Handy Tools – Scratch Stock

Scratch stock with a simple profile

Not quite a project, but definitely a handy tool. While making the box for the 2018 box swap, I decided I needed to add a little ornamentation, so I built a scratch stock to put a bead along the edge of some of the pieces. Because there were concave curves to follow, I needed to make the end rounded (I used a ½” radius to match the curved pieces I'd made). Then I cut the wood in half, stuck in a piece of steel filed to a profile I liked, and screwed the wood back together.

Here's a test piece I did in some walnut to see if I could follow a curve and to get a little practice before starting to use it for real.

The bead produced by the scratch stock, in a piece of scrap walnut

I can pull out the blade and make at least three more profiles on this one piece of tool steel, and I can adjust it in and out, depending on what I need. Turns out to be a darned handy tool.

To use it, you just push or pull it along the edge of a piece of wood, letting the end of the metal take off a thin shaving of wood with each pass. You sharpen it by simply filing the edge square. Very simple, but a lot quicker and quieter than ordering a new router bit, waiting for it to arrive, and then setting up the router, the dust collector, and routing a profile in an edge. I'll do that too, but there are days when the scratch stock comes out and I'll spend some time making a new profile that previously only existed in my brain.


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