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Tip #170
Tips for using files and rasps

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The following tips will help you get the maximum performance out of your files and rasps while minimizing your risks for injury.

  • Before using a "tanged" file or rasp, always cover the tang with a screw-on or clamp-on file handle to protect your hands from injury. If you don't have a commercially-produced handle, make one from a large diameter dowel or piece of scrap wood. Just bore a hole in the end of your dowel or scrap. Use a bit diameter that approximates the width of the tang half-way up its length and tap the file into position with a hammer or mallet. Be careful not to strike the file too hard as files and rasps are made of brittle steel.
  • It's a good idea to clamp your stock firmly in position before filing
  • Remember that files are designed to cut on the "push" stroke (away from the tang). Dragging the file backwards across your workpiece will only serve to clog the teeth.
  • Files and rasps cut more efficiently and smoothly when they are used at a slight angle to the workpiece
  • Never force a file through the cut. Let the file do the cutting without using excessive pressure.
  • If the teeth clog, use a file card or stiff wire brush to remove the debris. NEVER attempt to burn out the clog with a torch, as files and rasps are made of tempered steel and you could easily destroy the temper

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