File Basics: How to select and use files for metalworking

A file is one of the most useful tools you can have in a workshop, but they’re rarely fully understood and appreciated in our modern mechanized age.

Files have been around for over three thousand years, and before machine tools became available they were one of the primary means of making precision objects!

In this video I show the basic types of files, the differences between them, and how to use them.

Here is a nice set of files to get started with:

Make sure to get a file card for cleaning your files:

I also highly recommend a sturdy vise when using files:

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20 thoughts on “File Basics: How to select and use files for metalworking

  1. Great video. I just started working with sheet metal and aluminum for guitar pickguards and wanted a basic explanation of files for metal work. This vid was perfect. Have you considered graphite powder instead of oil or chalk to prevent loading? I've been using oil like most have said, but then you said chalk, and I was thinking maybe graphite could give the protection of chalk, but the cooling of oil. I've also seen people suggest transmission fluid.

  2. why the heck are you not on the History channel? This channel and the wisdom you share is amazing, (thank you for sharing that with us by the way). It's better than watching the Discovery Channel.

  3. I know you probably use a double cut for the jig, but what file would you suggest to use for Draw filing after the bevel is made?

  4. Very helpful video! To cut a soft, unremovable, corroded metal spud stuck in a 2"-tub drain, should I use a cut-triangle or cut-round file? Thank you

  5. @Gough Custom, does it make any difference when using a file if your left handed because of the angle of the cut on the file?

  6. on your filing jig do you use the rough cut bastard file and then finish with one of the fine files?

  7. thanks for the good vids. I like small 3 inch or less knives and as such suspect that a belt grinder is less necessary then it might be foe large 8-12 inch blades and thus filing will be a more acceptable method for small knives. Can you make any recommendations as to steel types that might work better with files then other steel types? Maybe 440c or 01 or such like?
    I see so many different steel names.

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