Bubinga – Sand or Scrape?

Having worked a fair amount of bubinga, I can tell you it scrapes much easier than it sands.

Bubinga works quite well with both hand and power tools, but it is hard, using good sharp tools is a must, it sands to a very smooth surface, but not easily – I much prefer scraping.

On these chairs, where we have a fair amount of hand shaping, good scrapers and spoke shaves make all the difference. Because I seem to be doing more and more chairs, especially rockers, and some upcoming projects that will require a lot of shaping, I’ve been working with some power carving. It’s pretty sweet, especially in woods that don’t carve easily.

When spoke shaving or scraping, same as carving, you want to create a “wet” look so you must go with the grain and your tools have to be sharp, carving across the grain which is often the case, it has to be done carefully and again, very, very sharp tools.

In the case of our chairs, we use the router to semi round the post, in my chair, we go from an oblong into a round at the top and foot so the spoke shave is used to blend everything together. Like the chair rungs, turning chair runs is not easy at all, so using a 1/4 or 3/8 radius router bit to remove the corners makes for a much faster and more accurate rung, then a good scraping to bring it to a full round is pretty simple work. Through the years I’ve tried all sorts of methods to make the rungs. I have a SCMI duplicator lathe that uses a bearing guide, we can roll some rungs through it. I also have a Vega duplicator for my other lathe. Now I know that a lot of you don’t have these things but I didn’t either when I started making these chairs, the router bit, scraper/spoke shave are the ticket.

I recently got the WoodRiver Scraper set to try on these chairs and if you enjoy using scrapers, this is nice. It yields a super slick surface, beats grinding my own and if you are into stripping and re-finishing, especially chairs, it will be a life saver.

While I haven’t had to do any filling as of yet, I forced a gouge in a scrap and tried the Timbermate Brazilian Cherry. It was dead on for the bubinga color.

Here is a shot of the backs all assembled. Now the fronts and then final assembly, front to back and scoop some seats, I hope to do a video when we get to that part ’cause we think it’s really neat.

Sometimes I get chastised that I do too much too fast. Remember guys, this is how I eat, in addition to the chairs and getting the seed press going, I delivered 12 walnut bases for the NASA awards over the weekend.

When you see multi-routers, lathe duplicators and such in my shop, remember, we didn’t always have these and you won’t see me use them in videos, we try to stick with the things you would find in an average woodworking shop.

Back to the spoke shave and scrapers, wrapping these chairs up for early next week pick up by the client.


Here’s a photo of the chair as a rocker and some interesting chairs I made a while back for a client.

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3 Responses to Bubinga – Sand or Scrape?

  1. teenagewoodworker says:

    very nice. ive noticed to that alot of the exotic woods scrape very well. especially with the crazy grain in a lot of them scraping is often the way to go

  2. Jim Crockett says:

    You can get a free trial sample of TimberMate at their website. The one I received is Pine/Maple/Beech and I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Their website claims that their product can also be used for grain filling – anyone tried that?


  3. Tea Dress : says:

    we have collection of power tools at home coz my dad loves to collect and buy power tools .

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