by Christopher Cunningham
A card scraper, held by hand, works well for small jobs and fine work, but it is hard on the thumbs, tiring in the long haul, and can get quite hot. My English-made Stanley #80 cabinet scraper does the work of holding its blade at the right angle and bending it, so it’s an easier tool to use. I’ve had mine for decades, and it’s my tool of choice for the rough work of scraping newly epoxied joints and for finishing surfaces where the grain in a board or between boards is oriented in different directions. The #80, introduced in 1898, was produced in numerous versions; Veritas makes many of their own versions of workshop standards, including the #80, so I was curious to see what they did to improve upon it.
The first thing I noticed was the weight. The Stanley weighs 22 oz, the Veritas 32.4 oz. The Veritas casting is thicker and the contours are a better fit for the hands. The tops of the handles feel good in the palms and the recesses underneath the Veritas handles, not so deep and wide as they are on the Stanley, are more comfortable for the fingers. More significant are the coves for the thumbs. In the Stanley, they’re not contoured to fit and the glossy finish is quite slick, so I have to grip the tool tightly. The Veritas’ matte finish and textured surfaces aren’t at all slippery, and the contours keep my thumbs in place so I can use a more relaxed grip.
The Veritas blade is made of harder steel than the Stanley’s. I’ve been doing quick sharpening of the Stanley blade with a file, but that same file slides across the Veritas steel without digging in. That harder steel is better worked with sharpening stones and holds an edge longer.
The body of the Veritas is taller than the Stanley’s and its blade shorter, so the cutting edge, when not in use, doesn’t extend beyond the tool. I’ve never cut myself on the exposed upper edge of the Stanley, but it does make me nervous. The corners are especially dangerous. Having the upper edge guarded on the Veritas is a good safety measure.
When I accidentally dropped the Veritas on my shop’s concrete floor I yelped, because that could have been the end of it. The cast metal in my old planes and spokeshaves won’t take sharp impacts well, and I’ve lost a few tools to my clumsiness. The Veritas did get a small dent in the edge rather than a chip, a good sign that the metal isn’t brittle.
In use, the Veritas has a solid feel and dresses wood surfaces to a smooth, even, and glossy finish. The quality of the edge I put on the blade is perhaps the most significant factor, but the Veritas’ greater mass makes it much quieter than my Stanley. All the changes Veritas made improved the feel of the tool.
Christopher Cunningham is the editor of Small Boats Monthly.
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