How do you know your file is sharp?

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Forum topic by Dr_Unix posted 12-29-2010 02:06 AM 1810 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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49 posts in 3539 days

12-29-2010 02:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: hand file file sharpening dull

Ok, you geniuses :-), I’ve recently inherited a huge pile of hand files from my father. Some are for woodworking and some for metal, but my big problem is separating the wheat from the chaff. Can anyone out there help?

How do you determine if a file is dull?

Can you sharpen old files? How?

2 replies so far

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3204 days

#1 posted 12-29-2010 02:41 AM

You can sometimes restore life to a rusty file by using electrolysis or strong acid to remove the rust. It will not make them like knew, but may clean the edges enough for them to work.

Floats (i.e files that have broad smooth teeth) are sometimes made to be resharpened. (they are not tempered to a very hard surface) These can be resharpened with a stone or hardened triangular file. If they are hardened, as is the case with some originally made for auto body work, they are also candidates for annealing, sharpening, and tempering if you are into heat treatment.

I judge whether a metal file is sharp or not by using it on the edge of a piece of angle iron, etc, If it cuts smoothly, its sharp. If it skips its dull. For wood, I use them as long as they work.

Worn files are good candidates as a source material for making into other tools/cutters such as glue scrapers, etc. by grinding to shape(being careful not to burn out the temper). Any acquaintance with a small forge may also want them for making a variety of implements.


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View Loren's profile


8157 posts in 3065 days

#2 posted 12-29-2010 02:52 AM

Rusty ones are likely to be bad but sometimes the coarse files can
still cut wood okay even if abused. The finer files tend to be wrecked
by rusting.

Most people store files badly but I’ve found decent ones in surprising
places – including a pattern-maker’s rasp for $3 with lots of life left in it.

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