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Oil or chalk on files

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  • Oil or chalk on files

    I, like many here have been told to only use chalk when filing; it helps keep the teeth from filling with metal shavings. Many times when filing, I’ve wondered why not use oil. In many ways a file is just an under powered, under speed milling cutter, oil certainly helps milling cutters from filling up with chips; so why not oil on files?

    Thoughts?
    Mike Hunter

    www.mikehunterrestorations.com

  • #2
    I have been places where they kept files in a coffee can of oil or kero. It seems that with chalk or oil you want none or a lot. Just a little seems to clog up worse.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Toolguy View Post
      I have been places where they kept files in a coffee can of oil or kero. It seems that with chalk or oil you want none or a lot. Just a little seems to clog up worse.
      Yep - with milling cutters, one of the primary goals is to prevent chip weld caused by the high instantaneous heat/pressure on the cutting edge. Just a thin film of oil will prevent this. With a file, you don't generate the same kind of heat/pressure that you can with an endmill, lathe cutting tool, etc. Typically, you end up with very fine wisps or even just dust when cutting with a file. A thin film of oil just attracts these and ends up plugging things up. A thick film does help, though, since it is more fluid and can help transport the debris away from the file (and onto your hands, worktable, pants, etc!)

      I've tried chalk and got along ok in soft materials but I usually use oil lots of oil because it's handy and it prevents rust, even though messy. I've found the key to keeping files clean and sharp is really user technique/selection of appropriate file more than any magic coating. Even a dry file won't clog if you're paying attention as you use it. A regular brushing or gentle knocking on a wooden table top helps keep things clean during long filing jobs.

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      • #4
        Get a file brush. I think that's what they are called. It's a wire brush that is about six inches long and two wide and flat with bristles about 3/8 inch long. Looks like the brush got a crew cut, lol

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ahidley View Post
          Get a file brush. I think that's what they are called. It's a wire brush that is about six inches long and two wide and flat with bristles about 3/8 inch long. Looks like the brush got a crew cut, lol
          That would be called a "File card"
          “I know lots of people who are educated far beyond their intelligence”

          Lewis Grizzard

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          • #6
            I rub steel into mine
            "...do you not think you have enough machines?"

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            • #7
              Thanks to Guy Lautard, my lathe file sits in a tube of light oil, hanging on the wall to the right of the "kill zone" - - -

              Cheers,

              Frank Ford
              HomeShopTech

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              • #8
                Flatten the mouth of a cartridge case or small copper brass tube. Push at right angle to the teeth. Soft brass or copper cleans chips quick without damage.

                Bob

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bob Ford View Post
                  Flatten the mouth of a cartridge case or small copper brass tube. Push at right angle to the teeth. Soft brass or copper cleans chips quick without damage.

                  Bob
                  +1

                  and I use chalk

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                  • #10
                    No one else just use the edge of a convenient piece of softwood
                    to clean pinning?

                    I own file cards, but do not find them particularly efficacious at
                    cleaning the file teeth when pinning occurs. Also, there are those
                    who maintain that file cards contribute to dulling teeth of files.

                    As for oil. Traditionally, workers were admonished to ensure that
                    both file and work surface were clean of oil or grease. Grounds for
                    this being that oil/grease keep filings from clearing away from work
                    area, leading to clogging. Finer the tooth pattern, the greater the
                    tendency. Still, some capable folks are endorsing oil in this thread.

                    I have some chalk and continue to use it, but sources of supply for
                    random pieces are dwindling, thanks to new technologies. Chalk is
                    compatible with the forementioned practice of using a scrap pc of
                    softwood to remove pinning.

                    Brass and copper bits have worked for me, but scrap softwood is
                    less valuable and more plentiful around here.

                    .

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                    • #11
                      For better or worse, I usually use a brass bristle brush. I go across the file, parallel to the lines of the teeth with light to moderate pressure. It does not seem to dull them. And I lay a single track of light oil along the length of the teeth: it quickly spreads out the full width of the teeth. This seems to work well for me.

                      I tried to use a file card once and found it did not clean the teeth very well. It tries to clean out too many teeth at once with bristles that are too stiff. And it had steel bristles so I was not too sure it was not dulling the file.
                      Last edited by Paul Alciatore; 11-03-2015, 06:12 PM.
                      Paul A.

                      Make it fit.
                      You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

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                      • #12
                        those wax sticks in the cardboard tubes used for saw blades and abrasive discs works on files too, and not too messy

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                        • #13
                          Tried some Ptfe dry lube today (it happened to be on the bench), looks optimistic
                          Mark

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                          • #14
                            I use both...chalk on files that may be used on wood, oil on lathe and other metal-only files. I also use a file card/range pickup brass cartridge case on chips that stick in spite of the chalk or oil.
                            David Kaiser
                            “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”
                            ― Robert A. Heinlein

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                            • #15
                              I have used both for a long time. I am now tending on oil over chalk. It does a better job of preventing corrosion. The key is keeping the file clean and free of pins. I use a card, brass tube and a fine pointed styles, in that order. Often it requires all 3.

                              Randy
                              Do yourself a favor and see if your TV carrier has America One News Network (AONN). 208 on Uverse. It is good old fashion news, unlike the networks, with no hype, bias or other BS.

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