Chris Schwarz's Blog

File a Scraper with the ‘Universal Sharpener’

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In the next issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine I review the Chestnut Tools Universal Sharpener from Lee Valley Tools. I learned about this remarkable and inexpensive little tool from furniture maker Freddy Roman. I was skeptical about it until I got my hands on it.

This thing is … well you’ll have to wait for the full review in the magazine.

One of the best things it does in my shop is to refile the edge of a worn card scraper to perfectly square, clean and wicked sharp – ready for a little stoning and a burnisher. Removing traditional file marks with your stones can be tedious. The surface this tool leaves is remarkable.

Universal Sharpener from Christopher Schwarz on Vimeo.

I prepared this short video that shows how I file scraper edges with the assistance of my face vise. Note that I’m holding the scraper so it’s about 85° from the edge of the Universal Sharpener. The exact angle isn’t important, but when you feel the carbide edge bite the scraper and remove steel shavings without a lot of effort, that’s the sweet spot.

The shape of the Universal Sharpener isn’t ideal for turning the burr on a scraper (in my experience, at least), so you’ll still need a burnisher to finish the sharpening job.

The Universal Sharpener includes instructions for sharpening all kinds of tools. It’s earned a permanent place in my tool chest – right next to my burnisher.

— Christopher Schwarz

4 thoughts on “File a Scraper with the ‘Universal Sharpener’

  1. Mark

    With great care to keep the sharpening carbide steel vertical/square can it be sharpened using diamond stones or does it need to be replaced when it is no longer sharp?

  2. Larry Jackson

    Couldn’t wait for the article to drive this tool out of stock, so I ordered and just received it. I had given up on two pair of “unsharpenable” scissors years ago. After 10-15 seconds using the universal, I can now shave my face with them. Thanks for the heads up, Chris!

  3. handtoolfool

    I’ll be interested in reading that article. I’m not clear on how this device replaces a file in the scraper honing process. It seems that it just adds another tool/step to the process.

    Looking at the tool itself it looks like it uses a carbide piece that functions much like the card scraper it is designed to hone. I already have the Benchcrafted carbide scraper. Could it be used the same way?

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