I finally finished up the video below that I recorded of Philip C. Lowe, founder of the Furniture Institute Of Massachusetts, demonstrating how to use a burnisher to sharpen cabinet and card scrapers. I shot this at a meeting of the Society Of American Period Furniture Makers New England chapter held at FIM last winter.
Scrapers are mysterious beasts, often a challenge for beginners to sharpen. I've collected a number of sharpening methods over the years. This is one of two methods I've learned recently that are far superior to what I had been doing in the past.
While there's a lot of information out there on card scrapers, there isn't much on cabinet scrapers. In the hands of someone who knows how to sharpen them, both are spectacular tools.
You use the cabinet scraper first, after planing, to remove any plane tracks or machine marks. This is the rougher of the two tools. Phil says to scrape from both ends into the middle, even though one direction will be working against the grain and might raise it a bit. Then follow up with the card scraper for a final smooth surface.
This wasn't my first introduction to the sharpening method. Phil published the card scraper part in an article in Fine Woodworking #147 back in 2001. I saw it reprinted in the book Working with Handplanes: The New Best of Fine Woodworkingin 2005 when I was just in the process of figuring out this hand tool stuff. He published the cabinet scraper part in FW #234 in 2013.
But it wasn't until I actually watched him do it at this meeting that it really clicked for me. I hope the video will do the same for you. This is a free lesson from a master craftsman.
Phil sells a reproduction of a specific type of burnisher that Stanley used to make, and the video provides instructions on how to use its unique feature. The key point is dealing with the problem of over-rolling the hook, a primary source of difficulty for beginners (I was definitely one of them).
Whether you use this style of burnisher or a different style, the method he shows is excellent. The magnificent shavings he produces with it attest to that. He uses waterstones for the honing portion of the process, but the method works fine with other types of stones as well.
If you're interested in purchasing one of these burnishers, you can find them at the FIM tools page.