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Filing techniques - to touch or lift?


#1

Hi, all

A little while ago Charles L.-B. referred to jewellery art
school students being taught to lift the file after a stroke,
return it to position, and take another stroke as “an art school
technique that isn’t used in the commercial world” (or words to
that effect). Charles went on to say that professional bench
workers keep the file on the work at all times, replacing files
as needed.

I’m curious - Charles, if you have the time can you comment on
what’s best? And I’m really curious about other “art school
techniques” that vary from “professional techniques”.

Anybody else have time to comment?

Thanks Cathryn


#2

Unless I am removing a good deal of metal from the piece (i.e.
cleaning rough castings), I tend to keep a fairly light touch on
my files. This being said, I can’t see any benefit in always
removing the file on the back stroke. .Different strokes

… – Ringold’s Jewelers since 1908 9865 Bustleton Ave/
Phila, PA 19115 215-671-8190 Fax: 215-969-1803
Ringold@IX.netcom.com Http://home.aol.com/REGALITE Manufacturing
/ Mining / Product Development


#3

A little while ago Charles L.-B. referred to jewellery art
school students being taught to lift the file after a stroke,
return it to position, and take another stroke as “an art school
technique that isn’t used in the commercial world” (or words to
that effect). Charles went on to say that professional bench
workers keep the file on the work at all times, replacing files
as needed.

I’m curious - Charles, if you have the time can you comment on
what’s best? And I’m really curious about other “art school
techniques” that vary from “professional techniques”.

Cathryn: my natural inclination without knowing it was to file
back and forth in the beginning but then learned that was
supposedly wrong. There are times when a forward stroke only
seems more appropriate like trying to square a bezel end (which I
don’t do anymore anyway) but most files are pretty cheap like
chinese needle files etc. and I wonder how many of us use
expensive files? I’m not a professional though and if I had some
nice expensive files I’d probably treat them better. I do have
some moderately pricey files and they are nicer to use but mostly
use files under 10 bucks and the Foredom for alot of that
stuff…Dave

Art Jewelry for Conscious People
http://www.opendoor.com/stephensdesign/crystalguy.html


#4

I have always lifted my file at the end of each stroke, I was
taught this by both my father and my Grandfather. My father
works in wood, my Grandfather in metal- whatever. I’ve been told
by both of them that the reason we do this is so we can briefly
examine the piece while we work, to eliminate careless mistakes
from the ratcheting action of filing too much metal away. I
always use Grobet files, I find they are made of a higher grade
steel, and even though all steel grades need to be kept from
moisture, the high carbon steel used in a Grobet, Or Swiss file
tends to stay sharp much longer when working in Platinum or
steel.

Tim Goodwin
@tmn8tr


#5

G’day, Robert et al: I think the idea of lifting the file on
the back stroke originates in the “iron-fighters/engineer’s"
workshop, where they don’t often work in gold or silver. :slight_smile: I
was taught to lift in a machine-shop course I took in 1946, where
for an exam they gave us a lump of 2” steel bar and a lump of
1"steel bar. We had to drill the bigger bit, file the hole
square, cut the 1" bit and file it to slide-fit 6 ways. We were
informed by our teacher that if we were seen rubbing the file on
the back stroke, we would lose marks. Then the woodwork teacher
always made us lift when planing wood. I don’t reckon it is
necessary for gold or silver though, as those metals are not
quite so hard on fine files. But you do get a bit of clogging
with gold and silver - and much clogging when filing aluminium or
even copper and soft brass. Don’t mess with chalking files; I
never found it work well. Before you start, give the file a
squirt of CRC565 (or whatever yourlocal DIY store sells for
freeing rusty nuts) and you’ll have no trouble.

        /\
       / /    John Burgess, 
      / /
     / //\    johnb@ts.co.nz
    / / \ \
   / (___) \
  (_________)

#6

I have always lifted my file at the end of each stroke, I was
taught this by both my father and my Grandfather. My father works
in wood, my Grandfather in metal- whatever. I’ve been told by
both of them that the reason we do this is so we can briefly
examine the piece while we work, to eliminate careless mistakes
from the ratcheting action of filing too much metal away. I
always use Grobet files, I find they are made of a higher grade
steel, and even though all steel grades need to be kept from
moisture, the high carbon steel used in a Grobet, Or Swiss file
tends to stay sharp much longer when working in Platinum or
steel.

That is a very good point- I use files when I want to really
control the amount of metal I’m removing- and to shape and smooth
curved surfaces. I use rotary burs for rough material removal-
and then find myself reaching for my Grobet files to refine the
shape.

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr
http://rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton


#7

Hi Cathryn,

I’ve been away (hundreds of Emails eek). I should not have been
so extreme in the above statement (check the ‘files’ article on
the Tips page for more) because when one is doing very fine final
filing one holds the file rather hard for accurate control and
does lift it off every time to check what you are doing, however,
most professionals keep the file on the work when removing
material rapidly because it is more efficient in time spent and
there is a better contact and tactile understanding of the
surface being filed. There is no pressure on the back stroke when
filing with the file pressed on. Many art school students are
however taught to lift the file off every time (ie perhaps to
check every strokes effect) and end up filing that way which is
slower and offers less control. I believe the real reason they
are taught to do this is that the art school buys and pays for
the files and don’t want their files used up so fast (8 months
or so for an industry approach, 1 1/2 years for an art school
one). But it is at least 30% more efficient in time and effective
material removal in the industry approach, this means that the
cost of replacing the file is nothing compared to the gain in
lower costs in reduced time spent. In North America art school
students are taught to ‘not load the buff’ when polishing. Whan I
am polishing I put tons of compound on and there are timew when I
aholding the compound on at the same time as I am polishing. IT
is the compound that does the work, not the buff. I believe this
too is a result of the art school having to pay for the compound,
they don’t want it used up so quickly, when, again the increased
speed and efficiency of working save far more in costs than
worrying about the amount of compound used.

Another art school one is pickling after every heating. This is
to ‘clean’ the metal. You have to scrape, sand, or otherewise
bare the contact surfaces of a join anyway for a good join, so
pickling does not help you ‘clean’ it for that. Soldering onto an
unscraped pickled finish will not be a strong bond, I’ve seen
such solderings tear right off. If working in gold with a
self-pickling flux a rinse in hot water may be sufficient to
remove all flux so gold workers (using 14k and over) often don’t
have to pickle much if at all. If using a thick paste flux as is
necessary with sterling silver and base metals then you need to
remove the glassy flux residues between solderings because if you
get metal filings stuck in them they may fuse down to the surface
in subsewquent solderings and the hard glass can wear your file
out rapidly. So, what I do is put the object in hot running
water for 30 seconds to remove the flux, sand or scrape for the
next solder join, reflux and go on soldering. Most professionals
don’t poickle unless they need to, this too speeds the working
process. Art school students may spend upt to 40 minutes a day
hanging out waiting for things to pickle and you just can’t
afford that in real life. You pickle at the end of your soldering
sequence, or because it is necessary, or because you need
everything the same color so you can make an aesthetic or design
decision. It is important to analyze a problem, see if it is
making sense to work a certain way and then choose. It is
perfectly all right to say ‘I like that 40 minutes a day because
I get up and move around and take a break’, just make a decision
on it. It if it makes you happy to do something that is not the
most efficient course that is fine, just do it consciously.

Also you may note I teach in an art school and firmly believe in
the value of art schools, it is just that often the teachers have
never had to make their living at it and don’t know these things.
This is happily changing a little as more people who are art
jewelers and also worked in industry are finding jobs teaching in
art schools. Students too (at least here in Canada) are demanding
more real life skills and thinking these days.

Industry has just as many if not more traditions (ways of doing
things) which are not efficient or recheked against current
knowledge for usefulness.

Charles

Brain Press
Box 1624, Ste M, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7, Canada
Tel: 403-263-3955 Fax: 403-283-9053 Email: @Charles_Lewton-Brain

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