What is a Rasp? What is a Rasp?
Contents hide What is a rasp used for? Types of Rasp Thick cut Medium cut Fine cut rasps. How to use Pro tips: Rasps... What is a Rasp?

Rasps are tools often used in woodworking for removing excess wood from the surface of a project. They are quite rough and you can even out the lumps and undesired curves of your wooden block.

A rasp is also known as a woodworking file, and it has a coarse texture. It enables you to remove loads of timber in a single stroke, and in that sense, it is more efficient than the metal file. It is quite handy for preparing your project before wood carving with power tools.

What is a rasp used for?

finishing projects with rasp

Rasps are used for finishing woodworking projects. They are designed for flat surfaces, or rather, surfaces you want flat. Some of them can achieve a level of smoothness as well, but in most cases, it is recommended to use the sandpaper after you use a rasp.

These woodworking tools will make your life easier whenever you need to finalize a wood project and you have wide surfaces that need to be smoothed out. The residue, or timber, of the wood, will go away in only a few strokes, and you don’t even have to apply much pressure.

Doing all this, especially when you are working on a large project, with only sandpaper can take forever and isn’t as efficient. This is why these tools are quite handy, and all professional craftsmen have a few of them in the workshop.

Types of Rasp


As with other tools used for sanding and smoothening, rasps are divided into three main categories based on the deepness of the cut they make. These categories will tell you how much timber you can remove with each rasp from one stroke, and depending on the needs of your project you can choose adequately.

In a way, they are divided as are sandpapers based upon their grit size. Three main categories are:

  • Thick cut

  • Medium cut

  • Fine cut rasps.

Additionally, rasps can be flat, as they usually are, or rounded, which is very handy when you have a convex or concave wooden piece to smoothen up. The semi-circular rasps are also very commonly used, as they can perform with any wood shape and they are very easy to use.

How to use

using a rasp

Two main things are important to know before you start using a rasp: how to position the wood, and how to properly hold the tool. The wooden surface you are polishing has to be fixated with either clamps or other tools you have around the house. If the wood is wobbly, there is a risk it will move and potentially hurt you in the process.

Secondly, how to hold a rasp: One of your hands, the one you usually use for managing tools, should hold the handle of a rasp, while the other hand needs to be pressed on top of the tip for additional control. Holding the rasp, a knife, a wood carving chisel, or any other tool is of the utmost importance, so don’t take this advice lightly.

Relax your upper body to be able to adjust the pressure you will invest in each stroke. Rasps are used by stroking one way each time, and it is generally easier to stroke away from you. Try to follow the line of the wood itself, to prevent it from cracking and breaking, especially around the nods.

Pro tips:

  • Always clean the rasp after using it. Small pieces of timber can be stuck between the teeth and cause problems the next time you use it.
  • Before using a rasp, check if it is properly clean. This way, even if you have forgotten to tidy it the previous time, you can make up to that mistake now.
  • Do not apply a lot of pressure. Rasps are strong, but they aren’t unbreakable. The handles can be loosened and this can cause a serious injury.
  • Check if the handle is firmly attached to the rest of the tool each time before using it. Even if you are taking care of your tools, they all have an expiration date and they are more or less prone to damage.
  • Keep your project in place with woodworking clamps while using a rasp.

Jeff Richardson Editor

Passionate about wood carving since high school. Always been able to relax while carving. 7 years ago, I decided to dedicate my whole time to wood carving; this is when I started my blog. I am a fan of DIY, fitness, and crafts. Also, I love to spend time with my friends, carving something out of wood. I hope you enjoy my articles.

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