Tool time!

This segment NOT sponsored by Binford Tools.

Instead, a note on rasps.  While making the cutting board, and in several of the projects ahead, a rasp is pretty well essential to construction.  I’ve used several over the years, from a repurposed farrier’s rasp to a Nicholson 49 (which was long considered the “standard” cabinetmaker’s rasp, until Nicholson followed the trail of so many American companies, and  detrimentally outsourced production to China and Mexico), and I find the best rasps are the hand-stitched ones.  Not only do they cut faster, but the also cut more smoothly.

Instead of a machine feeding steel along and punching teeth into a billet, a hand stitched rasp is made one at a time.  All those teeth are punched individually by a craftsman.  It’s a fascinating thing to watch.  Incidentally, the hammer he uses is a ‘filemaker’s hammer’, also known as a ‘dog’s head hammer’.  Not too much call for them anymore.

A company called Liogier in France is the one that makes the rasps I use.  There are a few distributors in the US, including TBT tools, where I bought mine.  I currently own three, and they cover just about all of my rasping needs.


From the top, a 12″ 6 grain, a 10″ 13 grain, and a 6″ 14 grain.  Like sandpaper, the higher the number, the finer the cut.  Also, even if the grain number is the same, a smaller rasp will deliver a finer cut.

The middle rasp is my favourite.  I use it probably 90% of the time.  It’s fine enough to leave a good surface behind, but big enough to do it in a reasonable timeframe.  The little rasp I hardly ever use, but for detailed work it can’t be beat.  It leaves a very fine surface behind.  The big rasp can be just monstrous.  It hogs off wood in a heartbeat, spraying chips (not dust!) behind it.  I use it if I have a lot of roughing work to do, especially if I can’t get a jack plane in the area.  Remember how we beveled off the edges of the cutting board before we rounded them?  For a gunstock (big, short bevels), this is the tool to do it with.

Forget the blister packed rasp at the big box store (works on PVC!), get something that is a treasure to use.