Like ‘Boutique’ Hotels and ‘Boutique’ Guitars, Boutique tools are cool. Boutique tools are sexy. Apparently owning boutique tools can make you more confident and successful vis ze ladies too…
But sometimes it is not the the chilliest tool in the box that does the best job. Take my burnisher for example (actually you can’t do that because DJ already did that): I have a (replacement) humble Carbur 2 burnisher. I have previously been the proud owner of two ’boutique’ burnishers. One had a beautifully turned Rosewood handle, the other was all cosseting curly cherry and brass. both had a nicely polished steel shaft. The difficulty was that neither of them would get near turning a hook on most of my (many) card scrapers. More in hope than in expectation I bought the French made Arno Carbur2 from Matthew Platt’s Workshop Heaven. I have not looked back since. This tool is like Velma from Scooby Doo: Not much to look at but always gets the job done (um…can I say that?).
One polished carbide rod is cylindrical and functions like a normal burnisher, the other is triangular with a very small radius on the edge which intensifies the pressure, ideal for thick scrapers and scraper plane irons where a more aggressive cutting burr is desirable. Both are extremely efficient so you get better results in less time and with much greater control. This tool works. Manufacturers have made their card scrapers from harder steel over the years (I have Rockwell hardness measurements to prove this) but, used correctly the Carbur2 bends each and every one to its will by creating a beautifully turned and evilly sharp hook.
Don’t buy one if you are looking for fancy finishes though: Mine has a factory standard gouge in the body and the carbide rods have been put in by a drunk vagrant wielding a spatula of epoxy resin in one hand a bottle of Thunderbird in the other.
Ignore any of that: if you simply want a tool that does exactly what it is meant to: get this one. The real payoff is that the Carbur2 is half the price of its nearest ‘rival’.
I barely ever recommend any tool to anyone but I would have to say of the Carbur2: If you are struggling with your current burnisher, throw it away, put it on eBay or use it as a boutique plant dibber but please, go and buy a Carbur 2 (from Workshop Heaven…of course).
– Paul Mayon
(For those of a technique driven disposition, normal dovetailing service will be resumed tomorrow with set 5 in Prunus avium)