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What Exactly is Hand-Scraped Hardwood?

Wood has been the building material of choice for artisans for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. It was used as far back as the earliest civilizations; however, sandpaper has only existed since being invented in the 1920s. So, how did artisans smooth wood and reduce splinters before the invention of sandpaper? They had a few methods. One of the most effective was hand scraping.

Hand Scraping

Hand scraping involves using a draw knife to scrape the surface. A draw knife is a knife with a handle on either side of the blade and the blade at a perpendicular angle to the handles. The artisan will place the blade on the surface and drag it back towards themselves. It removes a thin top layer from the wood to smooth it. This is how wood was smoothed for a long time.

Another similar method involves planning the surface. That involves using a knife with a very shallow angle and pushing it along the surface of the wood. This shaves the surface of the wood until the wood is smooth. A hand scraped or planed wooden surface does not look the same as wood that has been sanded. There are inconsistencies to the wood. Each stroke of the knife is different in length and depth, creating a very unique look.

Hand Scraped Floors

If you want to mimic the look of a hand scraped floor from the distant past, you can do that in two basic ways. There are machine scraped floors which are designed to look hand scraped even though they’re made by machines. They’re quicker to install and easier to find. They also tend to cost less money. Many companies sell a hand scraped variety of some common hardwoods.

However, if you want to be authentic, you should choose a hardwood actually scraped by hand. To do that, you’ll need to hire a crafter with experience scraping wood. They’ll likely install the hardwood planks and then scrape them on site.

Scraping them by hand offers you a few advantages. You can talk with the crafter to tell them how you would like it to look. It can be a subtle scraping that just adds a little bit of texture, or it can be very dramatic. Also, it will make your floor look completely unique and custom. Even if that crafter scrapes another floor, it’s impossible for them to do it the same way twice.

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