I have used cabinet scrapers for wood preparation for years. A finely prepared and sharpened cabinet scraper is a joy to use and many times it’s the only tool that will tame wildly figured woods, ultimately leaving a slick surface ready for a finish. A cabinet scraper is light weight, can be ground to a custom shape for special applications and easy to sharpen and use. It’s biggest drawback is that using it for long periods of time, burns and creates aching fingers. Also to make them easy to sharpen the steel used usually have a lower Rockwell hardness rating. Because of this they dull rather quickly. I still love working with my cabinet scrapers though.
The other day I saw an article from Popular Woodworking by Chris Schwarz discussing the Stanley No. 80 cabinet scraper. After reading that article, I just had to have a No. 80 for my shop. Went ebay hunting next! Well, it didn’t take long to find one up for sale as a buy it now or make an offer. I took a shot at it for $30 (he was asking $45). He claimed the tool was never used but just had minor nicks in the japanning here and there which the pictures showed. Happily I did snag it for my price.
Actually it ended up being just an okay deal. Once I received it I immediately noticed it was missing the iron adjusting nut. Oh well, back to ebay. I quickly found one in good condition for 6 bucks with free shipping. Now the scraper was complete.
The iron or scraper blade came with surface rust but no pitting. Definitely looked to be full size and not user sharpened, a machined 45 degree bevel was evident. The iron for this scraper is much thicker (.043) than the usual hand held cabinet scraper and most likely will hold an edge better. Will see how that works out once I put the scraper through some work.
The sole also had some surface rust but no pitting or wear marks. This Stanley No 80 scraper appears to have never been used!
I found the original sharpening directions from Stanley. I was interested in seeing what they recommended for the procedure.
Preparing the iron to take shavings is pretty straight forward. It took some time to get the back polished but sharpening the bevel and turning the hook went quickly. Since both edges of the iron are sharpened I found that holding the iron in the hand was uncomfortable with a sharp bevel digging into my palm. I made a simple block to insert the iron in and it made all the difference. I started sharpening using wet/dry on granite at 380 grit then went to 600, 1000 and finally 2500.
I couldn’t help but to clean up the metal and re-paint the japanning as it was nicked here and there. The scraper worked better than I thought it would. Effortless shavings on curly hard maple. At one time I had the Veritas scraper and found it didn’t work as well as this scraper. If you get a chance to pick up one of these scrapers I know you will love what it can do.