Over the weekend, and while taking a breather from all the exhibition work I’ve been involved with, I’ve had a chance to play with a new ‘toy’ I received last week (thanks, James) as part of the latest UKworkshop Passaround; courtesy of Workshop Heaven.
The ARNO Carbur 2 Solid Carbide Burnisher
It’s the ARNO Carbur 2 Burnisher; designed to save time and make life easier for those of us who struggle to correctly form a hook and sharpen a card or cabinet scraper.
Made in France, this isn’t a brand-new tool to the market. It’s been around for a few years and I’m sure you used to be able to buy them at Axminster as well (perhaps you still can?). Neither do I want this review to turn in to a tutorial on how to sharpen and correctly use a card scraper – that’s the kind of information that’s already available in a million and one different other places on the ‘net! However, if you’d rather see this product in live action then, I recommend you take a look at this video Matthew Platt recently produced:
After watching that video for myself, I instinctively wanted to find out how this carbide burnisher compares with the old one. For almost four-years, I’ve been using a Roberts & Lee brunisher [Yikes! I’m sure they were cheaper than that!!] and that’s suited me fine. I was taught to use the shank of an old, flat-headed screwdriver (!!) so, it wasn’t nice to have something that didn’t scratch and where the scraper’s edge wouldn’t cut a load of grooves easily. Sometimes I’ll end up with three good edges and one where the hook isn’t as strong but, that’s down to my technique, more so than anything else.
First up, I took one of my Veritas scrapers and sharpened it with my old faithful:
For the ‘Passaround‘, Matthew also provided us with one of the scrapers he sells (alebit slightly thinner than the one’s I use, at 0.6mm, I believe). So, I filed and honed the old steel away before re-forming new hooks with the ARNO Carbur 2:
What is good about this is that you can use it single-handedly. The end of the burnisher is tapered slightly so that, by holding it parallel along its length [square to the scraper’s sides], you’ll ‘automatically’ form a hook at the correct angle (somewhere between 10°-15°, I’m assuming). Finger guards and the one-handed design means you’re also less likely to suffer cuts and lacerations to your thumbs or wrists (yep, I’ve done it a few times using a conventional burnisher… One wobble and slip is all it takes!)! In the video above, Matthew simply holds the scraper in one hand, proving that these carbide inserts are so effective that you don’t necessarily ‘need’ to use a vice of any sort.
On to the acid test with a length of 1in thick English cherry and you’ll see that while the first scraper is cutting rather well…
(NB. Matthew also provided us with a pair of thumb guards to try; the idea being that they’ll save your thumbs from that familiar burning sensation.)
Matthew’s thin scraper, sharpened with the ARNO Carbur 2 burnisher, produces wider, greater shavings more akin to those fresh of edge of a bench plane:
Now, there are several variables in the ‘test‘ that I haven’t fully accounted for. Of course, one scraper is slightly thinner than the other, with could account for the variations in results, shown above. Also, when I’m forming the hook, I’m doing so without the aid of a jig which means, basically, that each angle could be at least 0.5° different from the others.
What I did find though, is that in using the ARNO Carbur 2 burnisher, I could form a strong hook in only a couple of strokes along each edge. By comparison, the Roberts & Lee tool usually requires three of four and, even then, it’s not always enough to produce anything much more than dust.
I believe it’s all in the quality of the carbide inserts:
Note the carbide inserst - one round; one triangular.
You’ll notice that one is distinctly round on the edge (that’s the one I’ve used, in this test), while the other is more of a triangular shape. Apparently, this second insert is for more serious metal removal and, should you decide to use it, you should approach it with extreme caution, as you can easily produce a hook so large that it’ll snap off almost as soon as you start scraping! If you have a lot of work to do or, perhaps, you’re working the edge of a large axe or something then, I can see where this has benefits.
When I first read about this product online and searched for information, I thought the price was initially too high. Bargains probably can be had on cheaper, maybe even old, second-hand burnishers, elsewhere. But, if you’re going for a quality brand-name (like Clifton) then, you’ll realise that the ARNO model is actually priced rather competitively. It is worth spending good money on a burnisher, whichever you decided to go for, even if it does cost more than an average pack of card scrapers. Otherwise, in buying cheap, you could end up with a lump of “cheese“…! If you’re someone who doesn’t use a scraper often enough then, I guess that’s also worth throwing in to consideration… I don’t do enough scraping myself [thanks to my belt sander!!] so, for the time being, I can’t see myself needing to upgrade just yet. If you’re new to the market though, this one’s certainly worth considering.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve found this useful.