A rasp is a woodworking tool used for shaping wood. It consists of a point or the tip, then a long steel bar or the belly, then the heel or bottom, then the tang. The tang is joined to a handle, usually made of plastic or wood. The bar has had sharp teeth cut into it. Rasps generally cut more coarsely than files. They are useful for rapidly removing wood from curved surfaces. They remove less wood than a drawknife, so they are easier to control. Even though rasps leave very coarse finishes, the cut-away areas can be easily smoothed with finer tools, such as files.
There are several types and shapes of rasps. There is a half round, round and flat. The several types of rasps are bastard, cabinet and wood (finest to coarsest). All these varieties can be used to make different shapes.
A similar tool to a rasp is a Cheese Grater file; it has individual teeth like a rasp for cutting wood with the exception that the teeth have a small hole near each of the them to allow shavings to pass through (like a cheese grater). The advantages include a faster cutting like action, and prevented clogging with material being removed. They come in different styles and shapes including file-plane, round file and shaping/shaving tools. Today with the aid of better manufacturing techniques the cheese grater style rasp/file is again popular.
Rasps are not limited to woodwork, however. They can also be used in shaping alabaster stone. In fact, a rasp is the only tool that is prominently used to shape alabaster. Saws and chisels are also used, but only to rough out the shape of the alabaster sculpture.
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