Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Questions about tools and jigs you want to buy/build/modify.
Matthew Lau
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Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Matthew Lau »

Dear MIMF,

I'm thinking of buying some rasps.
While I have some tools that will do most jobs, I don't have any rasps.
While I've been using a drawknife and spokeshave, tearout can be heartbreaking.

In addition to Auriou, Herdim, Dick and Grammercy, I've been looking very closely at the Pechar and Liogier rasps. The Liogier are appealing because Nick Liogier appears to really care about his staff and the legacy of his work...the saphire line is also getting rave reviews. The Pechar are less expensive, but are very highly regarded by some violin makers.

Any thoughts?

-Matt

Michael Jennings
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Michael Jennings »

I bought a set of Liogier's [ plus his flat "luthier's rasp] last fall. They are really great quality tools and I can't figure out why I waited so long to invest in good quality rasps. The wait was about a month for order completion and delivery... Well Worth The Wait [and Money]. And you're right about Nick... he cares for his customers as well. I like the idea of buying from a traditional "family" craftsman.
As a "Southpaw" the other consideration I had was his offering of a left-handed stitch [that may be why mine took a month to complete and ship]. I've used hardware store and slightly better rasps for decades, but never considered what a difference having a rasp stitched for "my stroke" would make.

Mike J

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

I have only used the commercial machine cut rasps, but have found them to leave a fairly rough surface. After using a spoke shave I will use a laminate file with an aggressive cut on one side, a finer cut on the other, and a safe edge to avoid filing places I don't want to. Apparently I'm not the only one:

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techn ... you-needed

Aside from my propensity for being a cheapskate (these files are usually around $10) I like this tool because it removes a fair amount of wood, but leaves a reasonably smooth sandable surface.

Mario Proulx
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Mario Proulx »

I've carved roughly 200 necks in the last 20 years(yup, it was 20 years ago that I decided to try to build a mandolin... Time flies!) and I still use just the same two Sandvik rasps I had then. One has a soft rounded rasp shape on one surface and a flat double-cut file on the opposite surface, and the other is a flat rasp and finer file. Combined with a half round "bastard cut" file and a cabinet scraper, these are all I need to carve a neck and take it to a 220 grit ready surface. All were hardware store items and very economical.

A friend has a mega-dollar Auriou rasp that is wickedly sharp and impressive, as well as aggressive, but I found it actually more tiring to use when I tried it because its aggressiveness also requires more strength from the user, and therefor wasn't any faster since it wore me out and I had to take breaks. All told, I can rough out(IE: take it to the point where I need to slow down and begin checking the shape with templates) a guitar neck in about 15 minutes with the above tools.

If you're into fine tools because you like fine tools, that's great, but if you just want tools that will do the job.... Unless you're a lefty, of course, because off the shelf rasps and files -are- designed for right handed use. Also, the secret to getting a long service life from rasps and files is to lift them on the pull stroke. In the least, do NOT apply pressure on the pull stroke. That is how most newbie rasp and file users kill their tools.

Michael Jennings
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Michael Jennings »

I agree with everything Mario has to say especially regarding lefties. When I first started using the Liogiers my first thought was "get thee back to the gym for some weight training". However over a short period of time I found that if I lightened up my pressure.. significantly... the rasp cut better, was more controllable, left a better surface [especially with the course stitch], AND Still removed material much faster than any other hand tool I was familiar with.
My Gran'da, Charlie, was constantly chiding me... "Mike, a man's supposed to be smarter than his tools".... let the tool do the work.

Simon Magennis
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Simon Magennis »

Never knew there was such a thing as a left handed rasp. Must look into that.

The fastest way I ever saw of hand shaping a neck (actually it was for a lute - so very wide) was with a scrub plane. Very easy to overshoot if you are not careful but it takes wood away very quickly. Follow up with rasps/files and sandpaper.

Adam Savage
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Location: Sunny Alloa, Scotland

Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Adam Savage »

I have an Auriou large cabinet (medium-fine) rasp and a couple of Liogiers. Both work well, though I felt the Auriou left a finer finish. However, I didn't have a like-for-like shape/size/grain comparison, so there may be other factors t work.
Having said that, I can only echo what earlier folk have said about Noel's customer support/communication which is fabulous.
Adam

Ed Gerber
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Ed Gerber »

You might want to consider the Shinto rasp - the one made out of fine and coarse hacksaw blades. I have been using one exclusively for shaping necks and find that it cuts fast and accurately, but it's not the greatest in tight spots. I clean up with scrapers after the heavy work.

Ed

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Mark Swanson »

Does anyone use the Dragon Rasps sold by Stewart-MacDonald? I like mine.
  • Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff

Ron Belanger
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Ron Belanger »

I use the Dragon Rasps and I like them as well.

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

I have an Auriou, and its all good, but...
My go-to rasp is a Nicholson #49. It cuts much faster than the Auriou, and leaves a surface that is almost as clean. I mean, who expects to not clean up a surface that you just hit with a rasp?
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

Matthew Lau
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Matthew Lau »

I have a shinto rasp, and I like it a lot.

It's just hard for me to get to transitional areas: heel, headstock.
Regarding the Nicholson 49 and 50, the old USA Nicholson's were supposedly great.
The new Brazilian Nicholson's--not so much so.

I guess that I'm trying to figure out things before plunging (to me) a lot of $$$ into new tools.

Mario Proulx
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Mario Proulx »

For the transitional areas I turn to the half round file. If you don't already, try "rolling" the file as you move it forward and sideways. The more planes you move the tool in, the smoother the transition.

If unsure of what I'm suggesting, make up a few blocks of wood of similar carving characteristics and practice your carving skills.

Arnt Rian
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Arnt Rian »

I started with a couple of Sandvik rasps and files, because that's what I found at the hardware store. Then got a Nicholson 49 and 50 about 10 years ago, because everyone said they were better (and they are, IMO). Later, I got some handmade Chinese rasps from Dictum, probably the same as the Dragon rasps, which are nice, but a lot less agressive. I also got a pair of Arious, which are lovely, but not as useful as the Nicholsons. My favourite is still the 49, in combination with the old half-round Sandvik file, before sandpaper etc.

I hear the new Nicholsons are not as nice, but you can get them sharpened and "upgraded" to better than new condition. I believe I read it here...(?)

Found a couple of older picures to illustrate

Here's the surface after the 49...
18-20.jpg
...then, after a few strokes with the Sandvik file
18-25.jpg
The Chinese rasp (same as Dragon?) leaves a finer surface than the Nicholosn, as I said. Even if I don't use it that much, sometimes that can be just the right thing
12-6.jpg

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John Kingma
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by John Kingma »

My most used and favorite rasp is this one from Lee Valley (on the right in the pic). It was about 25 bucks and works better than other rasps I have that cost almost twice that.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/images/item ... 606s1b.jpg
John Kingma,
Builder of Fine Sawdust & Expensive Kindling

Matthew Lau
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Matthew Lau »

I paid a visit to Michihiro Matsuda, and he echoed the advice of the majority here.
He pulled out some files, violin knives from Japan, small planes, and dragon rasps (he got for free).
Finally, he pointed out some Grobet half-round files and commented that they're expensive--about $30-40 each. He said that's all he needed.

On the other hand, Randall Angella was insistent that one gets very best tool they can find for the job. He's interested in the french rasps.

I'll probably look into the cheaper stuff (nickolsen rasps. Blondell from Lee Valley) as I'm just a rank amateur at this point. ;D

Thanks for the suggestions!

Mario Proulx
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Mario Proulx »

was insistent that one gets very best tool they can find for the job

I agree with him!

But you need to understand that the very best tool for the job may not be the most expensive one, as many of us have noted here.

Trust me, I have a bad shoulder, and carving necks puts me in a hurting kind of way, so if a more expensive/aggressive rasp were better, I'd buy it. But even trying to use them as light as possible, they required more effort, and all told, slowed me down! I've tried the snazzy new Japanese files that cut like crazy, but they load-up when used in our nice mahogany. Draw knives need to be uber-sharp and fine tuned to the nth-degree to work well, and can still randomly cause a tearout. CNC is out of my league. So the very best tools for the job, for me, are the ones I listed.

Most cars run better on the lower cost regular gasoline, too....

Michael Lewis
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Michael Lewis »

Matthew, if you learn well how to use the rasps and files they will last much longer than if you "just go at it". Cutting tools are directional and cut only in one direction, they do not cut on the return stroke (abrasives excepted). Wishing you well in your quest.

Tom West
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by Tom West »

Dragon rasps from Stew-Mac. I find them to be excellent tools.
Tom
A person who has never made a mistake has never made anything!!!

David King
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Re: Thinking of buying some rasps. Any input?

Post by David King »

I can recommend the USA made Nicholson #49s that get pre-sharpened by Boggs tool. They cost about $53 delivered. Boggs can also resharpen your older rasps using their unique abrasive slurry. The results are amazing. Call them at 800-547-5244, they are located in Paramount, CA

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