File revitalization

Can you bring a file back to life? Maybe with acid?

Thanks, Warren

Can you bring a file back to life? Maybe with acid? 

Depends, if the teeth are worn away, then you can forge it into
something else, like a knife, or a tool (probably too brittle for a

If the teeth are just clogged a nice stiff wire brush can do
wonders. A detergent bath can be helpful.

Regards Charles A.

Can you bring a file back to life? Maybe with acid? 

It depends on how badly it is abused but yes there is even a company
that will “sharpen” your old files and burs with a proprietary acid

I have used nitric acid to do the job but hydrochloric or sulfuric
will also work. The cost of acids are not inexpensive and if you
have to have it shipped the hazmat charges are typically more than
the acid itself. If you are not used to working with acids and dont
already have some on hand I would suggest just buying a new file

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Charles,…in fact, old worn out files make superb stock for making
punches and stamps. If you can fine the Oscar Branson book on Indian
Jewelry, he has an excellent tutorial with pictures there.
Essentially, you break the file into convenient lengths, anneal it
by heating to red and cooling very slowly (I use clean sand), carve,
file, grind or etch your intended design and then heat harden and
temper to a working hardness.

I have stamps I made a long time ago and they are as good as new.
Cheers from Don in SOFL

I wrote a blog post about it, sort of:

That assumes you’re talking about a large-toothed file. Needle files
in particular would be impossible to repair that way. Otherwise, it
depends on what has ruined them. If they’re rusty, removing the rust
will probably take the sharp edges off the teeth. If they are just
caked up with wax and filing, the ultrasonic and the steamer do quite
a good job, so long as you wipe and oil them afterwards. Sometimes,
just giving them a regular rub with a steel brush will keep them in
good nick.


Unless the file is a specially made file, I don’t see the necessity
of resharpening files.

Files are a consumable, just like saw blades. The time spent &
materials used to resharpen the file will exceed the cost of
replacing the file.

The trick to prolonging file life is proper use & care. Use a file
card to clean the teeth if they get gung in them. If that won’t work
use a scriber to push the stuff out.

When storing the files store them sot the file teeth don’t bump into
the teeth of another file. Usually storing them vertically in a piece
of wood with holes drilled in it to fit the tangs of the files works


Warren-- An old time trick I learned from a watchmaker is to use
oxalic acid-- soak the file in a dilute solution. I don’t remember
the exact proportions or time, so experiment and go slow. The acid
acutually eats away some of the file as well as the rust and crud,
which resharpens it.