A good quality machine-cut rasp or two should be in every serious woodworker’s tool box. Rasps come into play when a small amount of material needs to be removed, either on a flat or curved surface. It wasn’t that long ago that you could walk into your local hardware store and ask for a Nicholson #49 and #50 and walk out with tools that would do the job, and last the rest of your life.
Nicholson still produces tools that bear those numbers, but when home centers moved in, production moved overseas and quality was lost in the transition. Hand-cut rasps became better known, but they come at a higher price.
Swiss file manufacturer Grobet has long been an alternative to Nicholson, and Lee Valley now carries two versions of Grobet half-round rasps. These are comparable to early Nicholsons, and fill the gap between bargain-basement rasps and hand-cut tools.
There are two cuts available; Lee Valley calls them “medium” and “fine” instead of the earlier terms “bastard” and “second cut.”
There isn’t a tremendous amount of difference between the two, and if you are new to rasps, get just one and see how you like it. These are tools for intermediate work; they will remove band saw marks in a hurry, but the surface will still need to be further refined with a scraper or sandpaper. If you need to tweak the fit of a tenon or other joint, a good rasp will get you there.
The teeth in these tools are machine cut in rows, and the rows are offset so as not to cut deep furrows. They are sharp, uniform and offer a nice balance between rapid material removal and surface quality. The Grobets aren’t quite as nice as hand-cut rasps, but they do the job and should last a long time.
Web site: Grobet rasps are available from Lee Valley Tools.
Blog: Read about refining curves with a rasp and scraper.
From the June 2014 issue, #211