No one told me that setting up and using a scraper plane was a pain in the butt, so I didn’t think I had done anything special when I got my Stanley No. 80 to take perfect shavings my first time out of the gate.
That was 14 years ago. Since then, I have answered hundreds of questions
from people who are in agony when it comes to their scraper planes. How
do you sharpen it? Do you round the corners? Camber the blade? Do you
use a hook? How do you set the blade in the body? If I kill someone at
Kunz using this scraper plane, will a jury convict me?
Well the reason I never had any problems setting up a scraper plane is because I
own a Stanley No. 80. I bought it for $20 at an outdoor antiques market
and had about four contestants to pick from that Sunday morning.
The following statement is important. There is a reason that No. 80s are so
common: They work like crazy. There’s a reason that Stanley 212s and
112s are hard to find – Stanley didn’t sell as many of them. Why? I
can’t say for sure because I wasn’t even a fetus back then. But my best
guess is because the No. 80 was cheaper and easier to use.
If you are having trouble with your scraper plane, I suggest you put it aside
and try a No. 80. There are so many things I like about this tool that
it’s hard to know where to start.
1. It’s comfortable and intuitive to use. You can put your thumbs right behind the scraping action.
2. Every scraper blade gives you two edges to use. If you fry an edge
while scraping a tabletop, flip the blade over and get back to work.
3. The No. 80 is big enough to produce a flat-looking surface. Yes, it has
a smaller sole, but that’s a good thing. You’ll get into hollows on
your boards a lot easier and have less work to do. And the resulting
surface looks flat when a film finish is on it. That’s all that really
4. They are easy to sharpen. The blade has two edges that
are beveled at 45°. Sharpen each edge like a plane blade. The more you
polish the edge, the longer it will last. You don’t have to round the
corners of the blade or sharpen a camber on it. Straight is fine.
5. Use a hook. Don’t be afraid of a hook. If I made a nice one on my first time, so can you. It’s easy.
6. It’s so easy to adjust. Put the tool flat on your bench. Drop the blade
in so it rests on your benchtop. Tighten the thumbscrews that lock the
blade. Gently turn the cambering thumbscrew on the back of the tool just
a tad. The screw bows the blade out. It is genius. How genius? Veritas
put the same technology on its version of the large 112 scraper plane.
This experiment will cost you about $20. And I’ll bet you anything that even
if everyone tried to buy one today, we couldn’t put a dent in the
supply of No. 80s. If you want a new one, Veritas makes a nice version
of the No. 80.
One more thing: Please don’t ask me any questions
about how to use your 12s, 12-1/2s or 81s. You won’t like my answer:
Sell it and get a No. 80.
— Christopher Schwarz
Other Scraping Information
• Can’t sharpen? We can fix that for cheap. Our book “Hand Tool Essentials” has a ton of sound information on this important gateway skill.
• Still want to use a No. 112? You need the power of David Charlesworth on your side. David has an excellent DVD on setting up this sometimes vexing tool.
• You can read my story on sharpening a card scraper for free online. Use the same method for the blade of your No. 80 and you’ll be happy.