File (tool)

The file is a tool used in metal work . It is made of a piece of hardened steel, with cutting teeth on each face and in some cases on the edges. With them metal surfaces are worked to wear them, give them shape or smooth them.


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  • 1 Parts of the file
  • 2 Classification of files
    • 1 Classification of files by size, grating or edge
    • 2 Classification of files by cross section
    • 3 Classification of files by length
    • 4 Classification of files by the separation and size of the teeth
  • 3 Way of working with files
  • 4 Most frequent filing operations
  • 5 Practical tips for the use and conservation of files
  • 6 Safety regulations
  • 7 Source

Parts of the file

Parts of the file.

  • The earor tail : it is the extreme portion of the file where the mango is placed.
  • The heel: is the part of the body of the file that is not carved.
  • The face: it is the widest side of the file, it has cutting teeth carved on its surface.
  • The edgeor the edge : it is the narrowest side of the file, in some cases it also has cutting teeth.
  • The tip: is the end of the file opposite the spike.

File classification

Files can be classified according to:

  • Its size, grated or edged.
  • The shape of its cross section.
  • Its longitude.
  • The separation and size of the teeth.

Classification of files by size, grated or sharp

Files can be single and double:

  • files of simple size: they have a row of teeth carved parallel to each other, at an approximate angle of 5 ° to 85 ° with respect to their longitudinal axis, depending on the work for which they are intended.
  • double size files: they have two rows of teeth that cross each other. These files have the teeth arranged in such a way that the efficiency of the file is superior to those of simple size and they remove the material more quickly.

Classification of files by cross section

Files can be flat, square, triangular, round, half round, etc .:

  • flat files: they are carved in all their width and thickness. One of its edges may or may not be carved. When it lacks size, it is called a smooth edge.
    This is one characteristic of the files known as parallel, in which one of their edges appears without carving, which allows filing angles without one of the sides of these suffering wear.
  • square files: they are carved on their four faces and are used in holes with rectangular sections, in grooves, etc.
  • round files: they are used for the same purpose as square ones, but in cylindrical holes, concave surfaces, etc.
  • half round files: they are general work tools. The curved side is used for curved surfaces and the flat side for flat surfaces.
  • Triangular files: they are carved on their three faces, they are suitable for filing internal angles.

File sections.

Classification of files by length

Files can be small, medium, and large. Generally its length is in direct relation to its edge. The length of a file is expressed in millimeters and is measured from the tip to the heel, that is, the place where the stem of the file begins.

  • small or (silversmith’s) files: They are used for small and precise jobs. They are of great use in jewelry, silverware, matrix manufacturing and watchmaking. These files must be handled with extraordinary care, as they break easily.

Classification of files by the separation and size of the teeth

The files can be rough, bastard, entrefinas or of half cut, musas (fine).

Way of working with files

The way to hold the files is very important to avoid fatigue and increase the performance of the operators, when executing operations with them. The operator must hold the file by its handle with one hand, putting the thumb on top of it and the remaining fingers surrounding it, while the other hand can lean on or grasp the other end of the tool.

The position of the operator’s body when filing is of great importance.

This should be placed halfway with the vise and at a comfortable distance, and that when carrying out the work there is no need to flex excessively.

The filing of materials begins with a normal pressure and as the tool is driven on the surface of the piece, the pressure on it increases, so that each tooth performs the cutting function when making the journey.

When moving in the opposite direction, the file does not cut, since the inclination of the teeth does not allow it, so it must be slightly separated on this route to avoid damaging its edge.

Properly maintaining horizontality; inclination or other position of the file in the execution of the works, is of vital importance for the finishing of the objects.

More frequent filing operations

Files can be used to perform countless adjustment and finishing of materials, but the most commonly used in the workshop are:

  • Filing of flat, wide or narrow surfaces.
  • Filing of surfaces that form angles.
  • Filing of cylindrical pieces.
  • Filing of curved surfaces (concave and convex).
  • File of thin pieces.

This operation, almost always, begins with the cross filing, preferably with the bastard file; One of the edges of the previously selected piece is taken as reference, where the excess of the material is marked. Checking of a surface with a bracket, follows development of work.

The use of entrefine or half-cut and muse or fine files is generally indicated when we are close to the mark of too much of the material, which allows obtaining a more finished surface.

Practical advice for the use and conservation of files

  • When filing, put your feet, body and arms in the correct position.
  • Use the entire surface of the file.
  • Use only one side of the file and the other when the first is worn.
  • First rough the entire surface and then finish.
  • Select the length of the file, taking into account the extent of the surface to be filed.
  • When more than 0.5 mm needs to be filed, use a bastard file.
  • You should not use bastard files to remove burrs.
  • When less than 0.5 mm needs to be filed, use a file.
  • You should not use muse files to file soft materials such as; copper, lead, bronze, zinc, etc.
  • For thicknesses less than 0.2 mm you must use a double file.
  • You should not use fine files to file rough pieces.
  • Always place files on the right side of the vise.
  • You should not place the files on top of each other. Clean files before storing.

Safety rules

  • You should never use a file without a rope and it must always be well adjusted to the stem.
  • To place the end or file, a hole is made with a diameter slightly smaller than the thickness of the shank.
  • When filing parts with sharp edges or edges, take care that your hands do not rub or trip over them.
  • Do not sweep shavings with your hands or blow them with your mouth.
  • The workpiece must be held firmly in the vice.
  • You should not use the file as a lever.
  • Take the file with one hand and insert the handle with the other.
  • Take the file with one of your hands to finish inserting the handle hitting the bench.
  • Make sure that the handle is located on the axis of the file.


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