use for old files

tvrgeek

Scott
Corporate Member
Doing some work and I noticed about all of my files ( metal working side) are dull or really dull. Guess that makes sense as some were my mothers from when she was in OT school!.

Anyway, seems a shame to toss them. I noticed a You-Tube from Stumpy on blunt files and it makes sense to grind one or two into a blunt edge. Any other good uses, considering I am not going to re-temper or forge them.

I was also wondering, as fast as a file wears out, why pay for the good Swiss, German, or even finding Nicolson from Mexico? Are HF an overall better deal? Dirt cheap.
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
Soak the just dull ones in citric acid for about 24 to 48 hours. You may be surprised at how well it restores them.
 

Scott H

Scott
User
I was also wondering, as fast as a file wears out, why pay for the good Swiss, German, or even finding Nicolson from Mexico? Are HF an overall better deal? Dirt cheap.
I think the value proposition is that the expensive files dull more slowly but someone please correct me if I'm off base here. As far as I know that would really only be the case if the cheaper ones are using inferior alloy or heat treating.
 
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Scott H

Scott
User
I have heard of them being ground into machinist scrapers for scraping plane bottoms the way you scrape the ways on machine tools. I haven't tried it yet but I have a jointer plane that is very out of flat I am thinking of doing it to.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
Corporate Member
Yea, you can etch them and make them rough, irregular, and cut a little longer, but most actually bend and chip, not wear dull.
Machinist scraper. That could be handy. I'll give one a try.

Picked up a Husky pack from Home Despot of mills and a big double cut bastard. I use them the most.

FWIW, I did my plane soles with carbide paper on glass, then finished with diamond.
 

Scott H

Scott
User
FWIW, I did my plane soles with carbide paper on glass, then finished with diamond.

That is how I have done mine as well, I just have a jointer plane I need to do and I was thinking it might be easier to have a smaller reference surface that is flat, than finding something that is dead flat and 2-3x longer than a jointer to push it along. That is where the scraping approach comes in.

This is the page I think I was reading about it on:

 

HITCH-

Hitch
User
I have heard that folks used to repurpse them as woodturning tools. But I have also heard that this is a bad idea in that the file metal is more brittle and can break.
I save old metal small stuff to weld up into yard art. Have yet to weld anything with it though ;)
 

Scott H

Scott
User
I have heard that folks used to repurpse them as woodturning tools. But I have also heard that this is a bad idea in that the file metal is more brittle and can break.
I save old metal small stuff to weld up into yard art. Have yet to weld anything with it though ;)

Just occurring to me, you could draw down the temper in a normal kitchen oven to the point where it is not ultra fragile, but don't know if all the teeth are basically stress risers at that point too.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
Corporate Member
I tossed 20 of my old files in phosphoric acid for 3 hours, About half of them look like they may be serviceable for a little longer under a microscope. Other half are junk. By the time they were done, cleaned, and preserved, way too expensive if I was running a machine shop. For us cheap "bastards", I guess it is worth while.

Kitchen oven, 500 F on oven, 1200 F on clean. I need to read what temps and what steels and what the carbon content of a file is before any of the charts are meaningful. I Tempering Temperature - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics is going to take some careful reading.

Ah, I did find a reference that states the pitch does vary between sizes. Something had to be up as it is clear my 12 inch Bastard is courser than my 8 inch. Also found a tip. Chalk works the best to keep the teeth clean, especially in soft metals. I wonder how it works in wood? Curious, only my Bastards are labeled. I have some second and one smooth and neither is labeled. My one Swiss is marked #4. So my learning for the day is covered.
 

Scott H

Scott
User
Stiff bristle brush (this style, the bristle side, not the metal file card side, doesn't have to be this brush) seems to work the best on my files for wood. I have also just basically used a flat corner of a soft piece of wood and rubbed it along the tooth line. The teeth compress it until it turns into an inverse of the tooth shape and it gets most of the crud out of the teeth.

Edit: After doing a quick test though I think the stiff bristles are faster.
 

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awldune

Sam
User
I have heard of them being ground into machinist scrapers for scraping plane bottoms the way you scrape the ways on machine tools. I haven't tried it yet but I have a jointer plane that is very out of flat I am thinking of doing it to.
This is very easy and effective, just grind the tip square to make a sharp 90 degree edge. It's almost required if you want to set up a Japanese plane and probably any other wooden plane that needs fettling.
 

riggsp

Phil
Corporate Member
Many years ago when I worked as an auto mechanic, I made a gasket scraper from an old file...I clamped it in a vise and broke it at about 6" long, ground the end straight then beveled it to 45 deg, then used the side of the grinder to grind the "teeth" about 2" back on the bottom side...it was/still is the best, easiest to use gasket scraper I've ever used.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
Corporate Member
So, as is, they are tempered. If I grind cold and carefully, I can get an edge on them?
 

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