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Thread: Sharpening files

  1. #1
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    while sharpening my hand files,I thought it would be of interest to some of the builders, what method I use. If you look at a new file, under light, you will notice that the cutting surface appears matte. If you look at a dull file, you will see an irregular shiny surface.If you examine the cutting areas of the file with a x10 loupe you will see the worn cutting edges. Note that a good pattern makers hand cut file will cost in excess of CDN100..so..
    To sharpen the file it must be absolutely clean of all oil and ANY imbedded cuttings both metal as well as wood. This is the only hard part of the process. I use a very hard needle pointed scribe..sharp..and with the file held under good light and using a x5 or x10 loupe, remove any and all debree.
    Once you are certain all has been removed, scrub the file using detergent and a stiff brass wire brush.Rinse well with hot water a couple of times and allow to dry. Re examine for debree especially metal particles.
    The actual sherpening medium is phosphoric acid. This can be acquired in some of the grocery stores in the form of rust removers..check the label for contents.You can also go to a body shop supply house and purchase their equivilent called metal prep. You don't need a strong solution, 20% is adequate.
    To sharpen, select a plastic zip lock bag of a size that will accomidate the file. Place the file in the bag and add sufficient solution to completly cover the file. Seal the bag and allow the file to remain immersed for approx. 1.5 hrs. Remove and wash in hot water and scrub the file with the stiff brass brush. Examine the cutting surfaces with the x10 loupe. if there are no shiny edges it's done, if they still are visable give it another go, say 1/2 hr. oruntill you are satisfied.
    Once satisfied, wash well with hot water and scrub well to remove the oxide...That's it.I have found that this process leaves me with a file that is sharp or sharper than a new file..attached are three files I did this PM...Give it a shot...Gavin
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  2. #2
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    gavin, vinegar will do the same thing you may have to leave it alittle longer but you get the same results. dt
    Darrell Tubbs 2007dt special#1 f5 DT mando #2 a5 DT mando #3 a5

  3. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Thanks!
    I've tried Coca Cola but it didn't work.

  4. #4
    Registered User Jonathan Peck's Avatar
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    Another option is to send batches off to Boggs Tool.
    And now for today's weather....sunny, with a chance of legs

    "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln

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    You have to sharpen files!? No wonder mine are so useless! Where's my vinegar?

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    Hester Mandolins Gail Hester's Avatar
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    Great tip Gavin, thanks.
    Gail Hester

  7. #7
    Registered User blacksmith's Avatar
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    Eventually the teeth will disappear. Might take a long long time but it will happen. Sharpening of anything means removal of metal and this process is no different, it does not add metal to the teeth. But, as so often heard on this website, if it works for you................
    Eastman 615 #83
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    "Trying is the first step on the road to failure."
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  8. #8
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    You're talking wood?, fine tooth rasps..
    metal if not filed with push only stroke, dulls the teeth them selves knocks off the edges, then you are SOL.

    file card/brush handy?
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  9. #9
    Registered User blacksmith's Avatar
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    Right on, mandroid, well said. Each tooth is like a small, 3-sided pyramid, with the "beefy" side towards you. This beefy side is what withstands the pressure of a push stroke. If you file on the pull stroke, there is nothing to withstand the pressure and tooth curls over. End of file.
    Eastman 615 #83
    Weber Absaroka
    '67 J45
    '07 Larrivee OM-3R

    "Trying is the first step on the road to failure."
    - Homer

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Eventually the teeth will disappear. Might take a long long time but it will happen. Sharpening of anything means removal of metal and this process is no different, it does not add metal to the teeth. But, as so often heard on this website, if it works for you................
    But if the file is dull it's as useless as one with the teeth sharpened away, right? Even if it only works once, you've doubled the life of the file.

  11. #11
    Registered User blacksmith's Avatar
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    Actually, a dull file is quite valuable to me. I stack them along with mild steel and forge weld them to make pattern-welded blades. Recycling, eh?
    Eastman 615 #83
    Weber Absaroka
    '67 J45
    '07 Larrivee OM-3R

    "Trying is the first step on the road to failure."
    - Homer

  12. #12
    Registered User Forrest Mandolins's Avatar
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    I learned a similar technique for sharpening files about forty years ago, from an old blacksmith, using sulphuric acid gleaned from lead-acid batteries. This is not for the faint of heart and requires eye and skin protection. He also taught me ways to keep files sharp by not dragging the file backward during use and keeping the files free of filings by frequent use of a file card. Old files, being made of high carbon content steel, are a great source of metal which I make into scraping, cutting tools and fingerplane irons.



    Blaine

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