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Any difference between a 'riffler' file and a 'needle' file?

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I keep seeing these terms but cannot really tell the difference.  When I look at pictures the only thing that jumps out at me is tht the rifflers seem to have the curved tips while needle files are flat and straight.  Is that the major difference?


While I'm at it, are the typical files found in the hobby shops and on line (such as Micro Mark) the same as "jewelers" files?  The files I have are about 1.5 - 2.0 mm thick.  I would like to have some that are much thinner -- maybe like 1 mm thick (not wide, but thick).  I'd like to be able to use the edge of a file this thick to file grooves.  For example, the grooves or slots in channels that will fit a .8 or 1.0mm wire rod chain.  Should I be looking for jewelers files?  Most of the specs given for any file do not include the thickness of the file.  As an alternative to a thin file like this I've glued two razor saws together to make the desired thickness (kerf if you will) and that worked pretty well.

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Generally speaking, the files that you buy from a jewellery supply house are much higher quality that hobby shop files, but will cost you a lot more money.




And in my opinion, having used both, they are worth every penny.

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Hardly describes me, spyglass.  I go in fits and starts regarding order.  Every couple months I clean up the work shop and put things in there 'proper' place.  Trouble is I think I'm finding better places for things so my organization changes.  Then I forget where the tool or material or part has been stored.  Takes more time to find things than if I'd left well enough alone.


Do you ever, and if so how often, do you use a file brush?  I don't own one so Ive never really cleaned any of my 2 sets of files.  I'm going to invest in a brush and see if I can get better results from the files after cleaning.  If not I may opt for something of greater quality than the Chinese sets for $12.

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Al, I have used a file brush before on larger files. Works well for cleaning, especially really soft woods like pine or balsa that trend to gum up the teeth in the file. Haven't used one on my smaller files as I don't use them often enough

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Never have seen a file card, 'Brush', for needle files or riflers, perhaps a small hand wire brush would work for small files. Have a couple for use on files 10" long or longer, work best if the file is chocked prior to using it, keeps small filings from being bottomed and held in the groves between the teeth. Filing away from the handle and then lifting the file for the return stroke will keep a file clean and sharp, if used on the material it was designed for. Have some old books, purchased from Lindsey Publishing, describing how blacksmiths made and hardened their own files.


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How the heck do you sharpen a file, especially needle files? :huh:


I store my files in holders to keep the teeth from dulling, like Bill advises, and clean them with a file card before use. Once they get dull, it's time for new files.


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Great replies everyone to my original post.  I can see the point that a ordinary file card from Home Depot would have larger wire than the needle file would have groves.  It would hardly penetrate to clean out debris.  I've heard the same thing from various sources that once dulled, its time for a new set with these cheapos, but while they are sharp they're quite workable.  I do keep mine separate.  Those with no handles I stick into the holes of an old spice jar (I think it must have been for cloves or something cause the holes will fit the tangs), and for those that came with handles, they came in a plastic thingy and I just put them back into their slots.  So at least on that score I'm covering myself.  Question then remains how long have I had these and how much use have they gotten on what materials -- and therefore are they dull enough to discard or is it just the way I'm using them.  One lesson I have learned and picked up from posts here is that I should probably maintain two sets of files; one for wood and another for metal (mostly brass).  I've been unaware of which ones I use for which.  Just pick the one that happens to be closer and has the right shape.

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NEVER use a steel scratch card to clean files,it buggers the teeth. As Brian says use a fine hard brass brush,a well cut down paint brush will also deal with wood dust in the teeth. I drilled holes in a piece of timber which keeps all my Swiss files separate from each other and to hand. They are too expensive to just leave lying around on the bench or in a drawer My other files are kept in compartmented wallets.


Dave :dancetl6:

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You may not be able to afford Vallorbe files, but their information is free: http://www.vallorbe.com/


Just to sort out the different types of files:


Needle files - fine, general purpose files that typically come in a couple of size classes, one is about 15 to 18 cm long and the other about 10 to 12 cm.


Riffler files - designed for die- and tool-makers; they are usually about 18 cm long, but have two different heads at each end; they come in a wide variety of shapes (one even looking like a pig's tail) in order to be able to work on the most impossibly shaped object.


Riffler rasps - these are designed for wood-work and in consequence have single teeth, rather than rows, as for a file; otherwise, they are similar to riffler files.


Echappement files - the name indicates that they are meant to work on 'echappements' or 'escapements' in English, i.e. the part that times a clock-work (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escapement); some of them may look like riffler files, but their heads are smaller and in consequence their cut is finer.


Then there is a wide variety of specialist files, such as the already mentioned screw-slot files, which are thin strips of steel with a cut at the thin end, machine files, which are straight along the whole length and not tapered, as most hand-files, etc. etc.


BTW, the absolute fineness or coarseness of a file depends on its size, meaning that the same 'number' of a cut actually has more teeth per length unit in a smaller file than in a bigger one. Numbers also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.



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