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How to Sharpen a Cabinet Scraper

Make Dull Cabinet Scrapers Sharp Again with a Burnisher

Like putting an edge on the other cutting tools you have in your shop, burnishing a scraper is metalworking, not woodworking… so don’t feel bad if you need a couple of pointers. The goal of this task is to roll a small bit of metal from both outside edges of the scraper to create two sharp hooks (Note: this metal is malleable, not brittle).

Make Dull Cabinet Scrapers Sharp Again with a Burnisher

Like putting an edge on the other cutting tools you have in your shop, burnishing a scraper is metalworking, not woodworking… so don’t feel bad if you need a couple of pointers. The goal of this task is to roll a small bit of metal from both outside edges of the scraper to create two sharp hooks (Note: this metal is malleable, not brittle).

Step 1:

Prepare the narrow edge. If you are resharpening a scraper, use your burnisher to flatten the existing remnant of the hook edge. The first time you sharpen a scraper, this is not necessary. Simply lay the scraper flat on a hardwood surface and slide the burnisher back and forth, flat against the face of the scraper. Push down hard as you do this. This action is called burnishing.


Step 2:

Prepare a consistent rectilinear edge on the scraper blade. To roll the edge over, it needs to be square before you start. Often that means filing a clean “top” edge. You just need to remove a tiny bit of metal. Don’t go crazy here.


Step 3:

Roll each hook. Clamp the prepared scraper between two pieces of wood or in a padded bench vise. The long edge of the scraper should stand proud about 3/8". I hold the burnisher with two hands and position it at about 20° to the face of the scraper. Then I slide the burnisher back and forth (yup, burnishing), pushing down hard on the edge. I alternate ''left and right'' using the same two-handed technique and a reciprocal angle, to form cutting hooks on both sides of the scraper. About five passes (max) for each hook edge is all it really takes.


To finish burnishing your scraper, set it up in a vise and scrape the edge back and forth with the burnisher.

Sharpening a Cabinet Scraper with a Burnisher

Interim Touchups:

You don’t always need to file the edge clean and square. You can go back to step three and touch up your edge a couple of times before you go all the way back to step one.


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