What to Do with Worn-out Files

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Forum topic by Dave Rutan posted 07-01-2012 05:04 PM 5318 views 1 time favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dave Rutan

1754 posts in 2427 days

07-01-2012 05:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: files worn out old used question

I inherited a bunch of old files from my dad, but they’re pretty worn out. If I can’t find a way to renew them to usefulness, how does one dispose of old worn-out woodworking files?


-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

21 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3307 days

#1 posted 07-01-2012 05:07 PM

Scrap metal prices are really good right now – or you could sell them to a knife maker.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3816 days

#2 posted 07-01-2012 05:25 PM

I’ve heard soaking them in muratic acid renews them. Of course you need to be very careful using acid wearing goggles rubber gloves and a respirator and it’s know to create rust on any other near by metal tools etc. I”ve never tried this myself but it’s worth a try rather than scraping them.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3887 days

#3 posted 07-01-2012 05:28 PM

You can get them resharpened by sending them out or get the
stuff to do it yourself. This is probably more appropriate for
fine specialty files than the common abused old files.

You can make lathe scrapers from them if turning interests
you. The steel in files is very good.

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3382 days

#4 posted 07-01-2012 05:33 PM

Yup, a woodworking friend of mine makes custom shaped lathe tools out of old files.

View lew's profile


12509 posts in 3994 days

#5 posted 07-01-2012 05:59 PM

Ditto what Loren and Elizabeth said about the lathe tools.

Some one, here, cautioned me about lathe tools made from files can be brittle and might scatter if a major “catch” occurs while turning. So far I’ve been lucky, I guess.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View bandit571's profile


22006 posts in 2922 days

#6 posted 07-01-2012 06:05 PM

I’ve also seen some plane irons made from old files. Antique store down the road has a handful of old files made into lathe tools.

Skip the Muratic Acid BS. Use a vinegar soak. It will sharpened them up, and is a lot safe to use than something designed to clean off concrete…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4199 days

#7 posted 07-01-2012 06:30 PM

I though that ya used phosphoric acid. I’ve wondered about this issue too. Wish somebody who has done it would chime in.


View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3547 days

#8 posted 07-01-2012 06:34 PM

I delete my old files.

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3816 days

#9 posted 07-01-2012 06:43 PM

Hey Bill
here’s another thread on the subject from folks that have renewed there files, reading down the comments it looks like
vinegar is a safer way to go gather than the “muratic acid BS”

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3887 days

#10 posted 07-01-2012 06:50 PM

I knew a luthier who had both sent out and acid-sharpened
his files himself. He said it was not cheap to do but it
extended the useful life of the files. You may want to
consider that luthier files are both not cheap and receive
very focused wear.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2427 days

#11 posted 07-01-2012 06:56 PM

Can’t see cleaning files unless they are expensive ones that are just dirty (which shouldn’t be happening to an expensive file !). If you look at a file with a 5x magnifer and can see the edges are dull, like others are saying I’d switch to using it as a scraper.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2932 days

#12 posted 07-01-2012 07:38 PM

Jim, very interesting site you posted. Time for some experimentation.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View bobsmyuncle's profile


110 posts in 2930 days

#13 posted 07-01-2012 07:52 PM

There is a company that will acid sharpen files for not much money. They claim even new files will come out sharper. It’s been a while since I sent a bunch in, but they used to do the first couple for free. They will not sharpen any beyond repair and only return them if you ask (to save return shipping charges).

I recommend them:

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 3053 days

#14 posted 07-01-2012 07:56 PM

Boggs Tool & File Sharpening has a great rep. You might try them.
If the teeth are pretty rolled or flat, then yeah, it’s over as a file. The recommendations of using them for other tools is the best bet.
Selling them or any metal as scrap metal is not worth your time and gas unless you have a truck load of metal.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4199 days

#15 posted 07-01-2012 08:00 PM

So the question continues????
Do I find a local horse, get some citric, some vinegar, or go for muriatic in the neighbor’s yard?


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