Needle files--Do I need to spend a fortune?

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Forum topic by JoeyG posted 04-24-2014 04:47 PM 1143 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 2647 days

04-24-2014 04:47 PM

I find myself in need of some needle files for some inlay/carvings I am doing and after a quick google search I learn that I can spend anywhere from a few bucks up to a few hundred bucks.

So my question is will I regret the $10 I spend on a cheap set or the $100’s I spend on an expensive set. I’ve made it this long without them, so I can make to, but they may make life easier.

What do you all think?

-- JoeyG ~~~

9 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3669 days

#1 posted 04-24-2014 05:16 PM

Well, I don’t have expensive ones and the cheap ones I do
have work okay. They do cut slow, but that’s because they
have fine tooth patterns.

I will comment that I have a couple of sets of cheap rifflers
and I don’t feel they work very well on wood. They are
too coarse and have too few teeth I think.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3325 days

#2 posted 04-24-2014 05:16 PM

i googled needle files, and quite a few choices came up for no more then 20 bucks, i would go with that , certainly not 100’s….have you tried making some of your own, mill some small wooden sticks and glue some good sand paper onto cant hurt to try…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Redoak49's profile


3277 posts in 2010 days

#3 posted 04-24-2014 05:33 PM

I have a small set of HF needle files and they seem to work fine for filing small areas of wood. I do not use them on metal and would guess that they would be marginal for that use.

The nice thing about the needle files compared to sandpaper on a stick is that they are smaller and the shapes allow you to get into some small oddly shaped areas.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2992 days

#4 posted 04-24-2014 06:25 PM

I have a couple sets of the Grobet Swiss needle files in different cuts.
The Tell brand of Swiss needle files are pretty good also, and not as expensive.

I’m a jeweler and I need the best quality files. For me, half the difference is speed of cut, but just as important is how well the files stay clean. Cheap files load up and leave erratic cuts that would be kinda like trying to finish sand with sandpaper that is plugged up. Slow and less than smooth results.
Also, it is important to note that I am working with silver and gold and not filing wood when I say I need top quality files.

There is one file that I use that now sells for around $35 that’s called a double ended half round wax file. It works great with wood also as a small rasp. There are cheap, under $10, versions of this file also, but they are about useless. The wax file is tapered on both ends, one end coarse, the other end fine, top is round and the bottom is flat. This is like having 4 different files in one.

View MrRon's profile


4793 posts in 3265 days

#5 posted 04-24-2014 07:55 PM

I would go with a cheap set of files. You probably won’t be using every one of them, so when the most used files become unusable, replace them with a better one. You can look for good files at any industrial supply houses like McMaster_Carr, MSC, Wholesale Tools, Enco, Rutland, etc.

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 2647 days

#6 posted 04-24-2014 08:20 PM

Thanks your insights everyone. I appriciate the help. I think I like MrRon’s idea of buying cheap and replacing the ones I use most with more expensive ones.

-- JoeyG ~~~

View Pendragon1998's profile


74 posts in 1597 days

#7 posted 04-26-2014 03:02 PM

I would imagine that even a lower quality metal file would be reasonably efficient at removing wood.

View Texcaster's profile


1285 posts in 1695 days

#8 posted 04-26-2014 09:13 PM

A luthier trick is to grind chainsaw files to a V section and you have two different size rounds.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View MrRon's profile


4793 posts in 3265 days

#9 posted 04-26-2014 10:38 PM

If you want to use files that are used for metal removal, use double cut/bastard files. They have a coarse pattern and will remove wood better. Single cut files just are too fine for removing much wood and clog easily.

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