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Cleaning needle files

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I think a lot of us have already encountered this problem ...

The needle files look a bit rusty and are in need to be cleaned.


Can I do this with some machine oil ?

If yes, will the oil not stain the wood afterwards ?

If no, what are the experts and masters among us, use for that purpose ?


Happy modelling !

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The easiest way to clean a file is to use a piece of brass.  Push the end of a brass rod along the teeth of the file (i.e. shortways across the file not along the length of the whole file) so that the brass pushes any dirt along and out from between the teeth of the file.  The brass rod will soon form to the shape of the teeth and a few "pushes" throughout the length of the file will soon have it clean.


Any light rusting will also be pushed out of the way.  Heavy rusting can be removed by soaking the file in acid (try dilute citric acid which is safe and can be obtained form the chemist as crystals) followed by rinsing in running water and drying with warm air (maybe a hair dryer?).  Don't oil the file as the oil will transfer to the wood and stain it.

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  • 7 years later...

What is the microwave-oven supposed to do? It doesn't do anything to metal swarf and won't burn away wood.


There are special file brushes made from stiff brass wire, but as captainbob observed, they don't really work on the fine cuts of files, the diameter of the wires being larger than the teeth are wide.


Don't even think of using acid on a file, that would be the death of it. You can soak it in (used) tea-leaves for a while to remove rust. Make sure to dry it quickly with a hair-dryer afterwards.


Files shouldn't really be used on wood, this actually dulls the teeth. Rasps are for wood. Or diamond files. Of course, sometimes one has no choice, when cutting narrow slots and the likes. Remove the mass of the material with a saw and only use the file to create crisp edges. Professionals would keep different sets of files for different types of material.


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I have used those small brushes designed to clean suede shoes (aka Hush Puppies) with some success.  The finer wire bristles fit better than the coarse bristles in typical wire brushes.  For the more stubborn areas I use an old scalpel/X-Acto blade and scrape out each individual 'row' between the cutting ridges with the tip of the blade.  It is somewhat time consuming, but once you get a feel, it is surprising how fast you can clean the file.





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In the past I have had good cleaning results with the rubber like gum eraser used by artists. It really grabs stuff in the teeth be it wood; brass or resin. The coarser one at the bottom worked best, but that also depends on the size of the teeth.




Edited by xken
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