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Files, Rasps and their Makers


Things worth Knowing About Files and Rasps by E. H. Darville, 1916

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The purposes for which files and rasps may be used are legion, yet the principal file makers are prepared to make, in addition to regular goods, anything in steel files for use in any industry, regardless of shape, cut, grade of steel or temper, provided the sizes of the orders warrant.

The representative manufacturers make hundreds of kinds of regular files, and several thousand when special files are included. The kinds best known embrace mill, fiat, hand, square, round, half round and three square, with flat, half-round and cabinet rasps, horse and shoemakers’ rasps. The term “flat-file” is not given because it is flat, but particularizes a type of file, as mill, flat and hand files are all in appearance fiat files.

Machine Cut Files Most Largely Used

Manufacturers of machine-cut files say that finer quality files are now made by machinery than it is possible to make by hand, some of which, machine made for special purposes, have more than 180 teeth to the inch, with cuts scarcely discernible to the naked eye. Hand-cut files are still made, and are sometimes preferred without regard to cost, and undoubtedly possess advantages. People often wonder how a file cutter manages to space the numerous grades of hand-cut files so uniformly with hammer and chisel, guided only by the eye.

Actually, when cutting by hand the workman is guided not so much by sight as by the “feel with chisel and weight of hammer.

Types, Forms and Purposes of Files

“Flat files” taper from near the center to point, are narrow and slimmer at the point, and double-cut on the side with edges single-cut. Flat files are commonly used by mechanics on coarse and rough work.

“Hand files" are made from a heavier blank than flat files, tapering in thickness from the center to point; are parallel in width and double-cut on sides, one edge single cut and the other edge “safe” (no teeth), so that the file is usable in corners without filing both sides of the angle. They are made in the same cuts as flat files, and are used by machinists and engineers for finishing flat surfaces.

“Square files" are forged taper. Some are made the same size from heel to point, or blunt, and known as “square gulletting" files, single-cut on four faces. These are used where other files are impossible on account of their width, i.e., for filing apertures, dressing out square corners, etc.

“Half-round files” taper from near center to point, are double-cut on the round and flat sides, and are used for general machine shop work.

“Mill files" taper from near center to point; are thinner and narrower at point; some are made with one and others with two round edges, single-cut on the sides and edges. This type is commonly used for filing mill saws, sharpening planer knives, mowing and reaping machine cutters, and for certain kinds of mechanical work such as draw-filing, lathe work, etc. Their chisel teeth leave a comparatively smooth surface, which double-cut point teeth do not, although the double-cut point teeth out faster. A few mill files are double-cut.

‘Round files" are usually tapered, and owing to their form are frequently referred to as rat-tail files, though some are made of uniform size from heel to point and are single-cut. Round files are used mainly for gulletting, enlarging holes, etc.

“Three-square files" are made from three-cornered steel, usually tapered, double-cut on all three sides. The edges are uncut and left very sharp. Occasionally they are made single-cut, also blunt or parallel, and are particularly serviceable for cleaning out sharp angles and square corners, filing cutters, taps, etc.

“Taper saw files" are likewise made of three-cornered steel, usually are forged tapering, but differ from the three-square file in that they are smaller, generally single-cut, have teeth on the edges as well as sides, and are not cut quite to the point. They are also manufactured double-cut as well as blunt or parallel.

"Tapers" are used for filing band saws and all small saws. The double-cut tapers having point teeth, file faster than the single-cut, but the latter having chisel teeth file smoother.

Some tapers are tapering at both ends without tang for handle, are single-cut at both ends, which makes two files in one piece. These are termed “double end” or “reversible tapers." Taper files are really divided into three classes: the regular taper file, the slim taper and the extra slim taper.

The slim taper file is of the same general shape as the regular taper, but is made of a smaller section of steel for the same length. They are preferred by many on account of the greater sweep of stroke obtained from the same thickness of file, and for this reason, in fact, they are taking, to a great extent, the place of regular taper files.

The slim taper file is particularly adapted for filing fine tooth saws. A file similar to the slim taper file, but made on more slender lines, is the extra slim taper referred to above.

“Knife files” are tapered and resemble in shape the blade of a pocket knife; they are double-cut and used for filing the inner angles of the sear, main springs of gunlocks, and works of similar shape.

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