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A guide to metal working files

How do metal files work?

Metal files are applied to the surface that needs to be removed, reshaped or smoothed. In some respects, they work like sandpaper. The abrasive part of the file is applied to the place that needs remodelling, moving the file will cause removal from the surface or will smooth or reshape it depending on the desired effect.

To accomplish the desired effect you need the right file and knowledge about how to use it properly. We will be looking into the different types of files and their uses as we continue with this guide.

Types of Metal Files for working with metal:

  1. Flat File – one of the most easily found files in any home, this file is mainly used for sanding down metal surfaces. This type of metal-working file is long and rectangular in shape. Its face side shows double cuts except for the edges where single cuts are found.
  2. Hand File – these files are generally used to file surfaces that are at a right angle to the surface that is already finished. They are similar to flat files in shape with two faces and one safe edge.
  3. Square File – used for filing square and rectangular openings, keyways and splinters. This file is long with even, rectangular sides with a square shape at the cross section. All its sides are used for filing.
  4. Round File – used to enlarge or smooth circular openings and to smooth and shape round surfaces. This file is long and round in shape and the whole circle surface is usable for filing.
  5. Half Round File – because of its shape it is used for filing both flat and curved surfaces. One face of the file is round and the other one is flat. Both faces are usable for filing.
  6. Triangular File – used to file internal edges, square corners, grooves and notches. It has three sides. They can all be even or one side can be shorter than the other. Only two faces are used for filing while the other is a smooth surface.
  7. Knife-edged File – used to file acute angles above ten degrees, narrow grooves, corners and slots. As the name suggests it is shaped like a knife.
  8. Needle Files – this type of file is used for more delicate work and smaller jobs. Where other files may be too bulky or take more off the surface than needed, the needle files will be just right. They usually come in a set of seven – all differently shaped. Needle files come in all the shapes that normal files do but in a more compact size for finer work.
  9. Crossing File – due to its shape this file can be used in tighter spots or on larger surfaces. It has a round shape but, unlike the round file, it is bulkier and it narrows towards its point.

When doing extensive work, it is sensible to know which file to use and where – thus minimising the chances of damage to your object and to your files. Using the right file and looking after them can extend their life considerably.

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