Professionals and Amateurs Together

Scraping vs Planing


When smoothing figured wood, when should I use a scraper vs a scraper plane or a hand plane? – Steven Marcq


Al Breed replies: I always feel that planing will give a cleaner finish than scraping when possible. I’ll plane unless the plane is pulling out chips in the surface. To plane figured wood like bird’s eye maple, I use a plane with a very narrow throat and with the chip breaker set very close to the edge of the blade. You may have to file back the inside of the casting of the plane at the throat to allow the chips to exit without jamming up.

Wiping the wood with a damp rag before planing will reduce chipping by softening the fibres. And you’ll just have to get over the trauma of getting water on your planes.

I have a Stanley #6 that I’ve tuned up as above that will plane bird’ eye just fine. This isn’t to say that I don’t scrape. Often I’ll scrape the narrow bands of grain in mahogany that go the other way and chip out. Other candidates for scraping are some nasty bird’s eyes and tiger maples as well as burls and burl veneers. Trying to plane even pretty plain veneers will generally end in misery. Scrape these with a really sharp scraper but be careful not to over-burnish the edge.

Tags: Hand Planes, Scraping, Tools