How good is the Veritas Cabinet Scraper? Great build quality and ergonomic, capable of producing fine shavings like a smoothing plane.
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How good is the Veritas Cabinet Scraper? And how does it compare to the classic Stanly No 80 design? I’ve tested it and will share my experiences here.
I’ve owned a cabinet scraper (a Stanley imitation) for a while now, but never really used it much. The sole was too bent to flatten, and the blade was of low quality. I only used it for really rough work like removing glue. For fine work I used a normal card scraper.
But on a cabinet I was building I had to deal with a lot of reversing grain in solid birch. Even on my finest smoothing plane I was getting a bit of tearout. So I decided it was time to get a proper tool for the job – the Veritas Cabinet Scraper.
Continue reading to find out my experiences.
The build quality of the Veritas cabinet scraper is exactly how you would expect it to be from a Veritas product. The cast iron is detailed, the sole is smooth, the black paint finish immaculate. Of course, the looks aren’t essential for a tool, but I like that there are still companies out there with such an eye for detail.
For all its problems, I found my old Stanley No 80 style cabinet scraper very comfortable to hold and push. No reason to change a winning formula, right?
But Veritas has chosen to make some changes to the shape of the body. It has a wider sole that makes it more stable, and the angle of the handles and the way you put your hands on them are supposed to make the force more aligned with the cutting action.
It’s hard to tell how much of an improvement this is, but I did found the Veritas more stable than the Stanley-shape cabinet scraper. The shape of the handles was very comfortable to use on both the Stanley and Veritas, so I see no improvement there, but also no regression.
All in all, I find it a very comfortable tool to use. With a freshly burnished blade you feel like you could continue scraping all day. It feels more comfortable from the start than some planes, where you really need to get a feel for the optimal way to hold them.
Compared to the old Stanley No 80 cabinet scrapers, Veritas has added a thicker blade. This has several benefits.
When sharpening it’s easier to find the accurate 45 degree bevel. In general, the shorter the bevel, the harder it is to maintain it during (freehand) sharpening.
It also reduces vibrations, making the scraper more stable and less likely to chatter across the surface. With my cheap Stanley imitation scraper this was an issue that occurred regularly, leaving small cut marks in a row.
You can use the Veritas Cabinet Scraper the way most people think cabinet scrapers are used: as a rough tool for removing glue and finish.
But what really sets the Veritas apart is how great it is at fine work. By honing the blade to a higher grit before burnishing it, you can take much finer shavings. It is important to finely adjust the depth of cut here, as the thinner the shaving you take, the smoother the surface. This effect is much more pronounced than with a smoothing plane.
Above you can see an example of me scraping birch. The blade was a bit dull at this time, and the depth of cut could be finer. But even in this case the shavings are really nice, and the surface already smooth. By finetuning the blade, the results you can achieve are really impressive.
Sharpening a cabinet scraper blade is different from a plane blade. If you want to know how to do it right, check out this excellent video by James Wright. I got great results following his methods.
I would say that the resulting smoothness of the wood is somewhere between sandpaper and smoothing planes, with it being closer to planes.
A well setup smoothing plane that has just been honed results in a glass-like finish, which is hard to achieve with a cabinet scraper. But it comes quite close, and really leaves the wood completely ready to be finished.
Given that the cabinet scraper doesn’t tearout even on extremely difficult and reversing grain, it’s a perfect complement to the smoothing plane for those looking to get a perfect finish on solid wood.
I’m very pleased with the Veritas cabinet scraper – it’s a huge improvement over my previous cabinet scraper.
The build quality is excellent, as you can expect from a maker with this reputation, and the scraper’s body is very ergonomic and the finish has a nice tactile feel.
With a sharp blade, the finish you can get with this tool is close to that of a smoothing plane. This makes it my go to solution whenever I get difficult, reversing grain wood that tears out with my regular planes. Now I can get a glass finish on any board, no matter the hardness or grain direction.
So, the Veritas Cabinet Scraper is excellent, does that mean everyone should get it? It really depends on your use case and budget.
Cabinet scrapers work well only on hardwoods. If you work mostly with pine, even a high end cabinet scraper will only produce dust, not clean shavings. Also, if you’re on a budget, you might be able to find a used Stanley or Record cabinet scraper. By upgrading the blade to the Veritas one, you can get almost the same results as the Veritas version.
Find the Veritas model too expensive? This Faithful cabinet scraper is a great cheap alternative. It does have one big flaw: the blade is wrong and needs replacing or regrinding. But if you replace it with a Veritas blade, you’ll have a scraper that might not look as nice as the Veritas, but will work just as well.
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