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Forum topic by Loren posted 02-14-2013 03:01 AM 3447 views 2 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10476 posts in 3670 days

02-14-2013 03:01 AM

I took files for granted for a long time.

Now I don’t. I have about 30 of them in different sizes
and they help solve problems in both wood and metal.
The more I use them and learn the more I like them.

Most of my files are old and many are not very

I have not sent any out for sharpening or tried vinegar
cleaning. I’ve read that this stuff works though.

I recently read that file cards wreck files and brass brushes
are better. Seems plausible.

Post file insights and questions in this thread please.

... I certainly want to know what your insights are and
of course people getting started will be served by them.

10 replies so far

View MisterInquisitive's profile


32 posts in 2119 days

#1 posted 02-14-2013 04:17 AM

Nicholson has offshored their production and new, non-US made files, while at the same price, are not as good as the older US-made files. I’ve heard good reports from saw filers and machinists about Grobet brand files, and my experiences with them validate this.

Vintage files and rasps can be sharpened by Boggs Tool in California. The prices are reasonable, especially for older, hard-to-come-by wood rasps and Vixen files. I’ve collected a lot of old rasps and files and sent them to Boggs, who made them as close to new as is possible: clean and sharp. If you find you need their services, push the button and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how nice your tools come back.

To clean files or rasps, use sharpened bamboo sticks and bamboo toothpicks. It doesn’t dull the teeth like a metal card brush or brass brush would. Bamboo also doesn’t crush like, say, pine, and isn’t bendy and ineffective like a plastic brush. For stubborn wood chips you can dip the file or rasp in mineral spirits, which will swell the wood and make it easier to pop out of nooks and crannies. As a side benefit it loosens pitch and is non-corrosive to the steel.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3670 days

#2 posted 02-14-2013 04:20 AM

Wow. Terrific.

Do you clean the file ridges one at a time by pushing the
pointy bamboo stick into the valley?

View MisterInquisitive's profile


32 posts in 2119 days

#3 posted 02-14-2013 04:33 AM

Yes, doesn’t have to be perfect, just get most of the junk out. Another thing comes to mind: never draw a file backwards through the (metal) work. It damages the teeth. Just forward on a cut stroke, and use a light touch—just enough for it to cut. A light touch allows the swarf or sawdust to clear the teeth so the gullets don’t become prematurely galled up and become ineffective. Files are considered expendables, like sandpaper, but they can be a bit pricey, and with a little care can be made to work well for a long time.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2802 days

#4 posted 02-14-2013 01:20 PM

Good tips Mr. ! a good source for the bamboo sticks is BBQ skewers, I usualy can find them in a couple of legths at a dollar per hundred.
They also work as mini dowels.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View helluvawreck's profile


31348 posts in 2889 days

#5 posted 02-14-2013 01:34 PM

In our molding business we ground our knives and made the templates in order to grind them. For many years we made our templates from template stock which is a heat treatable steel although we never hardened them. You would almost never ware out a template. The main tools that we used were a good hacksaw and files. We had a nice workstation for making the templates and we had probably 150 files in racks on the wall that bordered the back edge of the work table. The grinding room was inside the machine shop and we had another work table for the machine shop where we had a whole other collection of files. I made the templates and knives for about 9 years as well as general engineering and maintenance. I grew a big time love of files. In my wood shop I have 2 big drawers that are full of files.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3304 days

#6 posted 02-14-2013 02:32 PM

For some good information about files see Slav Jelesijevich’s video on files:

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2169 days

#7 posted 02-14-2013 03:52 PM

I use a little stiff bristle brush to clean my files and rasps. It looks like a paintbrush with the bristles cut to about 1/2”. I got it at Woodcraft. It works much better than a file card. If they get gummed up, I just spritz some Simple Green on them and that cleans them right up.

View waho6o9's profile


8205 posts in 2599 days

#8 posted 02-14-2013 04:16 PM

Excellent thread Loren.

I’m looking forward to all the great responses and the good videos
like lwllms posted.


View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3567 posts in 2274 days

#9 posted 03-04-2013 11:12 PM

@Loren—Thanks for posting this. I have only used files to sharpen the cutting edges of garden tools like shovels and hoes. Now I’m learning that I can use them on wood too! Will wonders ever cease? It makes sense to use files like sandpaper, as Slav said in the video.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3381 days

#10 posted 03-05-2013 05:32 PM

Loren, you might want to reach out to Slav Jelesijevich for some info. I recently watched a video of his and he actually recommended a guy that sharpens files for cheap.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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