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Riffler filres I have made

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  • Riffler filres I have made

    My usual bad photos. I need to get a more reliable camera. Mis spelled the title,too! Too much pain meds. These are some riffler files I made. They are patterns that are just not available commercially. Some of these have very small little "deer hoof" ends on them. They were made for getting into small details when I was doing relief chiseling of figures on 17th.C. style pistol barrels.

    The smaller files are made from 1/8" square 01 steel. There is another set,some of which are made from 1/4" square 01. A few of the tools seen in the larger size set(the one with some 1/4" square rifflers in it) are scrapers. The 4th. one from the right is a curved ended scraper. I made them mostly for fine fitting of flintlock locks and barrels. There is a 1/4" square riffler with long,straight,rounded ends. It is for smoothing up tapered ram rod grooves,as found on some pistols.

    As the out of focus closeup shows,some of these rifflers have 18th.C. details in the cutting ends. They used to make them with these little extra touches. Since rifflers do not get the wear that regular files get,plus the fact that I can re cut the teeth when needed,I could afford to put in these touches.

    The 1/8" square rifflers also have checkering near their ends,which help the grip,and which factory made ones do not have. They are also polished instead of dull gray.

    The 3rd. riffler from the left has the nicest detailing on the blade. But,there is a round ended riffler among the
    larger(1/4" size)group,which has a 1/32" ball on the big end,and a 1/64" ball on the small end,cut with file teeth. Third from the left,but is a 1/8" shank one,as are some others mixed in. In this same group,8th. from the left,is a riffler with round ends,like mushroom heads,which are cut medium on one end,and fine on the other.
    Last edited by gwilson; 10-01-2011, 10:35 PM.

  • #2


    • #3

      Oops: the first riffler on the right is factory,as is the 5th from the left,and the2nd. from the left. Didn't see those till I saw the enlarged picture.
      Last edited by gwilson; 10-01-2011, 10:24 PM.


      • #4
        G., It's always a pleasure to view your heirloom quality workmanship.
        So many tools these days are made to be used up, abused, and tossed.
        It's nice to know that someone still takes pride in a well built tool and not just see it as a means to an end.
        Now if the we could just get the tool Mfrs. to see it that way.
        I cut it twice, and it's still too short!


        • #5
          Riffler Files

          Those are really nice. How does one make the teeth on a file, and then recut them when needed, presumably after hardening?
          Kansas City area


          • #6
            How are the teeth cut in to them?


            • #7
              I made a master file to simply file the teeth on. It was made by taking an angle cutter on the horizontal mill. The cutter was 45؛ on 1 side,and vertical on the other. It took some time,but I took a 3/8" square bar of 01 and milled 3 sides of it with rows of teeth length ways. Then,I turned it sideways and milled relief into the rows of teeth that were milled the long way. 3 different degrees of cut were made. I can't recall the # of TPI offhand,and was looking for the file to show a visiting toolmaker last week. It's near my bench somewhere.

              Coarse,medium,and fine teeth were milled out after many,many passes. I just file the teeth onto the rifflers. To recut them,I can just anneal the rifflers,re file them,and re harden and draw them.

              I got the idea from an old gunsmith I knew years ago. He made his own checkering files. He just filed up a square piece of 01 into a "V" shape,and filed the teeth on with a gunsmith's checkering file. Now,those files produce pyramid shaped teeth with negative front rake,but they were fine for wood. He didn't even harden them. Just gave them another swipe to sharpen them.

              For metal,I wanted at least a 90؛ front edge on the teeth,so I had to make the special file.

              To re harden the teeth,I heat them a little bit,and dip them into PBC No Scale,which Brownell's Gunsmith Supplies sells,then heat to red hot. It coats the surface you want to keep from burning,and flies off when you quench in water. In oil,you have to scrub it just a little to remove,and you have a nice,clean surface with the teeth protected nicely from being burnt by the torch.

              To temper,I just put some water on the file,and heat it till the water sizzles off,wait a second,and instantly quench. Old timers called that "taking the snap out of it." The file stays about 65 R.C.,as they need to be.

              All file makers have used some type of surface protectant. In the 19th.C.,Stubbs used left over mash from making beer. It was called "beer leavings". Coated the teeth and stuck well,producing the clean,gray surface we are familiar with.
              Last edited by gwilson; 10-01-2011, 11:58 PM.


              • #8
                Those files look too practical for you Mr. Wilson. You should have made them out of brass!!!!!!!!

                For those of you not in the know, that was a joke!!!!!!!

                My eyes are not good enough to make such tools. When I make things I like to hold all my tolerences to a tenth. A tenth of an inch!!!
                Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!


                • #9
                  Glad to see you joking,Black Forest.


                  • #10
                    Nice work Geo, very interesting.

                    Thanks for posting the pics.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Black Forest
                      Those files look too practical for you Mr. Wilson. You should have made them out of brass!!!!!!!!

                      For those of you not in the know, that was a joke!!!!!!!

                      My eyes are not good enough to make such tools. When I make things I like to hold all my tolerences to a tenth. A tenth of an inch!!!
                      i have seen a berylium bronze file, i didnt think that was possible but it is!
                      nice work as normal, please post some badly messed up work to help us lesser metalworkers sleep at night!


                      • #12
                        Aren't the badly messed up pictures enough to satisfy you?

                        I need to get my wife's BETTER camera,and take some detail shots of the ends of some of these files.

                        By the way,are any of you aware that a good,extremely FINE small file can effectively be made by pushing a piece of tool steel over something like 320 grit Wet or Dry paper,or a diamond bench stone. At an angle,like file teeth,of course,and DON't wear out the 320 paper. Diamond bench stone would be better,as its grit won't start to wear down at once,making the file's surface too fine. Then,coat the surface with PBC,and harden it? Old time watch makers used this trick to good advantage.

                        The finest files are made by scribing the file's surface with a diamond,anyway. The teeth are too small to be cut with chisels.

                        Warning,though,This is a VERY fine file,good only for polishing out scratches left by fine commercial watch files,like #6 cut,or #8 escapement files. This becomes important if you do small work that needs the best possible finish.

                        A few of my riffler are actually miniature knife steels,made for wiping sideways,because their teeth were made straight parallel to the long axis of the file,like knife steels are made. I made these teeth by drawing a jeweler's saw,under tension in the saw frame,down the file several times,until good teeth tracks were established. These little mini knife files work VERY well. They enable me to get all of the minute scratches going in the same direction. This is important when finishing up the complicated surfaces like flintlock locks. They look so much better when the surfaces are uniform.

                        You can make your own surface protectant by taking ordinary flour,say 1/2 cup. Add 1/2 tsp. of yeast(to hold the batter together) and a little salt(not sure why the salt is added). Then,add water carefully to make a thick batter. Dip your tool in it,and let it dry a bit.When you heat it up,it will burn,smelling like burnt bread,but leaving a coating of carbon on the tool. It will come off easily after quenching,leaving a nice,clean,untouched gray surface,without burned teeth. Thing is,you have to make it every time you need it,or it will rot,of course.
                        Last edited by gwilson; 10-02-2011, 11:14 AM.


                        • #13
                          Pretty cool.

                          They were made for getting into small details when I was doing relief chiseling of figures on 17th.C. style pistol barrels.
                          Throw down! I shoot black powder. Let's see an example!


                          • #14
                            I have a left over example of an unfinished chiseled barrel I can post soon. Unfortunately,I have never been a good photographer,or good at taking pictures of work before it was sold and gone.


                            • #15
                              That's quite an assortment and looks like a lot of work.

                              What are you using them for?
                              Vitَria, Brazil