Top Photo - Three Liogier rasps (front) and two Auriou rasps (back)
After waiting patiently for a few weeks I received some amazing new rasps from Noël Liogier in Saint Didier en Velay, France this week. Liogier and another French brand, Auriou, are widely considered the best handmade rasps in the world. Every tooth you see on the blade of each rasp is individually created (or stiched as the process is normally called) by hand using a hammer and punch.
Rasps are used to shape wood, and I often use them to create the handles on paddles and to round the edges of paddle blades. I start with a coarse rasp to roughly shape the handle and then a finer rasp to smooth out the roughness from the course rasp and refine the shape. After that I'll use varying combinations of scrapers, spokeshaves, and sandpaper to achieve the final finish.
Unlike cheaper machine-made rasps the teeth on handmade rasps are not quite uniform in their distribution on the face of the rasp, which actually results in a far better cutting action and a smoother finish on the wood. When the teeth are in a perfectly uniform pattern they tend to follow each other as they're pulled across the wood, creating channels in the surface which require a lot more effort to remove.
Like most tools it takes practice to become proficient using rasps, but they're very easy tools to use. They require very little maintenance- just the occasional clean with a brass-wire brush and a wipe with some protective oil every few months.
When compared to using spokeshaves for shaping, you can't get as fine a finish using a rasp, but on the upside you don't have the same issues with tearout if you cut against the grain.
I now have rasps from both Liogier and Auriou. Whilst there are subtle differences between them, tools from both brands are capable of producing superb results, and are a pleasure to use. I would recommend Liogier and Auriou rasps to anyone interested in shaping wood.
Fait par Noël Liogier pour Miss Emm (Made by Noël Liogier for Miss Emm)