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removing aluminum from a file?

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  • removing aluminum from a file?

    How do I get galled-up Aluminum chips out of my file?
    My file card just runs over the Aluminum.
    Anyone have any super-secret tricks?

  • #2
    Take a flat piece of aluminum and push it through the teeth of the file. It will remove the stuck aluminum on the file and also clean out any thing stuck in the teeth. This is a trick an old Model Shop machinist show me many years ago. after pushing the aluminum out, wipe file with a rag. It will make the file like new.


    • #3
      Use a better "file card".


      • #4
        Submerge it in a water and lye solution, the lye will attack the aluminum but not the steel. I removed some aluminum from a 4 flute end mill like this, I let sit over night.


        • #5
          I use a brass cartridge case with the mouth flattened, 45-70 case works best. be sure to use an empty one


          • #6
            To avoid this in the future use chalk to load the file first and avoid loading up the file with 'pinings'.

            Cheapo childrens sidewalk chalk works well and is almost dirt cheap.
            Mike N

            Occasional maker of swarf.


            • #7
              The phenomena is called "pinning" - swarf embeds in the teeth gets friction welded through use. A sheet of brass or aluminum pushed to follow the teeth works very well but in the end it's a little wearing on the edges. Do it but sparingly. A clean file cut cleanly and predictably. A plugged file is a PITA.

              I make wooden chisel shapes from rippings left over from the table saw - a 1/4 x 1 stick a foot long with a chisel edge belt sanded on one end. Works great if you use it frequently and it keeps the teeth clear. The wood residue dusts the gullets and helps keep the sward fromaccumulating.

              My ascerbic comments on file cards. The fiber brush is to me the sole reason for a file card's existance. Use only the fiber brush side to clean the file. The other features seem intended to destroy a file. Never use the wire brush side of a file card on a file. They are put there by file manufacturers to blunt the teeth and thus sell more files. There's a cruel looking fitting riveted to the end of the file card supposely there to pick out pinning. In fact it also damages the file teeth. I use a pointy hook scribe to eradicate stubborn pins.

              The caustic (lye) bath trick Reb suggests to remove aluminum pinning works well. I've tried it in days of yore.
              Last edited by Forrest Addy; 06-11-2010, 01:59 AM.


              • #8
                Get a relatively large caliber spent brass. I have 357 Mag by buckets, and it fits nicely in a file handle. Flatten the first 1/4" or so in a vise, then rapidly heat to glowing and then quench to anneal. Now, run it with the grooves (brass blade width across roughly perpendicular to grooves) and it easily takes the set of the teeth, pushing out all pinning material. If its start getting work hardened (harder to clean as well), just anneal again.
                Master Floor Sweeper


                • #9
                  I feel so old fashioned.

                  I use a finely sharpened scribe and pic each groove one at a time. Takes but a minute to clean one up.
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                  • #10
                    I've heard a piece of bamboo works best for cleaning.

                    Like some others,I load the file with chalk.

                    Some people say a file card blunts files.
                    Paul Compton


                    • #11
                      Candle wax works too. Warm the file a bit to melt it in the grooves. Dunno if it's better than chalk, I've never tried chalk.


                      • #12
                        before filing wet the file in parts washer (I use paraffin,) after filing wash file in parts washer...


                        • #13
                          Can anyone explain precisely why a card file dulls a file? I must admit I was taught that way and have never heard of this until now.



                          • #14
                            I use a lye solution to remove aluminum from files and rotary cutters or any metal surface the aluminum bonds to and it works.

                            I use pieces of 1/2" and 3/4" copper pipe flattened on one end to clean the file grooves like you would use a file card.

                            I've been using file cards since I was a teenager and I have a hard time believing that a file card will damage the cutting edge. That is, unless your using the file card the length of the file rather than across the file. The wires in the card would follow the grooves in the file and seldom if ever rub on the sharp edge. Even if they do I am sure the process of using the file to remove metal would do more damage to the cutting edge than a file card would.

                            On top of that the bristles of the file card are V shaped and lean back toward the handle so that they do not attack the groove. When the bristles go through the grooves they lean over much like the bristles of a paint brush on a stroke and follow the forward motion rather than leading.

                            I can't accept the concept that a file card does damage to a file.
                            It's only ink and paper


                            • #15
                              If a file card damages a file, I can only imagine what the steel I file must do.