New Gold Standard of Scrapers

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Review by RogerBean posted 03-30-2014 07:00 PM 8635 views 19 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
New Gold Standard of Scrapers No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I don’t do a lot of reviews, reserving my efforts for those items I feel work extraordinarily well, or might be of particular interest. Scrapers may not sound all that exciting, but I find that I keep mine close on the bench at all times and use it on just about every project. For years I’ve been using the standard sheet metal shapers that cost about $7. I have all the usual shapes.

I recently purchased all three of the new Stewart-MacDonald “Ultimate Scrapers” and these are by far the best I’ve ever used. As most of my use now is for box making, I use scrapers for shaping, smoothing and even occasionally between coats of finishing to correct minute variations. Scrapers are my weapon of choice for cleaning up inlay banding and lines and bringing them to level with the surface. Also for leveling edging.

As many of you know, Stewart-MacDonald ( supplies tools and items for the stringed instrument building community. It’s also a treasure trove for box makers. They are well known for their unusually high quality products, and I’ve never been disappointed.

When I first opened the package I found three little fabric draw-string bags, each containing one of the scrapers. Like jewelry. And the scrapers don’t disappoint either. Out of the bag they peel a wonderful, even, clean shaving. they’re a bit smaller, as scrapers go; very controllable and precise, without the flex one gets with a regular scraper. The machined center provides a comfortable and firm hold on the scraper making it unusually comfortable to use. The heavier weight not only eliminates flex, but feels really good in the hand. The small curved scraper is a particularly nice size for box work, as the regular size $8 curved unit is really too large for most shaped box surfaces.

These are made of D2 high carbon, high chromium tool steel, so they ought to hold an edge for a good while. They are simple to sharpen, being hollow ground on a grinder set to dead center. This means that both sides are sharpened at the same time. It also means that it is much easier and faster to sharpen the curved surfaces. Sharpening instructions are included.

There are some tools we develop a personal relationship to because we use them often, and for things we deem particularly important. We value them and tend to take particularly good care of them. My little shop-made palm chisel is one of those. My scraper is another.

At about $30 each a lot of woodworkers will discard these as an extravagance for the wannabe executive woodworker. But nothing could be further from the truth. If you seek to do the best work, and value the best tools, these should be on your bench. They may be the best scrapers ever developed.

This is a lot of words over something as simple sounding as a flat piece of steel used to scrape wood, but for those of us who really like scrapers, well… However, if you’re happy with the regular $7 scraper, by all means stick with it. But, if you like the idea of a connoisseur scraper, you may want to try these.


-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4234 days

18 comments so far

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 2855 days

#1 posted 03-30-2014 07:38 PM

Hi Roger, you don’t say in your post but from the pics of them sitting next to a normal scraper they look to be about 5mm thick, although you do say they don’t flex. They look to be really well made and ergonomic so I suppose you get what you pay for.
Is the box Walnut with a burl top ? Looks good.

View dclark1943's profile


270 posts in 3468 days

#2 posted 03-30-2014 08:07 PM

Roger, Nice post, gonna have to get me some of those. As I have found myself using scrapers more and more as I do more and more in the veneer end of box building.

-- Dave, Kansas City

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4234 days

#3 posted 03-30-2014 09:05 PM

Yes, that’s the lid to a humidor that’s on the bench at the moment. Walnut and walnut burl. Probably be ready to post, along with the accompanying ebook, in a couple weeks. Getting close though.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View AaronK's profile


1512 posts in 4745 days

#4 posted 03-30-2014 09:27 PM

interesting – i wasnt familiar with these tools. Do you sharpen them flat or raise a burr like on thinner scrapers?

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4234 days

#5 posted 03-30-2014 11:00 PM

AaronK: they’re sharpened on a bench grinder. Hollow ground with the rest set at dead center on the grinder. When the edge is passed over the grinder the slight hollow is created, in effect, sharpening both sides at once. No need to turn a burr at all. And they cut really well.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 3906 days

#6 posted 03-30-2014 11:29 PM

I want some of these. Even with the hefty price tag, they look to be very high quality.

-- JoeyG ~~~

View turnerBob's profile


2 posts in 3031 days

#7 posted 03-30-2014 11:49 PM

Hello Roger, I enjoy your work tremendously. When grinding, what size wheel and grit is recommended? These could come in handy when turning if they are not too aggressive.

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4234 days

#8 posted 03-31-2014 12:13 AM

Thanks for the kind words. They’re appreciated. Instructions just say fine wheel, but I would imagine a fine 5” or 6” white wheel would be about right.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4584 days

#9 posted 03-31-2014 12:21 AM

these look really nice, i watched the video at the web site stew mac..they look like there worth the price, dont think i would need three of them, the one looks like it would do what i need…ive always enjoyed there web site and the tools they offer, really loaded with some great box makers tools, i have the small router…its been used countless times…, thanks for the heads up here roger…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View waho6o9's profile


9095 posts in 3858 days

#10 posted 03-31-2014 01:38 AM

Thanks for the review. Here’s a video on the scrapers.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4615 days

#11 posted 03-31-2014 09:33 AM

Looks like a great tool and a quick and relatively way to sharpen it too. I use my cabinet scrapers a lot, but I do tend to be a little lazy when it comes to keeping them sharp, so the added convenience makes it very appealing.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4296 days

#12 posted 03-31-2014 10:15 AM

Roger, you do such wonderful work, i’d take your reviews as words sent down from the box & tool gods. :-) thanks for the review and bringing these tools to us to consider.

View carver1942's profile


93 posts in 2985 days

#13 posted 03-31-2014 05:11 PM

Roger, thanks for the great review. I will be placing one of those scrapers on my wish list.

View carver1942's profile


93 posts in 2985 days

#14 posted 03-31-2014 05:12 PM

waho609, thanks for posting the video.

View CharlesA's profile


3469 posts in 3078 days

#15 posted 03-31-2014 07:58 PM

Just to confirm, a bench grinder is pretty much required to sharpen them. I need to get one sometime, but I haven’t had sufficient need to yet.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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