8 Types Of Woodworking Rasps -Woodworking Tools Guide

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When you are working with wood, you need to get set up with at least the basic tools.  To begin with, you need to have a workshop or at least a dedicated space where you can work, uninterrupted. Once you have a place to work, the next step is to create your setup.

A good setup includes a good workbench, some clamps and basic hand tools such as woodworking rasps so you can start building things our of wood, whether your goal is just as an enjoyable hobby or to eventually earn money making things out of wood.

What are the essential tools that you will need? It would help if you asked yourself this question. This will depend on the kind of woodworking projects that you expect to undertake. There are some tools, however, that occupy a prominent place in any woodworker’s toolbox.

One of the essential hand tools to consider here is the woodworking rasp. In this article, we highlight the different types of woodworking rasps and what each one can do. Here’s a list of the types of woodworking rasps to consider.

rasp and sand
Woodworking rasp. Image Credit: Dale Simonson.

Different Types Of Woodworking Rasps

Using a woodworking rasp appropriately is something that we usually tend to neglect. Since we use rasps to work on softer material, the types of woodworking rasps are fewer than the kinds of woodworking files. There are so many things you can do with a rasp if you know the functions of the different types that you can get. Hence, here is a classification of the different categories to make you aware of what each model is capable of:

Cabinet Rasps

Cabinet Rasp, 2nd Cut (#49), Takes a Medium Handle
Cabinet Rasp. See on Amazon.

You can use a cabinet rasp to file away small pieces of wood. Cabinet makers use this rasp to smoothen down high spots on the sides of the wood without causing damage to the surface. The cabinet rasp helps a cabinet maker add the final touches to a cabinet without removing too much wood. Thus, they get a smooth finish.

This rasp also has a pointed end, to enable the woodworker to gouge out extra wood from grooves in a precision way. We express the roughness of a cabinet rasp in terms of  “grain.” The cabinet maker will be particular about the curve, length and grain required for each project.

Square And Knife Rasps

Tulead Diamond Square File Saw Rasp Knife 239mm/9.4" Length for Sharpening or Sawing
Tulead Square And Knife Rasps. See on Amazon.

A square and knife rasp has a square cross-section, but the shape is like a knife. Since the knife rasp is knife-shaped, we can use it to cut wood. The square rasp has four faces, on each side of the square. Like other types of rasps, the square and knife rasps come in different sizes, specific to the type of project in hand.

Modeler’s Rasps

Auriou Cabinet Rasp 10in. Grain 9 (Right Hand)
Modeler’s Rasps. See on Amazon.

A modeler’s rasp looks similar to the cabinet maker’s rasp. And indeed, a cabinet maker is likely to have a few of this type of rasp as well. You can use the modeler’s rasp to make models, for example, in scale models of architectural projects. The modeler’s rasp tends to be more accurate and helps in adding finishing touches to extremely fine work.

Horse Rasps

Heller Black Master RASP
Horse Rasps. See on Amazon.

We use a horse rasp or hoof rasp primarily to file horses’ hooves during the process of shoeing. You can use these rasps used for filing down horses hooves lest they grow too long. However, this type of rasp finds its way into several woodworking applications today. The usefulness of this rasp is first that it is flat, and secondly that it has two filing faces. This feature makes it a useful tool in a woodworking workshop.

Cranked Neck Rasps

Narex Premium 4 pc Cranked Neck Chisel Set 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 Inch w/Hornbeam Handles 813307-813325
Cranked Neck Rasps. See on Amazon.

A cranked neck rasp has a narrow cut face, with a cranked tang and handle. This means that there is a curvature across the length of the file. This curvature helps in working on curved surfaces on wooden workpieces and confined spaces.

Needle Rasps

Mercer Industries GNRCH6 Needle Rasp Set, 6-1/4", 6-Piece
Mercer Industries Needle Rasps. See on Amazon.

The needle rasp is a relatively smaller type of rasp. It enables you to do fine work on wood. You can execute some precision operations by using a needle rasp. These rasps are popularly used in making stringed musical instruments like guitars and violins. They are also useful for working on sculptures and another similar intricate carving. We usually get needle rasps in the form of a set, typically, six to a set.

Round Rasps

Narex 10 mm 3/8" Round Cabinetmaker Wood Rat Tail Coarse Cut Rasp 872513
Round Rasps. See on Amazon.

As the name suggests, round rasps have a round cross-section. We use these rasps if we need to smooth and shape sharp, rounded curves in wood. Round rasps also help us to open up a hole in wood which requires just a bit more clearance on the inner diameter. Although a round rasp comes in solid, hardened steel, there are some variations available on the market today.

One such variation is a rasp made of a serrated stainless-steel sheet shaped into a roll. It has the appearance rather like a long, thin grater, but since the teeth are razor-sharp, it delivers some amazingly-efficient results. It works much faster than a conventional round rasp. You also get a much cleaner cut, making the surface ready to sand in no time.


Bundle - Rasps Files for wood and more. 8-Piece Heavy Wood Rasp Riffler File Set & 10-Piece Riffler Needle File Set
Rifflers. See on Amazon.

A riffler is a thin, fine rasp which is double-ended and has a curved profile. A sculptor or anyone who works on wood carvings with detailed work will always have a set of rifflers. You get these tools in a wide range of different shapes and configurations. Rifflers come with square, round, half-round and triangular cross-sections. You also get rifflers in either file or rasp configurations. It is useful to have rifflers in both of these configurations, where the ones with file teeth are good for fine finishing, but the rasp-teeth ones help you with rough shaping.


We cannot stress more on the importance of the humble woodworking rasp. It occupies a prominent place in your woodworking toolbox. Simply having a whole set of rasps won’t entirely help you to achieve your objectives.

You need to know about the different types of woodworking rasps and what each can do. Each hand tool has its limitations, and the same applies to rasps. Hence, knowing what the limitations and benefits of each type of rasp are also essential.

We hope that this article helps you to answer any questions you may have regarding rasps. Now that you know how to get the best out of all your woodworking rasps, nothing can stop you! If you’re wondering the difference between a rasp and file check out this post. 

Featured Image: Steve Snodgrass