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The mechanics of files

Can anyone expalin me the cutting action of files. Why is the
orientation of the teeth zigzag (in most cases) How are files
manufactured?

Regards
rahul rampuria
India

Can anyone expalin me the cutting action of files. Why is the
orientation of the teeth zigzag (in most cases) How are files
manufactured? 

Hello Rahul,

You might be interested in this article which briefly discussed file
making in the UK in the late 1900s

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/work/england/south_yorkshire/user_1_article_1.shtml).

To make a long story short the filemaker of old would use chisels to
cut each ‘tooth’ or cut in the file. In “double” or “cross-cut” files
there are criss-crossed cuts in the file to increase the
aggressiveness of the cutting action. “Single” cut files cut slower
and are generally used for finishing work. Needless to say (almost)
all of this is done by machine these days.

One exception to machine made is fine quality rasps --the teeth on a
rasp are cut with a punch whereas file teeth are cut with a chisel–
which are used in woodwork, stone sculpture and patternmaking. I have
two of these hand made rasps and they are MUCH superior tools to
their machine-made counterparts in almost every way but of course they
cost 10 times as much. I don’t know if the same would apply to
hand-made files but I suspect not.

You asked another question elsewhere about workbenches. Suffice it to
say that there is a LOT of tradition surrounding jewellers benches
and that tends to dictate how they appear and are used. I’ve seen a
number of non-traditional benches --for instance, my own bench is
collapsible and portable-- and the bottom line seems to be that if a
particular bench style works well for you then it is “a good bench”.
The Western habit of assuming that the way we do it is better is often
misguided and that’s especially true in this case. Different cultures
have different tools, different work methods and, no surprise,
different workbenches to accommodate them. The best advice anyone can
follow with things like this is “try it” and if it’s better for you
then it is better. If not … there you go.

One thing I will say about home made workbenches is that they are
usually quite easy to modify and because they are often made from
inexpensive materials one need not hesitate (much) in changing them to
suit your own purposes. I’ve chopped my bench down, repositioned the
legs, drilled big holes in it to accommodate specific tools, etc. My
bench is quite possibly the ugliest jeweller’s bench there ever was
but it works well for me, the work I do and the way I do it. In the
end that’s what really matters.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light

Hi Rahul,

This is a BIG questions and likely you may either get a lot of
replies or very few (as people hide from the question).

For starters, the pattern on the face of the file is not standard,
you have various levels of files from rasp, bastard, mill, one cut,
two cut, three cut, four cut etc…

A criss-cross pattern can enable smoother filing.

The way that a file works is much like lot of little (wood) planes.
They slice a fine sliver off the top of the metal.

This is really a very complex field and once you start talking about
the right amount of pressure and galling and drawfiling etc it is
enough to fill a book.

Actually, I know someone writing a book on it at the moment… I
think that the book will be more focused on steels, but the theory
is much the same.

Good luck with this though

Cam

   You might be interested in this article which briefly discussed
file making in the UK in the late 1900s 

And you can look at the filemaking pages on my website at
http://www.watchman.dsl.pipex.com/filemaking/index.html

Ian
Ian W.Wright
Sheffield UK

    And you can look at the filemaking pages on my website at
http://www.watchman.dsl.pipex.com/filemaking/index.html 

Very informative Ian, thank you for all your efforts on those pages.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light

       You might be interested in this article which briefly
discussed file making in the UK in the late 1900s 

Thanks Ian, I did find it most interesting. Being fairly
ambidextrous, I often switch hands with most hand tools as I work,
but never quite got the hang of getting a file to work very well in
my left hand. The description of “rowing” on your page there
illustrated just why that is.

I also enjoyed the photos of Oliver and your family. Little Oliver
makes the most adorable tuba “mute” I’ve ever seen!

James in SoFl