhardened has good toughness. It can be bought in small quantities from Swain Spring Shop, Jeff Carlisle, 1-406-452-1246.

 

The collet in the Exacto handle is set up for a much thinner blade so the first set is to open the collet with a file. It is made from aluminum so it files easily. You will need a file the same thickness as the blade material or thinner. Fit stock to collet to check.

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I beveled the curved edge so that I could get the blade right up to the perpenticular section that I was carving. Wood scrapers are sharpened by rolling a burr up on the edge. A good tool for this is a worn out carbide end mill. They are common in my shop, but you can pick one up from a local machine shop for next to nothing. Carbide is great because it will not scratch and can be mirror polished by chucking it up in a drill press or lathe and turning it with diamond paste. To use it on the scraper, position it on the corner of the outside edge and draw it across the lenght of the blade.

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With a micro burr on the edge you can pull dust off the carving with little effort. The finished scraper is ready to use in a useful and inexpensive handle. You can make the blade to any shape with a grinder or file and fit them to the handle quickly.

 

Notice the fine burr on the curve.

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Don, it never fails to amaze me how you knife guys can go through steel like beavers through trees! I always find working with hard metals difficult and sometimes quite onerous. And then trying to temper small tools…

 

Since the carving materials I like to use are very hard, I often find it more expedient to use scrapers than knives. I make my own scrapers from sharpened dental tools. Your dentist may have old ones to give you, if you ask nicely. If not, they are available from dental supply houses, and sometimes from carving supply catalogs.

 

Note that there are some dental tools that look more like tapered, bent wire, and are round in cross section. Those are not the ones to use; they can't be sharpened into scrapers.

 

The bottom tool (shown in top and side views) has a leaf-shaped end, and one that is round. Their faces are flat, and I sharpen all sides. The hook shaped tool is triangular in cross section on both of the business ends, and I sharpen the inside edges of the hooks. I've added several magnified views of the business ends. Since these are scrapers, I find it useful to burnish the edges with a hard piece of steel (usually I use the smooth end of a drill bit). Burnishing will cause the fine edge of the dental scraper to curl over slightly and improve its cutting action. Don't remove the wire edge from sharpening and burnishing. Scrapers require this tiny, rough wire edge to cut with.

 

Another makeshift tool I find useful is one of the ruby carvers or diamond abrasive bits held in a pin vise. By choosing a bit of the right shape, you can use it to smooth many areas where conventional sandpaper or polyester pads simply can't reach. It's simple, effective, and cheap.

 

Tom

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Steel beavers, that's funny. I can do a tutorial on hardening small tools if you would like. It is really easy with small sections because you can get the temps you need with a propane torch.

 

I like the dental scrapers and will have to try that out. Thanks.

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Don, I'd love to see a tutorial on tempering, especially very small tools. I always seem to end up with either an incredibly hard and brittle edge, or a soft bendy one. I know in Masatoshi's book he describes netsuke tool making in a similar light, with lots of unsuccessful attempts for each success. If one of you "steel beavers" can shed some light (or in this case, heat) I, at least, would be eternally grateful...

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The beveled edge appears twice now. Hmmm, I think that I will have to see if a couple of my tools would benefit my work by doing that! Would a polished high speed drill bit be a good burnisher?

 

Tempering would be a great subject to read about. There are other parts to this subject, such as which metals to use, shapes and sources for such metal items, annealing and shaping, all things which are part of the process of tool making.

 

Janel

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Hi Janel,

 

Yes, a drill bit will work fine to make a burnished edge on a scraper. It doesn't even need to be polished, just reasonably smooth. All you're really trying to do is to bend the wire edge left from sharpening over a little, so it really acts like a tiny wood plane and takes off microscopically thin shavings. They look like dust to the naked eye, but if you look at them under a microscope, they're little shavings. You still need to observe the same rules about wood grain as using a blade (work downhill, or the scraper will chatter and leave a corrugated surface). Works great for ivories, bone, horn and antler as well.

 

If any of this is confusing, look up how to use and sharpen cabinet scrapers. All the same thing, only we're using much smaller versions in different shapes.

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How thick are the blades that you commonly work with? I recently purchase a knife that took scapel blades, but found that they snapped easily and really weren't that sharp out of the package.

 

I am getting ready for a show next weekend and don't have the time to work up a tutorial right now, but will when I get back. There is a carver that I want anyway and this would be a good excuse.

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How thick? Difficult to answer, since I do most waste removal with an electric grinder and burrs, then move to small chisels, some purchased and some made by me. After that come the scrapers, then abrasives like polyester pads and sandpaper, then polishing. All that is probably followed by another round of the same tools in the same order again to correct lots of little problems exposed by the polishing phase. The dental scrapers are quite thick (considering their small sizes) and do not flex appreciably.

 

The small chisels I use are mostly skew and flats, with occasionally some small gouges. The chisels are pretty thick for their size and only the very smallest flex at all (about the thickness of a #2 pencil lead). I don’t think you want thin blades, nor gentle tapers since you’re putting quite a bit of pressure and torque on them. I don’t use v chisels, since in the hard materials I use the little scraper points serve that purpose. I have several knives that sometimes are useful, with fairly thin blades, although not nearly as thin as scalpel blades. I tend to use scalpels for general purpose sorts of tasks, but no heavy carving, since it’s much quicker to use the electric grinder.

 

Here are some pictures of the tools. The little chisels with the octagonal handles are commercially available Dockyard brand, and I like them a lot. The round handled ones are just flats made by me from piano wire available at hobby shops with the balsa wood. The light colored handle is a shaker peg available a woodworking stores and a nice quick and dirty handle solution. The clear plastic tubing in the pictures is used to cover the business ends of chisels and knives for safety.

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I just bought a set of those Dockyard chisels and they are really nice. It will be fun to do the tutorial and I will try to use equipment and supplies that we all have available.

 

More tools pictures, please.

 

Actually I would love to see everyones working environment. Shop photos are always interesting. :)

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Here's one of my workhorse scrapers made from a small triangle file. You can shape the tip according to need and the extra thickness I think cuts down on chatter. I find chatter to be one of the main, perhaps the main drawback to scraping, and that a heavier tool reduces that.

 

All hail scraping! :)

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Hi Jim, Nice tool!

 

Is the triangular file a triangle in cross section, putting the cutting edge at the intersection of a greater angle than a knife? I also use the triangle principle when making my favorite tools. The concept behind the tool on the lower left of the image came from reading the book about bone carving by Stephen Myhre. Ten years later, I was able to acquire a couple of his tools, and I learned that my tools have evolved into something different. I like his tools, and I like mine, each having their own uses.

 

The slanted oval face makes a good two sided scraping tool, or the end may be used as a gouge. The largest here is 1/4" in diameter, made from a Sears Craftsman pin punch. There are two qualities available, I found by chance. The more expensive one may be a higher grade of metal and hold a sharp edge longer. The smallest I use is a sewing needle, smaller than a darning needle, which is also in my tool set.

 

The three sided tool is ground on a whet stone until the three faces are about equal. One side is dedicated to being curved, again on the whet stone, which gives the tool two larger and rounded scraping edges, and the point is great for undercutting. Well, cutting is a relative term, more scraping occurs with the hard materials I use. The tool sizes to date are from a very tiny high speed drill bit to a larger a third or 3/32" high speed drill bit (the cutting end if the drill bit is set into the handle). The in between sizes are Sears pin punches. It is possible that I annealed and hardened the larger tool for working with the hard metal. That was long ago, memory fails me...

 

There are more tool discussions on the International Netsuke Society Forums:

http://forums.netsuke.org/tool/mb/netsuke

 

This site has just announced a significant addition to its forum topics, a whole area (huge) for netsuke carver's on-topic discussion! Have a look and when you have netsuke relevant information or ideas to share or ask about, please contribute there as well. Netsuke are a special part of the world of small sculptural carving!

 

Janel

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Hi Janel, The triangle file is just tapered on all three sides, right to the point, leaving a triangle with one face being the cutting(scraping) one. To me, there is something about having a little extra mass behind that face that I think gives more support, and hence, less chatter. Sometimes these things would be very hard to measure, and the advantage may all be in my head, but there it is, none-the-less. I'm willing to take any advantage i can find.

 

The slanted oval made from a round looks oh-so-useful. I'm going to make one immediately!

:)

You could use it going left and right on either side and as you say as a gouge. Sweet :)

 

It's nice to see the expanded INS forum.

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Here's one of my workhorse scrapers made from a small triangle file. You can shape the tip  according to need and the extra thickness I think cuts down on chatter. I find chatter to be one of the main, perhaps the main drawback to scraping, and that a heavier tool reduces that.

 

All hail scraping!  :)

Hi Jim,

Are you using that scraper on metal? Would you use it instead of a graver, and if so, why? I use gravers with no heel, so I suppose they could be called scrapers.

Bob :)

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Hi Bob,

 

I am very short on knowing the vernacular for metal working tools. I can guess what a graver is, but would like to know for sure what it is and its intended use, and what do you mean "gravers with no heel", what is a heel? Do they have varying kinds of shapes, uses and attributes?

 

I probably am using tools that would be called gravers, but until I know what words mean relative to the tool and uses I'll call them something else!

 

(My college days were back in the late sixties and early seventies, and the art class information was filed away long ago, hidden from my current grey cell usage. Besides learning is fun!)

 

Janel

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Hi Bob,

 

I am very short on knowing the vernacular for metal working tools.  I can guess what a graver is, but would like to know for sure what it is and its intended use, and what do you mean "gravers with no heel",  what is a heel?  Do they have varying kinds of shapes, uses and attributes?

 

I probably am using tools that would be called gravers, but until I know what words mean relative to the tool and uses I'll call them something else!

 

(My college days were back in the late sixties and early seventies, and the art class information was filed away long ago, hidden from my current grey cell usage.  Besides learning is fun!)

 

Janel

Hi Janel,

I went tocllege in the late 60's, early 70's too, so I know what you 're talking about.

Gravers are a push type tool for cutting metal. I'll post some photos when I get some taken. They come in many shapes and sizes, and I make many of my own. Most engravers will talk about putting a heel on their gravers. It refers to the way the point is sharpened. My gravers have no heel. In other words, The bottom side of the tool is flat or staight to the point. Having a heel would mean that the bottom of the tool has a bevel sharpened on it. Not have a heel on my gravers forces me to angle the tool lower. A heel allows the engraver to hold his graver at a higher angle. I get around the angle problem with a tool that I rest my graver on and use it as a fulcrum (I'll send pictures). For me, it wouldn't be practical to sharpen a heel on every graver, because I have more than a hundred gravers in different shapes and sizes, and it would be impractical to sharpen a heel on them each time I sharpen them. An engraver might use a single tool for most of his work, so it's a little different. If this diatribe doesn't confuse you, I'll send you more info. Bob :):):blink::blink:

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Hi Bob,

 

I look forward to seeing the images sometime. It sounds like some of the tools that I use/have made are like gravers. Have you made your gravers? What sort of metal do you use? Do you add handles?...

 

If you make informational replies to this subject, would you add your topic to the Gravers topic which I will make after sending this reply?

 

Janel

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I make gravers and chisels for myself and others quite a bit, I generally use O-1 "drill rod", it's ideal for metalworking, otherwise I use W-1 "drill rod" for wood and softer materials.

AKA Oilhardening drill rod (0-1) and waterhardening drill rod (w-1)

I get them from industrial supply places like MSC Industrial supply, and both steels can be had in ideal sizes for the tools I see pictured here, right down to 1/32 inch if needed, I usally get both in 1/4 inch and form tools from that.

 

Both can be heat-treated in exceedingly simple bench-top set-ups as well, torch, fire bricks, and a hot-plate with a stainless container of peanut oil and very high-end heat-treatments can be done... if there is interest in something like that I could put it together in my shop and get some pics and operational info... then I won't have guilt over sucking your brains dry...

:D

 

W-1 is also what I use for scrapers, the hook you can burnish onto W-1 is awesome.

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Well...I would like to see what you have to show, or at least read words describing what the processes are, how and why they are done. I have only done rudimentary heat treating in years past, but would like to learn more about it.

 

Thanks for offering! It would be good here in Tools & Technical under its own topic, or under the Tutorials topic if done with a sequence of photos and narration.

 

 

Janel

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.....

Both can be heat-treated in exceedingly simple bench-top set-ups as well,  torch, fire bricks, and a hot-plate with a stainless container of peanut oil and very high-end heat-treatments can be done... if there is interest in something like that I could put it together in my shop and get some pics and operational info... then I won't have guilt over sucking your brains dry...

:)

Randal, I would love to see your benchtop heat treatment setup and techniques.

 

BTW, that W-1 kogatana leading off your gallery is really a sweet piece.

 

-- Dwight

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  • 10 months later...

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I dropped in on a locally owned hobby shop in Pittsburgh and found two great tools that are quickly rising to the top of my toolbox.

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They are made by Squadron Tools, who sell them as a scriber and a seam/glue scraper. They're made of Pakistani steel, which in my experience isn't the best, but the profiles are very handy. The scraper, especially, has right and left-handed on either end. It's working very well where I need a flat, indented surface such as the bottom of a large inlay pocket. They sell from $9-$10 online and in shops.

 

Both work by a pulling action that is different than the scrapers discussed so far in this thread, and which I'm finding very easy.

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Hi,

Here are two sets of scrapers/chisels I bought at the Grizzley outlet. They are also in their catalog. They are $5.95 for the set of 4 scrapers (model H5914) and $9.95 for the miniature chisels (model H5915). They hold an edge well.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.aspx?itemnumber=h5914

http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.aspx?itemnumber=h5915

 

Dick

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