Where I teach, the files have always been tossed in a basket. This
distresses me. Especially now, I finally wrangled some new files.
For my own bench, I cut sections of PVC pipe and glued them
together-- had a tough time finding something to work as the bottom,
didn’t like the fumes from the cement.
So, for the classroom, does anybody SELL something to
organize/protect files? In Rio, I only see a holder for needle
files. Any spiffy clever ideas for repurposing something to hold
How about getting one of those long industrial magnetic strips,
nailing it to the wall of the tool crib and slapping the files up
against it? Or, you could adapt a rack for steak knives for your
files, if the slots are wide enough.
Art supply stores sell canvas roll-ups with pockets for holding
paint brushes. I’ve used one for my full sized files and a smaller
one for my needle files, and they work great. They take up little
space since they roll up and tie, and the pockets are deep enough
that the length of the file fits inside with only the tang sticking
out of the pocket. Even the tang is protected when rolled up.
If I recall correctly, you’re in Chicago. AS&S has a store in that
city, and another one in Geneva, IL. (locations are on the web site).
Well worth visiting if you can get there. It’s like a toy store for
So far as I know, nobody’s selling anything specific as a large file
rack. Just too much variation in length and thickness. You can make
your own pretty easily, it depends on whether or not they have
handles on them.
No handles: sew up a couple of tool rolls. I’ve done a bunch of them
over the years out of the legs of dead jeans. One leg becomes the
roll, one leg becomes the flaps/pockets, and you roll it up and tie
it with a shoelace. Not hard to do, just a lot of stopping &
starting. Pictures available if needed.
With handles: get some 2x6 wood, and cut slots into it with a
circular saw or radial arm saw. Do a couple of passes right together
to make a wide groove, and slot them in there. Do a bunch of grooves
on each strip of wood, then you can screw several of these together
into a block to make a “knife block” for files. There are pictures of
this style as the file rack that lives under my frankenbench.
Pictures available towards the bottom heRe:
I took a piece of maple and drilled holes in it, then screwed it
to the top of my bench where the files stand in the block. You can
see the file block on the right side of my bench:
I have to agree with Jeffery.
My file rack is similar to his except that it’s made of metal &
attached to a peg board & holds files up to 15" long.
I have a number of files in my machine shop. My files are stored on
a metal shelf that I drilled holes in for the tangs.When not in use
the files are stored vertically. It’s worked for me for over 20 years
The working surface of the files very seldom contact each other. The
majority of the work done with these files is to steel & the files
cut very well.
The files on my jewelers bench are stored in blocks of wood with
holes drilled in them for the tangs. Some lesser used files are
stored in the plastic cases they came in which prevents the cutting
edges from coming in contact with each other.
I have been using files without handles for 27 years because I can
better “feel” the metal when filing. This technique has produced no
strain on my hands. The only time I’ll use handled files is when I
need extra leverage hogging out material set-up in a vise.
Take some old denim blue jeans, cut off a leg, open the seam ( or cut
lengthwise), fold top of leg toward bottom of leg stopping about 3-4"
short. Lay out your files, and mark to stitch up between them. You’re
making a tool roll. Make a ribbon/tie from another strip of denim to
tie up the whole bundle. Same process works with any material, thin
leather, light canvas, etc. You could make a multi layer with a layer
of batting in between and have a tool roll quilt. You could also take
an appropriately sized block of wood and drill holes to hold the
files (think kitchen counter knife holder).
Noel, collect the cardboard cores of rolls of paper towels, plastic
wrap, etc. Cut them off at some convenient height. Stand them up
inside something like a recycled milk carton with the top cut off
(maybe weighted at the bottom). Cheap, effective, though not
American Science & Surplus sells a wooden test tube rack that
might work if you've got a 6"x8" spot on your bench. Item number
I like it! Wouldn’t you know, I actually just sent them an order 2
days ago! By the way, I ordered a nice-looking set of dividers for 5
or 6 bucks, complete with spare tips. In the Rio catalog, just the
spare tips cost that much.
I have been using files without handles for 27 years because I can
better "feel" the metal when filing. This technique has produced
no strain on my hands. The only time I'll use handled files is when
I need extra leverage hogging out material set-up in a vise.
File handles are absolutely essential for obtaining good results. It
is so important, that I recommend drilling holes for the tangs using
lathe setup. And if one does not have a lathe, it pays to send the
work to a machine shop.
Handle serves 3 primary purposes. For the level filing, it let’s you
know if you filing true, but it only works if tang is dead center. If
file engages surface more on one side than the other, you could feel
it on opposite side of the handle. Handle is an amplifier of any
irregularity that file encounter. The larger the diameter, the more
pronounced the effect. I recommend to use the largest diameter, that
one can manage comfortably.
The same holds true when filing curved surfaces with curvature
direction perpendicular to the file long axis. Handles amplifies
minute rotations of the wrist which are translated to pronounced
movements of the file, and it does minimizes strain. One can easily
convinced oneself of that by trying to drive the same size screw with
large handle screwdriver and a small handle screwdriver for
The “better feel” is achieved not by using files without handles,
but by making sure that files have perfectly straight tangs; handles
drilled dead center and diameter of the hole selected in such a way
that tang is in full contact with the handle. This is more difficult
than may appear, but the closer to ideal, the better the outcome.
Issue of safety is also important. If one loses concentration while
filing, it is conceivably possible to run pointed tang through one’s
forearm. This is not a theory. It does happen.
I took a sheet of copper, folded it with a number of 90 degree bends
and set it on my bench top. I just lay my files in each fold. It keep
them separate and don’t have cutting surfaces contacting each other.
I do know that as I buy more files this will be untenable since I’ll
use up all my benchtop space, but for now it works.
I made myself a large file holder back in college. I used some extra
canvas (yes, I went to art school) and sewed rows of long pockets
for each of the files so just the handles would stick out. I took the
fabric and folded it to the length i needed. Then I sewed from the
fold to the open end in 1 -2" strips to fit the width of the files.
Then you could roll or fold the whole piece up and store it. I still
use it today.
My Precious Studio
uniquely beautiful jewelry design
You guy’s all astound me! You’re all so neat that you don’t have
piles of tools on your benches? I wish I could actually put tools
back where they belong while I’m working, but have never been able to
over-master my lack of discipline…even in my own best interest. I
do periodically put the pliers, cutters, files, foredom bits,
pencils, measuring devices, bit’s of paper, tweezers, etc back where
they belong but only when it’s completely run amok or when the
possibility of someone not used to my working state might actually
see it. My hat’s off to you neatniks, I’m sure your tools love you
I use an upright ice cube maker - one that has cylinders to make ice
‘tubes’ to fit in water bottles. They hold files, mandrels, and other
stuff I want to keep upright. You can find out where to buy them at http://www.icetubes.com/new/products.asp. I found them at “The
You are absolutely correct; nothing ruins a file quicker than
banging into each other. Your idea about the PVC pipe is the way to
go with full size files.
Click the link below to see my “file condo” I whipped up in about an
hour a couple of years ago. I used 12" lengths of 1" PVC (NOT the
Schedule 40 type, use the cheap stuff). On the bottom are three 2"
pipes for larger stuff (it’s hard to see them but these don’t touch
each other on the sides). This setup is also good for ring mandrels
and such. Most of my handles fit in the tube so the file sticks out
and you can see which one you’re grabbing.