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How To Hand Scrape Wood Floors – Easy 4 Steps


Before the advent of machines, people had to rely on the skills of their hands to get work done. The same goes for finishing floors! Hand scraping hardwood floors were replaced mainly by modern sanding and finishing techniques, but soon enough, history repeated itself.

People started to gain interest in the value of the rustic, casual, and warm look that hand-scraped floors give. They are timeless and are considered a high-end floor finishing choice due to the human touch. Each flooring finish is one of a kind by virtue of not having a perfect machine involved.

But there is a difference between a beautifully hand-scraped floor versus one that looks like a disaster. So let’s see how to hand scrape wood to get a natural, classy flooring and not a disaster!

Things To Consider Before Hand Scrape Wood

Hand-scraping floors involve artisanal manual labor and hence costs more than conventional machine sanding or other finishing techniques. But if you are into a vintage-looking floor, it is worth the extra bucks. Additionally, hand-scraping removes much less wood than sanding.

There are various styles of hand-scraping wood to choose from; scooping, sanding, denting, or mimicking a “reclaimed” vibe with splits, wormholes, etc. The scrapers come in several different shapes and sizes and could be specific to the finish you are looking for.

These scrapers are called shave hooks and are pretty similar to the tools used to scrape paint off walls. However, the ones with knobs are much easier to work with. You can use it to apply the required pressure.

What All You Need To Hand Scrape Wood?

The material list for hand-scraping floors isn’t very complicated, and most of these items can be found in a hardware store near you-

  • Wood scrapers with a handle (carbide-blade)
  • Extra blades for obvious reasons
  • Random orbit sander
  • Wax
  • Varnish (alternatively, drying oil would do too)
  • Pads to protect those knees (you’ll definitely need that!)
  • A lambswool brush, applicator, or roller (depends on what you are comfortable using)
  • Gloves

How To Hand Scrape Wood?

You must begin with baby steps to not ruin a portion of your flooring by scraping a big chunk. Start with a small 1′ x 1′ workpiece and try to stay inside its boundaries. This will ensure a neater result.

Step 1

how to sand hand scraped wood floors

The first step in hand scraping wood is to clean the surface thoroughly. Next, scrape it clean to make sure you have an even surface to work with. While some hardwoods are more capable of withstanding hand-scraping than others, you can hand-scrape most types of wood.

You will find that wood has grains in two directions. Never scrape against it; always go with the flow of the grain. You can distinguish between the two grains by the amount of resistance you feel while using the scraper. Scraping against the grain is more complicated.

If you are working with modern flooring, removing the finish with solvent paint removers first is an excellent idea to make the process easier. Your wood workpiece could have some bumps or uneven portions, which you can carefully even out by going against the grain. Beware of scraping too much wood.

Step 2

how to distress hardwood floors

The above step has to be repeated until your entire wood piece has been scraped. Choose a comfortable working position because hand-scraping wood is no mean feat. You may do it standing up or on your knees. There are certain indicators to knowing whether you have completed the task.

Given its rustic feel, it can get hard to figure that out. When the wood looks scraped, and there is no visible change when you use the scraper, it’s time to stop. Another thing to note is that when your blade slides against the wood, replace it with a new one instead of scraping it.

Step 3

hardwood hand scraping tools

Despite slogging for such a long time scraping that piece of wood, you might still leave spots of finish, unscraped wood, or scratches. After all, a human hand is not immune to making mistakes! But, do not fret over this because this is where your orbit sander comes to the rescue.

Go over the unperfected bits with the orbit sander, and if you still feel there is room for improvement, you can do another method. Attach a sander to a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaner and use this modified equipment to give a machine-like finish.

Step 4

refinishing hand scraped wood floors

The fourth and final step is to give your floor a varnish. You can also use drying oils instead of varnishes. Both are equally long-lasting. The drill to apply varnish is to use a lambswool brush, applicator, or roller and apply the second coat only after letting the first one dry for 24 hours.

Drying oils have the same application process, albeit it is followed up by a coat of wax in liquid or paste form. This coat of wax is reapplied as and when the floor wears and loses its sheen. The drying time between coats is 24 hours.

Final Words

Whether you want a historic-looking home, a cozy atmosphere, or just a unique technique to decorate your wood piece, go ahead and hand-scraped it. We have broken down how to hand scrape wood in simple words, so get scraping fellas!

Claudia Boyd

Claudia Boyd loves to keep the floor shiny and clean. She knows so many homemade methods and techniques to make the floor clean without any damage. You can check her work at floorsadvisor.

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