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NOOB Question - Metal file information

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  • NOOB Question - Metal file information

    Questions for the collective wisdom - Who makes a good set of metal files?
    Is there any way to increase the life of a file (ie "sharpen" it) or do you toss them after they get worn out? I've alway purchased imported files from the big box stores but would like something a bit nicer if that is possible. Thanks for your help!

  • #2
    I've alway purchased imported files from the big box stores but would like something a bit nicer if that is possible
    Ouch, you poor guy. Using a lousy file is no fun. Then again using any lousy tool is no fun . The most common quality brand i see available is Nicholson. I bought my first ones close to 15 years ago and have yet to wear one out. Now its a home shop so they doesn't see constant use, but I consider filing an important part of metal working and they do get used a lot. And they are taken care of. No placing a drawer to get knocked around. kbc used to offer Nicholson sets, maybe still do, but I've always bought individual files. The other thing to improve filing is make sure you put a decent handle on each one, I like the hardwood handles myself.
    .

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    • #3
      You can sharpen files by getting them sand blasted.Thats what my local College does after the students have been trying to file off the hardened vice jaws.
      Frank

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      • #4
        I've used Boggs Tool Co. for sharpening all kinds of cutting tools. The owner is a very nice guy. Once I was on the phone with him and he took the time to tell me the history of the company which was very interesting.

        http://www.boggstool.com/

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        • #5
          Second on Nicholson, Lawson also makes some black-oxide finished files that have worked really well for me. I've only had them 5-6 years and they don't get used as much as my nicholson ones (they are all double cut and no good for draw filing) but I expect they are also of good quality.

          For sharpening, an old time trick in "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" is to soak the files in battery acid (i.e. sulfuric acid) for 24 hours. After a particularly stupid statement on my part, Evan posted a little animation of what happens when you soak the file in battery acid.

          Here is Evan's gif

          Last edited by Fasttrack; 05-01-2008, 02:14 PM.

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          • #6
            Nicholson are the only files cut in the US now. The Lawson files were made by Simonds in Newcomerstown oh. but they have since moved all production to South America. I would buy Nicholson or from this guy on ebay:
            http://stores.ebay.com/Karens-Junk-a...QQftidZ2QQtZkm

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            • #7
              I remember coment by Forrest a while back,, to clean a file use hardwood dowl or other small piece of hardwood push it along the cutting edges, it works pretty good on some files .
              scariest thing to hear " I am from the government and i am here to help"

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              • #8
                Originally posted by chuckey
                You can sharpen files by getting them sand blasted.Thats what my local College does after the students have been trying to file off the hardened vice jaws.
                Frank

                That just don't make sense.

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                • #9
                  File brush is key to have--it will load up if you're not keeping it clean.

                  I like railroad chalk in mine, but for some things a little heavy cutting oil works better.

                  I save the tubes that bigger cutters come in and stick 'em on my pegboard. Files go in them handle side up so each file is protected.

                  Grobet makes very nice smaller files, BTW.

                  Lastly, there is such a thing as a "lathe" file, and they do work better on lathes.

                  Best,

                  BW
                  ---------------------------------------------------

                  http://www.cnccookbook.com/index.htm
                  Try G-Wizard Machinist's Calculator for free:
                  http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCGWizard.html

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by IOWOLF
                    That just don't make sense.
                    Files are sharpened when manufactured by blasting an abrasive over them, instead of air, steam is used. Simonds Tools at one time would resharpen any files that were sent back to them in a small cabinet that was a modified sand blasting cabinet.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bmyers
                      Files are sharpened when manufactured by blasting an abrasive over them, instead of air, steam is used. Simonds Tools at one time would resharpen any files that were sent back to them in a small cabinet that was a modified sand blasting cabinet.
                      OK it didn't make sense to Me, I use a sand/bead blaster to DEburr stuff,as in take the sharp edges off.

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                      • #12
                        I have seen thousands of files sharpened and I still don't complete get it. I think since the steel is hard is creates a crisp edge on the file in contrast to blasting a soft steel that removes material. just my opinion.

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                        • #13
                          Perhaps it works for the same reason acid does, in just the same way Evan's animation shows. The abrasive probably has to be blasted pretty uniformly and straight down on it.

                          What the heck, if your file is dull, try it!

                          Cheers,

                          BW
                          ---------------------------------------------------

                          http://www.cnccookbook.com/index.htm
                          Try G-Wizard Machinist's Calculator for free:
                          http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCGWizard.html

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                          • #14
                            The old machinist/gunsmith who taught me the gunsmith trade had the following advice for me about files. Buy the best quality you can find (Nicholson is about as good as they get today here in the USA,IMHO), don't put them together in drawer without some sort of protective sleeves between them as banging together will chip and dull them. Don't use a file card on them (he said the wires on the file card would dull the files teeth while removing the pinnings) but instead take an empty brass cartridge case, like a 30'06, 30-30, .308, etc. and crush the case mouth and neck flat in a vice. Now lay the file on the work bench, and draw the flat edge of the cartridge diagonally across the width of the file. This will create teeth in the file that match the files pattern. Just shift the cartridge case over a bit and proceed down the length of the file. It removes pinnings very quickly without dulling the file.
                            He also used to say (dunno how true this is either, but it has worked for me for nearly 40 years) that a new file was good for aluminum only. Then when it got a bit dull, you used it for brass. When it dulled further, now it was fit for fine finish work on steel.
                            Also, the railroad chalk trick has worked for me as well, keeps the pinnings to a minimum/ But if you live in a very humid climate (no chance of that here in the Southern Nevada Desert!) the chalk will attract moisture and cause the file to rust quickly unless stored in oiled paper or with a block of camphor in the drawer.
                            Steve
                            NRA Life Member

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Fasttrack
                              Here is Evan's gif

                              I don't understand that .GIF. If you assume that the acid uniformly etches away the metal, then the slopes will be eaten-down like the animation shows. But wouldn't the flat regions also be eaten down?

                              At best, it seems like you'd end up with rounded tips (instead of blunt plateaus).

                              That animation seems to assume that only the slopes are eaten away, and that the blunt tips are unaffected by the acid.

                              Acid etching worn files is described in all the old machinery books, as is sandblasting. I'm sure it works, I just don't understand why
                              Does sand-blasting work on double-cut files? If it does, then I'm especially bewildered, because you can't use the "focused sand traveling down a fixed track" theory of sharpening...

                              By the way, I've often seen advertisements for Boggs Tool, who specializes in re-sharpening files and other cutting tools. They use a "Liquid Honing" process, which I assuming is some kind of abrasive slurry:

                              http://www.boggstool.com/liquidhone.htm
                              Last edited by lazlo; 05-01-2008, 11:03 PM.
                              "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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