MAU Art & Design Glossary




Scrapers are edged tools used in copper plate printing for various purposes such as removing burrs produced when carving the image on the plate, adjusting the tone, deleting the carved lines and finishing the plate mark. Since the cross section of a scraper’s blade is either triangular or three-edged, it is sometimes referred to as sanryoto (three-edged knife).

The blade is gently curved and has a pointed tip. The corners are shaped into sharp edges with which to scrape off the burrs or the parts to be corrected.
When a plate is engraved with a burin, burrs appear on both sides of groove. These burrs are scraped away with a scraper. Scrapers are held with the thumb, index finger and middle finger. The little finger is laid against the plate while the burrs are removed with the blade. When making the plate mark, the edges of the plate are filed diagonally with a metal file, and the shavings are carefully removed with the scraper. Particularly in mezzotint, scrapers are used as a drawing tool. A rocker is firstly used to texture the plate surface and the burrs created in this process are then scraped off with a scraper to draw the image. Various gradations can be produced by adjusting the burr height. In all these processes, the scraper leaves behind a slightly rough surface so a burnisher is used for the finish.

There are several types of scrapers. Some have a wooden handle, others are made entirely of metal and come with a needle or burnisher on one side. When storing, it is best to wrap it in a piece of cloth soaked with machine oil to prevent the blade from rusting. The edges are sharpened using a sharpening stone, such as an Arkansas oil stone, and some machine oil. For quick sharpening, wet and dry sandpaper can be used as an alternative.

Scrapers can be purchased at art supply stores that handle printing supplies.


  • Cross-section and close-up photo of the bladeCross-section and close-up photo of the blade