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Tip #169
Understanding Files & Rasps

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Files and rasps play a vital role in shaping and smoothing many different types of projects. Without them, some jobs would be very difficult to complete. Let's take a look at the different types of files and rasps that are available today.

Shapes Files and rasps come in a variety of shapes for specific applications. These include the following:

Flat A rectangular shape that is typically wider than it is thick
Half-Round Flat on the bottom with a semi-circular, top surface
Triangular A three-sided model, usually with three equal width sides
Square Usually four equal width sides, often tapering to a point
Rat-Tail Round shaped, usually tapering to a point

Tooth Pattern All files have Teeth that are cut into the steel (typically at an angle that's 65° to 85° across the width of the file). It's these Teeth that do the job of material removal.

Files with rows of parallel Teeth are called Single Cut files. These are the best choice for smoothing wood and for most metal-working applications.

Files with diagonal, crisscrossed Teeth are called Double Cut files. They're best for more rapid removal of metal or wood.

Files that are made with hundreds of individual, pyramid-shaped Teeth are called rasps. These are used exclusively for wood and soft materials. The Teeth on rasps can either be machine-stitched or hand-stitched.

Machine-stitched rasps are made by machinery and feature even, geometrically-shaped teeth. They're less costly than hand-stitched rasps, but won't produce as smooth a cut as a hand-stitched rasp.

Hand-stitched rasps feature hand-formed Teeth that are randomly located. As a result, they will produce a much smoother cut without chattering and can be quite costly.

No matter which type of file or rasp you're talking about, the closer the cutting Teeth are together on a file or rasp, the smoother the cut.

Next Week: How to use Files & Rasps properly

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