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In this post we look at metal files. The Crescent Nicholson five piece file set receives our top ranking offering the best overall features at a reasonable price. Read below for tips and considerations, overall rankings, and further resources.
Considerations and Tips
- Two files from manufactures may appear the same from a distance but their performance can vary drastically. Quality differences can result in inferior strength and/or inconsistent teething which can lead to broken files and ineffective filing.
- Files come in lengths commonly ranging from six inches to ten inches. The downside to a longer file is that it can be more prone to breaking if excessive or uneven force is applied to it (especially true if the file is of poorer quality). The upside to a longer file is that you are able to file more material quickly and for bigger pieces are able to file more uniformly.
- Files come in different shapes. The two shapes you should get first are the flat and half-round designs. Other shapes that may come into play for you are circular and triangular.
- Files can be single cut or double cut. A single cut file typically removes less material and is applied with less pressure leaving a smoother finished edge. The double cut allows more material to be removed and can be applied with greater pressure. Both cuts can come in handy.
- Files have different coarseness. There is Bastard, Mill Bastard, and Mill amongst others. A Mill Bastard is good for general purpoase and a Mill is good if you plan on doing more finishing work.
- Recall the saying, “they don’t build them like the used to.” If you shop garage sales or other used markets, keep your eye out for used, quality files. A little surface rust is ok. The tools should have a good heft, remain straight and true, and the teeth should still have some bite on them.
- Keep in mind the handle of your files. A good handle will give you greater control of your filing, it will provide more comfort, and perhaps most importantly it can keep you safe from impaling yourself. We recommend files with permanently attached handles.
- To keep your file in good working condition, get a file card / brush like the Crescent Nicholson model below to keep the file clean of removed material.
Crescent Nicholson is our top choice for files. They are of the highest quality and are backed by a lifetime warranty. The five piece assortment probably covers all the filing territory you’ll likely encounter and includes lengths of 8″ and 10″. If you are looking for something more, check out the nine-piece set. You can buy a single file cheaper, but this set is a solid value for five great files.
These Workpro files are sold individually. They are 10″ long and come with decent handles. They are of medium quality but if you just need one flat or half-round file look no further.
The Ycammin files come with a lifetime warranty and are 8″ long. Their steel has a hardness of HRC 65 which is pretty good. The rubber handles should provide a solid but comfortable grip. Not quite the same as the Crescent Nicholson but they are more affordable.
The Asnomy is similar to the Ycammin but features a less strong steel at hardness of HRC 62. They are 8″ long, feature integral handles, and have a lifetime warrant. If this is your budget for a set of files, look no further.
Amazon’s offering is reasonable if you need normal size files and smaller files. The steel quality is nothing special but the handles are decent. I would only look here if you want normal and small size files at bargain price.
The Libration set is very similar to the Amazon set but has a 1 year warranty and less files. You should probably go the Amazon route if you are thinking about this.
The Mercer set is at the bottom of our list. The quality is just not there and you can do better for the price.
If you are looking for more information about files, check out the resources below.
I highly recommend the Guide to Files and Filing by Crescent Nicholson.
Watch this vintage YouTube video to learn basics of filing.
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