Talk:File (tool)

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Three Square Files Somebody wrote in the edit that obviously a triangular file is not square - it has 60 deg. angles, not 45 deg. That is true, of course. Historically, though, triangular files are often called "three square files", so it is accurate on that level, one of slang. Round files are also called "rat-tail files" for obvious reasons. It is scientifically wrong, but culturally correct, in other words. Thanks, cool place, WikiP. Jjdon (talk) 02:09, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Merge request[edit]

I have put a merge tag on File (tool) asking it to be merged into File (metalwork) File (metalwork) asking it to be merged into File (tool). The metalwork article is much better, and as a layman I don't know if there's really two terms here or not. So, if somebody "in the biz" wants to tell me I'm an idiot for proposing such a merge (since the metalworking template does list both) then all I ask is a response here explaining to a layman like myself why they shouldn't be merged. Thanx! — RevRagnarok Talk Contrib Reverts 13:41, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

In principle, I agree. But files are not only used to shape metal, but also wood and plastics. So I would argue that the good stuff should be merged to File (tool) and the File (metalwork) be made into a redirect. The file disambiguation page should also be fixed. Luigizanasi 06:12, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
reverse merge - to file (tool): It's way overdue for a merge but I'd be tempted to merge the other way, (tool) is a broader specifier than (metalwork). FWIW my contributions to File (metalwork), in both images and text, have been major and it doesn't worry me if it's merged to file (tool). If I had found file (tool) first my edits would have gone there instead. — Graibeard (talk) 06:57, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
I moved this discussion, and reversed order of merge. I agree 'tool' is the better of the descriptions, but wasn't really thinking too much that day and did my usual criteria of 'merge the little scrawny article into the big one.' — RevRagnarok Talk Contrib Reverts 10:59, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
merge - to file (tool):as per above. Long overdue Bridesmill 20:08, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Done. Steve Summit (talk) 02:38, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

? wording incorrect[edit]

New to Wikipedia and non-expert in metalworking, however... I believe the wording is incorrect "Generally, as with saws, the more teeth per inch, the softer the material it is intended is remove..." Shouldn't it say the "fewer teeth per inch" (i.e. a more corse file)? Jmlunds 21:56, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

The fewer teeth per inch, the rougher and more aggressive the file is. For both harder and softer materials, bulk removal is done with a rough file, then the finishing is preformed with sequentially finer and finer files. It doesn't have squat to do with how hard or soft the material is. That whole part should be gone. Even though it alludes to saw blades, this is also incorrect. One may easily cut aluminum with a 4 TPI (or less) blade, and in many situations this is the correct blade choice. The tooth profile on files, saws, endmills, single point tools, etc., is what controls the cutting characteristics in various materials. The teeth per inch controls chip clearance and cutting pressure. Too many teeth, on both files and on saws, spreads the pressure out over more surface area. Trying to cut through a 10"x10" block of aluminum with a 14 tpi blade will dull the blade due to rubbing, which in turn causes grabbing, heat buildup, and eventual blade failure. Likewise, trying to cut thin-walled tubing with a 2 tpi blade will wipe the teeth off the saw. Back to files: In rough files, the teeth can hold a larger volume of swarf which results in a deeper cut per stroke, but leave a jagged finish. In fine files, the teeth clog quickly, resulting in far less material removal per stroke and requiring frequent cleaning in exchange for a finer finish. Both kinds of file will cut hard and soft materials equally well. An inexperienced filer will mistake the greater difficulty of rough filing harder materials using a low-TPI file as a problem with the file itself. While a finer file may apparently relieve the problem, the finer file is just taking a less aggressive cut. Less aggressive cut, less power required per stroke, and the user believes the finer file is cutting 'better.' - Toastydeath 04:14, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

References or sources[edit]

Being one who edited a fair amount of this topic, I can say that if anybody can find decent references to working with files, then you're a better man than I. Probably this article is a better source than any other single thing I've ever read. Not much out there. Just to say that the tag will likely be there till the end of time......Not something that's in books, much. "This is a file, you push it and it cuts....." My own knowlege comes from old timers showing me how, as it is with most people, no doubt.Jjdon (talk) 20:56, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

What about:
That's just an off the cuff search. Wizard191 (talk) 21:27, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

Cool! By all means, reference the article.....Jjdon (talk) 16:59, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Hey, I've been digging and found a great reference specifically on files and their history.

It's somewhat skewed as it was written by a file manufacturing company so their files are the best of course.Chancwj (talk) 21:01, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

How are files made?[edit]

While this information is not necessary for the use of a file, this page would be improved with a brief description how files are typically made. This is the age-old toolmaker problem that a harder tool is necessary to make a hard tool. Yet files for ages have been produced inexpensively, in quantity, and with remarkable regularity in surface detail. Are there special techniques used in file making?

Steven M. Haflich (talk) 15:52, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

"Files" are a relatively recent and high-cost invention. A much older variant is the rasp, as that's easier and cheaper to make - within the limits of a local blacksmith, making tools for their own use. Files have mostly been cut by machine, quite complex and very specialised machines.
Rasps have individual spur-shaped teeth. They're cut by striking lengthwise along a blank, so as to raise this small spur up from a groove. Tedious to make, but requiring little more than a small hand chisel, anvil, hammer and some time.
Files have their teeth cut by a point tool, moving sideways across the blank so as to shave out the gullet between teeth. This pretty much requires a machine to carry it out: the cutting force is high and sustained, so it can't be done by striking a chisel with a hammer. There's also the need for accurate placement of the teeth, if the file is to be useful (sharp and consistent in its cut) afterwards. File-cutting machines are based on ratchet gearing and screw mechanisms to advance cutters tooth by tooth. Although there are examples of hand-cut files, these were always rare and expensive. They were mostly produced by dedicated file makers, then sold into trades that could justify their use, such as clockmakers.
Oddly today, machine-cut files are cheap and hand-cut rasps are expensive. A hand-cut rasp is favoured for wood-carving, as the irregular spacing of the teeth avoids the harmonic "tramline" effect that regular teeth can give on soft materials. Andy Dingley (talk) 16:15, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I just happened to notice last night - Leonardo da Vinci invented a file-cutting machine. It used a falling chisel-edged trip-hammer to cut a tooth in one blow, with a leadscrew mechanism for feed. Probably wouldn't have worked though - steels good enough to make files from usually need a single-point tool to cut their teeth. Andy Dingley (talk) 15:33, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

Check out this book published in 1920 by the Disston company, a large file and saw manufacturing firm.

It has lots on the history of files, which were made by hand for thousands of years. Of course the teeth weren't as precise as machine cut files. The book also recounts the gradual change from hand cut files to machine cut files more than a hundred years ago.

Making files requires careful heat treating of steel. You have to anneal the metal to make it soft so you can cut teeth with a chisel. After the teeth are formed the file is heat treated to harden the steel.

Chancwj (talk) 21:09, 9 July 2010 (UTC)


Diff (Thanks, Andy!) I'd like to know more about the hardening of file steel. It certainly can't be dead soft, and I suspect it is not tempered to a state as "soft" as chisel steel, for example. The times I've used file steel for projects, I've often annealed it before shaping, usually re-hardening it after, not always tempering it then. Since files have a long history of being produced in commercial quantities, I'd be interested to see more info on differential hardening of their teeth. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 00:44, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

I have added some information about the case hardening process used on steel files. Note that it's not a differential hardening process. Wizard191 (talk) 18:02, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

"tile file" and "engineer's file"[edit]

I was hoping to find a simple description a "tile file" and an "engineer's file" on this page, but neither of these common terms seems to appear. Paulmdt (talk) 07:14, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

A 'tile file' is a steel (sometimes plastic) stick, coated with a silicon carbide abrasive grit. They're not strictly a file, more of a beefed up emery board, as they don't have "teeth" as such. They're used for tiling, as the hard grit can be used to sand at hard materials such as ceramics or glass.
An 'engineer's file' is too vague a term to really give a distinct definition. It's mostly used as a term for the generic hand file. It's also sometimes used (perhaps oddly, as it uses a meaning of "engineer" to mean "locomotive driver") for what is also called a "toolbox file" or a "farmer's file". These are typical steel hand files, about 10" or 12" long, but instead of having a spiked tang for a wooden handle, they have a smooth flat handle formed in the steel. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:32, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Escapement Files?[edit]

I'm not a Wiki expert, so I won't touch the article, but I see no mention of escapement files. They are a classification of short, (very) thin files with bastard-cut or embedded diamond surfaces, similar to needle files in form and function but smaller. Typical dimensions are on the order of approximately 10 cm (4 in.) in length and 3-5 mm (1/8-3/16 in.) in width. Best used for very fine work on small pieces, escapement files are commonly used by clock-/watch-makers, as well as in crafting jewelry. Technotom2001 (talk) 18:58, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

No one has yet incorporated this material, so I have boldly taken the liberty of doing so myself. It is not my intention to step on toes, but no discussion on the classification of files is complete without describing of escapement files. Being an artisan jeweler, I can attest to their singularly being suited to certain types of work. Technotom2001 (talk) 18:12, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for adding this info. It is a good improvement in coverage. — ¾-10 00:58, 10 November 2014 (UTC)