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Cleaning files


#1

Thanks to all for their advise on cleaning files. I had tried
some of these solutions, but not always the right way. For
instance, one of you suggested a piece of silver sheet to clean
the buildup out of the file. Now, it may be my imagination, but
silver really does work better than copper or brass. Also, a
welder friend had told me to rub soapstone on the file.
Obviously, now, this was a substitute for chalk, which works for
me, and soapstone doesn’t.

Thanks ya’ll!

Marrin Fleet
@Marrin_and_Mary_Dell
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
(About halfway between the Gulf of Mexico
and Canada, on the Mississippi River;
home of Elvis and W.C.Handy)


#2
Hi; if you use a 20% solution of hydrochloric acid and water it
will re etch the files... a '''file card'' is a good way to clean
files. Treating your file with a shot of wax once in a while will
help also          

Isn’t this pickle? Can I re-etch files by soaking them in pickle?
For how long?–that is to say, how do you know when they’re done?
–Noel


#3
    Isn't this pickle? Can I re-etch files by soaking them in
pickle? For how long?--that is to say, how do you know when they're
done? 

No, here in the states, it’s often sold as Muratic or Pool Acid. At
the home center (and grocery stores in this pool heavy state) it’s
very inexpensive.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR afn03234@afn.org


#4

No, this is hydrochloric acid. Pickle is usually Sulfuric acid,
citric acid, or sparex (Sodium Bisulphate). I’m not certain I would
try this method as last time saw steel in hydrochloric acid it
oxidized the steel.As for re-etching, I’m not sure that would be the
right term either. I’m not 100 percent certain, but I don’t think
files are chemically etched, rather they’re abraded by a much larger
and harder machine. A weak solution of Hcl would probably destroy
much of the silver/gold before the file took much damage, but I still
would not put a steel file in any type of acid, period. As for
putting a file in pickle, it’s a great way to copper plate stuff,
but I don’t know if pickle would even affect the non-ferrous metals
loading the file, at the least you’ll just turn the file black and
everything else copper colored.

A file cleaning tool, and wax/burlife are what I use on my files,
and they’re as clean as the day I got them. If they get really loaded
and it’s something I cant scrape off with a tool, I’ll throw it in
the ultrasonic cleaner for a few cycles, and that pretty much
finishes it off. Also someone in one of my classes suggested a brass
brush in a flexshaft, seems like it should work, but I haven’t tried
it yet, no need. Anyways good luck with the file cleaning =)

-Doug


#5

Hi all, I clean silver out of files with a short piece of copper. It
cleans better than a file brush. Some say a piece of brass is better,
but I like copper. Brian

B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y
Auckland NEW ZEALAND
www.adam.co.nz


#6
    No, here in the states, it's often sold as Muratic or Pool
Acid.  At the home center (and grocery stores in this pool heavy
state) it's very inexpensive. 

G’day; here I go again. Muriatic acid is the old name for
hydrochloric acid. ‘Pool acid’ is sodium bisulphate, - sodium
hydrogen sulphate - used for the pH adjustment of swimming pools,
saunas. etc. When ‘pool chlorine’ is used to kill bacteria in these
pools it also makes the water alkaline which is bad for one’s skin.
So the gentle and safe acidity of sodium bisulphate is used to
neutralize the water.

Files: If you give a file or even a fine toothed saw a quick spray
of CRC or WD40 before use it won’t clog; not even when filing
aluminium which is notorious for clogging. – Cheers for now,

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


#7
    G'day; here I go again.   Muriatic acid is the old name for
hydrochloric acid. 'Pool acid' is sodium bisulphate, - sodium
hydrogen sulphate - used for the pH adjustment of swimming  pools,
saunas. etc.  When 'pool chlorine' is used to kill bacteria in
these pools it also makes the water alkaline which is bad for one's
skin. So the gentle and safe acidity of sodium  bisulphate is used
to neutralize the water. 

Yes, I know that it’s the old name for hydrochloric acid. I’m
simply stating the names that many hardware/home center/pool
suppliers and counter people in this region (southern US) will
respond to. Trust me, if I walk into the local pool supply place
and ask for “pool acid”, 80% of the time, a gallon jug of
Hydrochloric will be plunked onto the counter.

Sorry to disagree, I suspect regionalisms are having an effect, but
sodium bisulphate is generally labeled “pH Decreaser”, or “pH
Minus”, with “Dry Acid” written in much smaller type on the label
(I’m holding a bottle, now, and have had to purchase case lots of
both for the rental properties I’ve supervised.)

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR afn03234@afn.org


#8

My files are clogged up with aluminum and/or zinc dust (I know I
should have used separate files for this but I was in a hurry and at
least the project went fine). How should I clean this? Linda PS: for
those of you who sent me tips on how to solder zinc: everything went
perfectly well and I had great fun trying out some new techniques.
Finals are next week, I hope the jury will have fun with my results
too!


#9

I did a project in aluminium some time ago and used the same set of
files as I use for everything. I cleaned the files regularly as I
went but found that the wire brush was ineffective as the metal was
so soft. I took a piece of scrap metal with a sharp corner and
scraped it out running it down the legth of the teeth one at a time.
It is tedious but very effective. My files still cut very well and
I don’t think they were at all adversely affected by filing aluminium.


#10
     My files are clogged up with aluminum and/or zinc dust (I
know I should have used separate files for this but I was in a
hurry and at least the project went fine). How should I clean this? 

G’day; As both aluminium and zinc are attacked and dissolved by hot
strong strong alkalis, my suggestion is that you make up a strong
very hot solution of washing soda (sodium carbonate) or a hot
medium strength solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide; lye;
Drano ) The aluminium should fizz and bubble and dissolve, leaving
the steel intact. To avoid clogging files with aluminium,
copper, or other soft metals, give the file a squirt of CRC556 or WD
40 before starting work.

Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ


#11

Linda You could use a file brush to clean your files, try your
hardware store or jewellery tool supply company. If you want a
photograph of one, email me and I’ll send you an attachment.

Regards
Alan Lewis
UK
ukgoldsmith@btinternet.co.uk


#12
    My files are clogged up with aluminum and/or zinc dust 

If you haven’t tried this yet, go to the hardware store and ask them
for a “file card”. It’s a wooden paddle with a handle and short,
stiff, wire bristles with a little bend to them. It’s designed to
rake debris out of the grooves on the file. I wouldn’t do without
one. For really stubborn particles, Suzanne Wade did an article in a
recent issue of AJM showing that you could use a piece of brass and
push in along the grooves to dislodge particles. I think it was
either Charles Lewton-Brain or Alan Revere who shared that
with us via AJM magazine.

David L. Huffman


#13

David, I clean my fine files with brass as well. I use square stock
(or round rod squared on the end) then put a sharp angle on the end,
pushing this sharp edge into the file. As long as you go with the
same angle as the grooves, it will clean all debris. When the brass
point becomes too dull, just file a new angle. For more QuickTips,
go heRe: http://www.silversmithing.com/1quicktips.htm

Jeff Herman

Jeffrey Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation
PO Box 72839
Providence, RI 02907
Tel: 401/461-6840
Fax: 401/461-6841
E-mail: restore@silversmithing.com
Web: http://www.silversmithing.com/silver


#14

I use copper. A piece of 5mm wide strip and it digs out several rows
of teeth at a time. The file cards I buy at our jewellery stores
feature stainless steel wire that is actually too fat to fit into the
teeth of the file. How could that work, I think. But the copper strip
has been fab.

Brian

B r i a n A d a m
B u s h J e w e l l e r y W o r k s h o p s
Auckland NEW ZEALAND
www.adam.co.nz/workshops/high_school/ high school jewellery


#15

Hi Linda,

Don’t be tempted to try ‘file card’ - the stuff like a brush with
hard steel bristles - it will only ruin your files. The correct way
to clean files is to use a small piece of copper ( a copper coin is
just right). Hold this nearly upright on the surface of the file at
right angles to the line of the teeth and, pressing down quite hard,
run the coin along the edge of the teeth - on a normal double cut
file this will mean doing it at two different angles across the
file. (I’ll try to put a couple of photos on a new page in the
filemaking section of my website to explain this better). As you run
the coin along the teeth it will develop a ‘saw edge’ which will get
all the dirt out from the gaps between the teeth and leave the fil as
good as new. Doing this regularly will lengthen the life of you files
as they will always cut well and you won’t be tempted to put too much
pressure on them, so risking breaking teeth etc.

Best wishes,
Ian

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#16

I have found that a brass brush in a flex shaft does a great job of
cleaning files. Use a very light touch and move the wheel at low
speed across the file in the direction of the riffles. Cheers from
Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple elegance IS fine
jewelry! @coralnut1


#17

Hi All…

For my files I’ve always used two things…

The first, is after every use I clean them with a stainless steel
"welder’s toothbrush"…this gets out the stuff that embeds pretty
well…even in the double cut (criss-cross) type files…

I dunno…does the brass/copper method work for the double cut
files?..I’ve never tried it with those…

Secondly, I chalk 'em up with white blackboard chalk before I put
them away… I’ve found that this helps keep stuff from embedding in
the next use…

Gary W. Bourbonais


#18
If you haven't tried this yet, go to the hardware store and ask
them for a "file card".  It's a wooden paddle with a handle and
short, stiff, wire bristles with a little bend to them.

Sorry to disagree here but “file card” is a definite no-no. It does
more damage to files than enough and I’m sure it was devised as a
means of selling more files! The correct way to clean files is to use
the copper or brass method which has been described - a small copper
coin is just right for the job. This will keep your files in tip-top
condition for a very long time - I have some files that are thirty
years old and still in almost new condition. File cleaning should be
a regular job as any metal particles in the teeth (‘pinning’) will
cause gouges in your work and, as the teeth become clogged up, you
will be tempted to use more force to remove metal which will lead to
possible slips and breaking the teeth of the file. To help stop metal
sticking in the teeth in the first place, rub over your files with
chalk before use - ordinary blackboard chalk is fine.

Best wishes, Ian - from the home of filemaking, Sheffield, UK

p.s. I will add some info on file cleaning to my filemaking pages at
www.watchman.dsl.pipex.com as soon as I get time…

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#19

I do the same thing except I use a regular file “comb”. Its
stainless also except the wires have a sharp bend right on the end
that imparts a slight "whipping"movement to the wire and whips the
particles out of the teeth on the file. Chalk works great. It helps
keep the teeth from “packing” when using the file on very soft materials.


#20

G’day;

It is mainly the softer metals, like copper, aluminium, soft brass,
etc., which clog files, but even steel does sometimes. In the dim
dismal days (1947) when as part of my certificate in laboratory
skills, I had to do a complete metalworking course, including
screwcutting and milling. But we also had to do filing, and the tutor
insisted that chalk rubbed on a file stopped clogging. It did work to
a certain extent, but I later discovered that oil, well thinned with
kerosine was far better. But then CRC was invented and so was WD40;
a squirt of either over the file stopped all clogging. A different
tutor informed us that the material known as ‘file card’, consisting
of very short steel wires sticking out of a piece of woven linen
material would clean files. A first class toolmaker then told me not
to use it; it blunted the file quickly, and it was he who gave me
some kero-oil mix. But I have found CRC556 or WD40 even better. So
cheap, so simple, no mucking about! The same toolmaker told me not to
waste time trying to sharpen a blunt file, but to use the high carbon
steel to make other tools, and to spend “a few bob” and buy a new
file. The CRC stuff also retards rusting. Finally, to make a file
last longer, always lift it on the back stroke

Cheers for now,
JohnB of Mapua, Nelson NZ