Visit any violin making forum on the ‘net and you can find an endless debate on the subject of scrapers: what they should be made of, what shape is best, whether or not to bevel the cutting edge, and on and on. The beginner is overwhelmed by popular and expert opinion.

You can buy sets of “violin” scrapers ready made if you have more money than time. Or you can make your own out of various materials ranging from old saw blades to planer blades to broken sword blades if you want to be really “authentic” with your methods. Not having ready access to a grinder or other tools for shaping metal, I was in a quandary as to what method would work best for this cheap scotch frugal project.

After perusing many online forums and websites, I hit upon the perfect solution –

I wish I’d saved the link to the discussion about using shim stock for scrapers, but it’s lost. This stuff is ideal for many reasons: it’s thin enough to be cut with tin snips, it’s cheap, it’s easy to shape and sharpen, and it’s flexible enough to bend and shape to any curve while in use. I bought two sheets 6″ x 24″ here for less than the cost of one set of commercial scrapers and I don’t anticipate ever having to buy more in my lifetime šŸ™‚

The next question is what shape works best for violin scrapers? The picture below shows Stradivari’s scrapers in a museum in Cremona as photographed by Kevin Lee

Discussion on various boards led to the conclusion that the longest scraper is about 5″ long and 1 1/2″ wide. A Google search for “Stradivari’s Scrapers” led me to a blog about tools and their uses and this picture –

Seemed simple enough in theory and it was quite simple in fact, too. So far I’ve only needed two – cut with tin snips into rough shape –

File the edges round and smooth, and they’re ready to go. I didn’t fall into the endless debate about whether or not to burnish the edges and/or whether or not to shape the cutting edge into a 15/30/45 degree angle. A flat edge seems to be working just fine for me without analyzing the process too closely.

What do you use for scrapers for fine work like fiddle tops?

ETA – Here’s a discussion over at The Violin Forum about scrapers and what some builders make them out of.