Chris Schwarz's Blog

Cheap Thrills: The No. 80 Cabinet Scraper

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
counts.

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.

13 thoughts on “Cheap Thrills: The No. 80 Cabinet Scraper

  1. Danny Hellyar

    Chris,
    Thanks for the great article on scraper planes and awakening us all to a tool we should all have been using long ago. Problem is since posting this article, it’s hard to purchase one of these older mint condition No 80 planes on e-bay for anything less than $50.00. See what you started! Next time before you publish these type’s of articles could you just please email them to me so I can get a head start on everyone. It’s actually less expensive to just purchase a new one. For everyone’s information, Highland Woodworking sells them for about $40.00, and the Kunz equivalent for around $37.00. Couldn’t find them at Rockler , but Woodcraft sells their Woodriver version of the No. 80 for $30.00. Can’t wait to get my hands on one!

  2. Ed Minch

    The guy with the 12-3/4 should know that the tool is worth many thousands of dollars – depending on condition. He could trade it for a complete set of working hand tools including a 12-1/2 which is the same tool with a smaller mouth.

    Ed Minch

  3. Bill

    Even I can use the No. 80, so it must work well and easily.

    As far as this:

    "If I kill someone at Kunz using this scraper plane, will a jury convict me?"

    Not in good conscience, no.

  4. Steve Wuest

    Chris wrote something that resonated with me. "The more you polish the edge, the longer it will last." I didn’t get the tool working well until I polished the edge well and then put a hook on it.

    Also, I discovered this nugget a few weeks ago. "Put the tool flat on your bench. Drop the blade in so it rests on your benchtop."

    These two made the tool sing

  5. Paul Skarstad

    Chris,
    Thank you for this piece about the Stanley #80. About 40 years ago I asked my father-in-law how he had produced the acres of silky-smooth surface on the furniture he built. He opened a drawer in his shop and handed me his Stanley #80. I learned what he used, but failed to ask again how he did it, much to my later regret. I missed an opportunity to learn from the master. For the past 20 years that tool has sat in a seldom-visited corner of my shop.

    After reading your piece today, I dug it out. The blade is almost gone, sort of trapezoidal in shape, but still with one sharp edge and a nice burr. So I set it up as you prescribed and applied it to an ornery piece of maple that had been baffling me all week. The results are amazing. I have a new tool to use. Thank you so much.

  6. Jonas Jensen

    I have a 12 3/4, and a no 80. And I agree with Chris that the No 80 is much easier to use (and better).
    I work a lot with elm, and a no 80 can really do a good job there.
    Brgds

  7. Ron

    I bought mine about 30 years ago and have used the blade inside the 80# frame maybe five times. Preferred freehanding the blade even if I burned my fingers from time to time.

  8. Steve

    When I first got my Veritas version of the #80 a few years ago, I was surprised at how easy it was to use, and how well it worked. It’s so much easier than a scraper plane, I’m puzzled as to why scraper planes even exist anymore.

  9. Greg

    WARNING!
    If you go ahead and sharpen the reserve edge of the blade as Chris suggests, be sure to cover it with some painter’s tape or something similar. It’s perfectly positioned to cause a surprisingly severe injury. Don’t ask how I know this …

    Greg.

  10. dave rodgers

    Thanks for the clarification about the way the blade faces and the bevel angle. I could not figure it out. I picked up mine at an antique store and bought a new blade, but could not get it operating to my satisfaction. I’m inspired to try again.

  11. Rob Bois

    This reminds me a lot of my Brian Boggs Spokeshave. I just drop the iron in so it rests flat against my bench top, and it automatically takes nice shavings. No fiddling around like my other shaves. There is something to be said about simplicity. Now to go find a #80 (I saw Chris’ presentation on scraper planes at Woodworking in America and saw first hand how simple and easy the #80 is).

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