Archive for October, 2008

Microplane Rasps

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It’s not every tool purchase that starts with cheese, but that’s what happened here. My sister was so enthused by her Microplane cheese graters that she wondered if other Microplane tools were as spectacular. On Christmas day, I opened a mysterious package containing several Microplane wood rasps. You might note, however, that these don’t look much like any other rasp you’ve ever seen, so there was an awkward moment of trying to determine why my sister thought I needed several sizes of really beefy cheese graters.

Once I worked it out, I was quite pleased, but also a little stumped. What would I do with a couple of funny looking rasps? I’m really more of a power tool sort of guy. If a corner or edge needs to be rounded, I look for a router bit, not a rasp or a plane. Thus, the Microplane rasps came home with me and hung on my pegboard for several months and collected dust.

Fast forward a few months and I was experimenting with some crown molding. Coping crown molding is something that has haunted me a bit for several years. Sure, the experts make it look easy, but remember I’m not much of a hand tool guy. Rest assured that a full report on my crown molding exploits is forthcoming, but for now let’s just say that the first few attempts did not go well. I did my best with a miter saw and coping saw, but my early efforts never actually fit.

In a moment of particular despair, I looked heavenward and right at the Microplanes hanging on the pegboard. Hmm. Until this time, I had never actually improved anything with a hand tool, but I was really getting desperate. I grabbed the big round Microplane and started shaving away the back of the molding that was interfering with my fit.

First, I was shocked at how quickly and cleanly the Microplanes cut. My previous adventures with rasps were with ancient, rusty, handed-down monsters that sort of abused the workpiece until it gave up. These are entirely different tools, quickly and easily removing material with very little force.

Next, and much more startling, I had a perfect-fitting coped crown molding cut in maybe five minutes. I finally made something better with a hand tool! As I practiced more, I got even better. I used the large round rasp to remove the bulk of interfering material and then cleaned out nooks and crannies with the small round and small square rasp.

These are affordable and extremely effective rasps. If you’re new to woodworking and looking for a confidence-boosting hand tool experience, look no further. If your some sort of wizard, I can only imagine what you might do with such a tool. Actually, let me know!

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