Fitting a Scraper
Scrapers should be fitted to the person doing the scraping. Just as a precision marksman has the stock of his rifle made to fit, so must a scraper hand have a scraper the right size to suit his stature and personal scraping style. A taller man has longer arms and to hold the scraper comfortably in the proper stance for long periods, it follows that he must have a longer scraper. A shorter man would require a scraper that is shortened for the same reason.

    A general guide for sizing scrapers to operators
        5' 5" and shorter = 18" or shorter
        5' 9" to 6' 2" = 18" to 20"
        6' 2" and up = 20" or more

Even with these guidelines, it is important to remember that each person will have their own preferences about scraper size so do not be locked in to this guide as an unbreakable rule. I know scraper hands that are very tall and use the shorter scrapers quite well. Remember though, when buying or building a scraper that it is easier to cut a scraper to make it shorter than it is to stretch it to make it longer.

 

Blade Material

In the past, the only blade material was tool steel or high-speed steel. Just as high-speed steel (HSS) has largely been replaced by carbide in the machining world, carbide has also become a popular scraper blade material. High-speed steel is still popular, because for a scraper hand it can offer some advantages over carbide. Today both carbide and high-speed steel (HSS) are used as blade materials.

Choosing a Blade Type

Determining which blade material to use depends on how and where you will be scraping. The main advantage of carbide over HSS, is that it stays sharp longer, in some applications up to ten times longer. This means less time spent sharpening the blade and more time using it. The initial cost of the blade is higher, but this is more than overcome by the time-savings carbide offers. The main disadvantage of carbide is the requirement of a carbide tool grinder equipped with a quality diamond wheel for sharpening. Portable grinders do exist because carbide is nearly impossible to properly sharpen by hand, even with a diamond bench stone. Carbide also has a reputation for leaving a scratched finish, but this may be eliminated with proper selection and use of the grinding wheel used for sharpening.
The main advantage of HSS is the ease of maintenance. High-speed steel can be sharpened by hand to a very keen edge with a common bench stone. This makes the HSS blade much more portable than the carbide blade. When scraping "on the road" or in a shop without a carbide tool grinder, high-speed steel may be the only choice. The initial cost of the blades is also lower. The main disadvantage to the HSS blade is that it does not hold an edge as long as carbide. In some tough materials, this can make a HSS blade difficult to use because the blade may need to be sharpened almost continuously