How do you use your card scraper?

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Mr T

Established Member
25 Feb 2008
Reaction score
Ilkley, West Yorkshire
I recently replaced some missing card scrapers in my student benches with new ones from Bahco. I noticed on the instructions on the packaging, as shown in the attached image(I won't go into the holding technique shown!), that they specifically say that the srcaper should be used with a pulling motion not pushed away from you . This is completely contrary to the technique I have taught for the past 30 years. I would be intrigued to know how others use their scrapers, have I been wrong all these years?


  • IMG_1122.JPG
    54.1 KB · Views: 208
I noticed that when I got a Bahco scraper. It seems odd to me. Like you, I typically push a scraper, at least when I really need to flex the scraper. I have used a card with a pulling motion but it is rarely my first choice.
On flat surfaces I almost always push.

For the curves on ukulele or guitar neck, push or pull as is most convenient (this can be dictated by grain direction and ease of clamping the shaped workpiece).
You are stronger pulling than pushing, I agree that it would be more strain on the fingers.

Pete, a pusher!
When pulling for curves, I pull with one hand either side - the scraper arcs away from me but still cuts well.
I'm pretty sure I do both. Especially if it's on an edge, rather than a broad surface.
Probably 95% of the time I push. Fiddly curved shapes and other odd occasions, such as final levelling of a lipping or fore-edge to a field of, for example, veneer, the other 5%, may involve pulling. Slainte.
It depends.On the grain run,the access to the piece and where I'm standing.I think you need to be able to both push and pull and wouldn't condemn either.
I would mostly push but do sometimes reverse things. That said they are murder on the fingers so I got myself a stanley 80 a few years back.
The general concensus seems to be push, which is a relief! I always push on flat surfaces but would occasionally pull on light cuts on curves and corners. I don't think you can get a decent cut pulling, when pushing your thumbs press the edge down onto the work so you can take shavings, when pulling on a flat surface you tend to take just dust because it's difficult to flex and apply pressure. Also I like to have the backs of my knuckles rubbing on the surface so I can control the cut.

I don't know where Bahco are coming from with their instructions.

I've always used the push method which has worked well but will try the pull stroke next time I'm using the card scraper.

With card scrapers I do a bit of both, but at a guess I push a good 98% of the time on flat surfaces.

I also do a lot of my scraping with unconventional scrapers – kitchen knife, Stanley knife blades mounted in small wooden blocks – and with these I pull nearly as much as I push as both types work about equally in either direction without any undue pressure on the fingers.

Pulling as well as pushing card scrapers has probably always been done, and mentions in print go back a bit. I thought I remembered something from a 19th-century handbook but couldn't locate it last night when I went to look. Here's the earliest mention I did find:

In use... the scraper may be either pushed or pulled. When pushed, the scraper is held firmly in both hands, the fingers on the forward and the thumbs on the back side. It is tilted forward, away from the operator, far enough so that it will not chatter and is bowed back slightly, by pressure of the thumbs, so that there is no risk of the corners digging in. When pulled the position is reversed.
"Handwork in Wood", Noyes, 1910.

Latest posts