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Encyclopedia > File (tool)
Detail of a double-cut flat file
Detail of a double-cut flat file

A file (or hand-file) is a hand tool used to shape material by cutting. A file typically takes the form of a hardened steel bar, mostly covered with a series of sharp, parallel ridges or teeth. Most files have a narrow, pointed tang at one end to which a handle can be fitted. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (3456x1898, 1238 KB) Detailed view of a file File links The following pages link to this file: File (tool) ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (3456x1898, 1238 KB) Detailed view of a file File links The following pages link to this file: File (tool) ... For other uses, see Hand (disambiguation). ... A modern hammer is directly descended from ancient hand tools A tool or device is a piece of equipment which typically provides a mechanical advantage in accomplishing a physical task, or provides an ability that is not naturally available to the user of a tool. ... Look up material in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Steel (disambiguation). ... The tang of a sword or fixed-blade knife is that part of the blade extending into and usually through the grip that is fastened to it. ...


The rasp is a related tool which is generally larger and has raised, pointed teeth on its surface rather than straight ridges. Wood rasp A rasp is a woodworking tool used for shaping wood. ...

Contents

History

Archaeologists have discovered rasps made from bronze in Egypt, dating back to the years 1200 - 1000 B.C., Archaeologists have also discovered rasps made of iron used by the Assyrians, dating back to the 7th Century B.C.


Classification

Relative tooth sizes for smooth, 2nd cut and bastard files
Relative tooth sizes for smooth, 2nd cut and bastard files

Files come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and tooth configurations. The cross-section of a file can be flat, round, half-round, triangular, square, knife edge or of a more specialized shape. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2030x1533, 590 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): File (tool) User:Graibeard/gallery ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2030x1533, 590 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): File (tool) User:Graibeard/gallery ... A humans visible teeth. ...


Some of the common shapes and their uses: Hand Files are parallel in width and tapered in thickness - used for general work.


Joint Round Edge files are parallel in width and thickness, with rounded edges. The flats are safe (no teeth) and cut on the rounded edges only. Used for making joints and hinges.


Half Round Ring files taper in width and thickness, coming to a point, and are narrower than a standard half round.. Used for filing inside of rings.


Barrette files are tapered in width and thickness, coming to a rounded point at the end. Only the flat side is cut, and the other sides are all safe. For doing flat work.


Checkering files are parallel in width and gently tapered in thickness. They have teeth cut in a precise grid pattern, and are used for making serrations and doing checkering work, as on gunstocks.


Crossing Files are half round on two sides with one side having a larger radius than the other. Tapered in width and thickness. For filing interior curved surfaces. The double radius makes possible filing at the junction of two curved surfaces or a straight and curved surface.


Crochet files are tapered in width and gradually tapered in thickness, with two flats and radiused edges, cut all around. Used in filing junctions between flat and curved surface, and slots with rounded edges.


Knife files are tapered in width and thickness, but the knife edge has the same thickness the whole length, with the knife edge having an arc to it. Used for slotting or wedging operations.


Pippin files are tapered in width and thickness, generally of a teardrop cross section and having the edge of a knife file. Used for filing the junction of two curved surfaces and making "V" shaped slots.


Square files are gradually tapered and cut on all four sides. Used for a wide variety of things.


Triangle or "Three Square" files are gradually tapered and come to a point. Used for many things, cutting angles less than 45 degrees, etc.


Round or "Rat Tail" files are gradually tapered and are used for many tasks that require a round tool - opening holes, cutting a scalloped edge.


Round Parallel is similar to a round file, except it does not taper. Shaped like a toothed cylinder.


Equalling Files are parallel in width and thickness. Used for filing slots and corners.


Slitting Files are parallel in width with a diamond shaped cross section. Thinner than knife files and use for filing slots.


Pillar files are parallel in width and tapered in thickness for perfectly flat filing. Double cut top and bottom with both sides safe, these a long, narrow files for precision work.


Warding files are parallel in thickness, tapered in width, and thin. Like a hand or flat file that comes to a point on the end. Used for flat work and slotting.


A file's teeth can range from rough, coarse and bastard (meaning intermediate) to second-cut, smooth and dead smooth. A single-cut or mill file has one set of parallel teeth, while a cross-cut or double-cut file has a second set at an angle to the first. In Swiss-pattern files the teeth are cut at a shallower angle, and are graded by number, with a number 1 file being coarser than a number 2, etc.. Most files have teeth on all faces, but some specialty flat files have teeth only on the face or only on the edge, so that the the user can come right up to another edge without damaging the finish on it.


Dreadnought (curved teeth) and millenicut (straight teeth) both have heavily undercut, sharp but coarse teeth. Both can be used for rapidly removing large quantities of material from thick aluminum alloy, copper or brass. Today, the millenicut and dreadnought have found a new use in removing plastic filler materials such as two-part epoxies or styrenes such as those commonly used in automobile body repairs.


Use

Files have forward-facing cutting teeth, and cuts most effectively when pushed over the workpiece. Drawfiling involves laying the file sideways on the work, and carefully pushing or pulling it across the work. This catches the teeth of the file sideways instead of head on, and a very fine shaving action is produced. There are also varying strokes that produce a combination of the straight ahead stroke and the drawfiling stroke, and very fine work can be attained in this fashion. Using a combination of strokes, and progressively finer files, a skilled operator can attain a surface that is perfectly flat and near mirror finish. The grooves in a file may became clogged during use, causing the file to lose its cutting ability and trapped shavings can scratch the work surface. A file card can be used to clean the file. A File card is a brush with metal bristles, used to clean the cutting grooves in a file. ...


Files should always be used with a handle, otherwise the naked tang can injure the operator.


Specialized file types

Diamond files

A selection of diamond impregnated files
A selection of diamond impregnated files

Instead of having teeth cut into the file's working surface, diamond files (pictured to the right) have small particles of industrial diamonds embedded in their surface (or into a softer material that is bonded to the underlying surface of the file). The use of diamonds in this manner allows the file to be used effectively against extremely hard materials, such as stone, glass or very hard metals such as hardened steel or carbide against which a standard steel file is ineffective.
Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1389x891, 236 KB)Photograph taken by Glenn McKechnie on the 24th March 2005. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1389x891, 236 KB)Photograph taken by Glenn McKechnie on the 24th March 2005. ... This article is about the gemstone. ...


Needle files

A selection of small needle files
A selection of small needle files

The image to the left shows a selection of needle files in an assortment of cross sectional shapes.
Needle files are usually sold in sets of 6 or 12 (or more) different shapes, packaged in a soft pouch, both for ease of handling and protection of the files' teeth. They are small files that are used in applications where the surface finish takes priority over metal removal rates but they are most suited for smaller work pieces.
They are often used as pictured, however, like all files, they are safest when used with a handle. The handle is often designed around the collet principle which allows the files and handle to be interchanged quickly.
Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1440x801, 220 KB)Photograph taken by Glenn McKechnie on the 24th March 2005. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1440x801, 220 KB)Photograph taken by Glenn McKechnie on the 24th March 2005. ... A collet is a holding device that forms a collar around the object to be held and exerts a strong clamping force on the object when it is tightened. ...


Riffler files

A selection of riffler files
A selection of riffler files

Riffler files, as pictured to the right, are small to medium sized files in an assortment of cross sectional shapes and profiles. The varying profiles and shapes enable them to be used in hard to reach, or unusually shaped areas. They are often used as an intermediate step in die making where the surface finish of a cavity die may need to be improved. - eg; plastic injection moulding or die casting
Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1728x930, 226 KB)Photograph taken by Glenn McKechnie on the 24th March 2005. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1728x930, 226 KB)Photograph taken by Glenn McKechnie on the 24th March 2005. ... Injection moulding is a manufacturing technique for making parts from thermoplastic material in production. ... This article is about the manufacturing process. ...


Machine files

A selection of machine files
A selection of machine files

The files pictured on the left are designed for use in a filing machine. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1821x996, 349 KB)Photograph taken by Glenn McKechnie on the 24th March 2005. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1821x996, 349 KB)Photograph taken by Glenn McKechnie on the 24th March 2005. ...


A filing machine is similar in appearance to a scroll saw or band saw in that the file is mounted vertically in the middle of a table. When in operation the file reciprocates vertically while the workpiece is presented to the file's face and manipulated around the table/file as the shape requires. Dremel scroll saw A scroll saw is a small electric or pedal operated saw useful for cutting intricate curves where a jigsaw or coping saw is not appropriate; for it can cause curves with edges. It is somewhat similar to a band saw, but unlike band saws, where the sawblade... Large resaw blades used in a sawmill. ...


The cone point of the pictured, top two files allows the files to center themselves firmly in the bottom file holder. The pictured, lower two files are required to be inserted into the bottom file holder and physically restrained with set screws, an identical process as for the top holder. A set screw, also called a grub screw in British English, is a type of screw generally used to secure an object within another object. ...


Filing machines are useful tools as they reduce fatigue and improve product accuracy, and although not usually seen in modern production environments, they may be found in older toolrooms or diemaking shops as an aid in the manufacture of specialist tooling.
One half of a bronze mould for casting a socketed spear head dated to the period 1400-1000 BC. There are no known parallels for this mould. ...


See also


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