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Quality of diamond files, diamond burs

I have an inexpensive set of diamond needle files and I find myself
using them more and more - I like that they cut on both strokes. So I
was thinking about getting some more. This is one of those areas
where the market is flooded with very cheap offerings from China. So
I’m wondering: are all diamond files the same? Or is there some way
to distinguish a quality offering from the rest of the pack? I’d also
like to try some diamond burs for my Foredom, and have essentially
the same questions there.

You can get pretty good ones from China and you can get really
terrible ones, , so far for me it is the luck of the draw. You can
also get really expensive ones from Germany, Switzerland, etc. that
will be good and last for sure. Considering the price the cheap ones
that wear out fast are still a pretty good deal for the money
especially if you are trying things out. On the other hand, good
ones will last a LONG time so you won’t have to be ordering/buying
new ones all the time. I don’t use diamond files much but I do use
diamond burrs and I get them from A Cut Above in S. CA and from a
couple of venders on the net. The old rule of “you get what you pay
for” stands here, at least most of the time.

john dach

Hello Marie,

I have not tried diamond files yet, but they sound interesting!

Thinking about hand files in general, I thought I would mention that
another great category of hand files to try are “escapement files”.
For small hand files I have found escapement files to be very useful,
in the finer 4, 6, and 8 cuts. I find that I reach for them much more
often than for my needle files, which are larger and in the coarser 2
and 4 cuts. The brand name I prefer is Grobet. Curiously, escapement
files do not seem to be quite as readily available as needle files.

An interesting tip that my instructor shared with me able small hand
files, was how to create “safety edges” by polishing areas of hand
files, so that they would not inadvertently/ unwantedly mar an area
adjacent to where one was filing.

For example:

Barrette file- polish/ round off the top “spine”, at the tip, as
well as the side edges (protruding flare of teeth only) at the very
tip. This allows one to file without the top spine and side/ edge of
the teeth cutting/ marring where one does not want.

Square file- polish one side/ face (remove the teeth). This allows
one to file a side and a corner without filing the bottom.

I used polishing rubber wheels on a flex shaft to do this, very
careful not to over polish edges where I wanted to retain crisp file
teeth edge.

As my assortment of/ investment in hand file sets as slowly grown, I
have discovered a relatively inexpensive ($5-7 at Michaels craft
store, if I recall)) way to store, protect, and travel to classes
with them, using canvas fabric paint brush “roll-up” cases. This
prevents the files from making “tool steel upon tools steel” contact
with each other, helping to preserve the cutting edges.

Just a few little tips I thought I would pass forward today.

Best Regards,

Thanks for the tips, Julie! I know that when you try the diamond
files you’ll love them. I have a relatively inexpensive set of
diamond needle files from Harbor Freight and they are my go- to
files. And the tip about the canvas paintbrush roll-up case was a
very good idea. I have been storing my diamond files in the
compartmented plastic sleeve they came in, but it’s wearing out and I
was looking for another solution.

Janet Kofoed

Hi Marie, I thought there would be more answers for you by some of
the others out there that use diamond. I think most people use
diamond for lapidary work, which is probably why you didn’t get a
more informative answer. John’s post while general is obviously
correct, “you get what you pay for”. The burs out there are widely
different in quality. Find Mountain Mist diamond burs (should be
able to Google, I can’t remember the address), and you will get a
better idea of the cost of QUALITY SINTERED diamond burs. If the
difference has not been made clear to you, sintered is diamond in a
matrix that makes up the whole head of the bur, and can be dressed
and used continuously until the head (whatever shape) is gone. The
files and cheaper burs are diamond plated onto the shape of the bur
or file, and can wear off quickly depending how cheaply the tool was

Many plated diamond tools are well made and when used appropriately
can last a good while. Pay attention to the grits. Even the cheaper
burs are made in several grits. You start with the coarser grits and
work your way to the finer grits, as with any abrasive tool. Do that
religiously, and you will at least double the life of the cheapest

Most suppliers of lapidary/jewelry tools offer both plated and
sintered bits. Kingsley North, Diamond Pacific, Covington, as
examples. These companies all have toll free numbers, and will
usually send paper catalogs free of charge, along with downloadable
PDF catalogs. Some of them also sell diamond powder which can be used
to make your own grits in paste. Now we are crossing over into the
lapidary field, so I have no idea what applications paste might have
in the metal world. I would be pleased to see if anyone has explored
that to any good results. There is much good literature out there on
using diamond as an abrasive. I hope I have made things clearer, as
opposed to muddying up the waters. If you have more questions, you
are welcome to ask offline. Thomas III