What did woodworkers use before sandpaper?

Q&A Woodworking Forum IndexCategory: WoodworkingWhat did woodworkers use before sandpaper?
Westfarthing Woodworks asked 5 months ago

Was there something that woodworkers used before sandpaper? Was it better than using sandpaper like we do today?

1 Answers
Brian answered 5 months ago

Long before sandpaper, there was a tool called the cabinet scraper or card scraper. This is a thin piece of flexible metal that comes in a number of shapes, though the rectangle is the most common.

The cabinet scraper is about a millimeter thick or a little less, and you draw out a burr on the end that acts like a very sharp cutter. You then push or pull the card along the surface of the wood, and that cutter removes material.

There’s a little bit of a trick involved in burnishing the edge in order to make it cut wood, but you can just buy a nice burnisher yourself and you won’t have to worry about it.

Once you can put an edge on your card, you use it to smooth the surface of the wood until it starts to lose its bite, and then you just burnish the edge again.

The other nice thing about a cabinet scraper is that you don’t have to change grits like you do with sandpaper. The tool cuts instead of grinds, so it creates a very smooth surface immediately.

Happy building.

See Also: 13 Great Tips for Using a Wood Scraper

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