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Joshua States

Questions for the file masters

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American or Swiss pattern? Why?

 

Pferd, Grobet, Simonds, or Other? Why?

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As a long-time dedicated file user (I wouldn't say master), American pattern and USA-made Nicholson, then USA-made Simonds.  Why?  That's what I learned with, and I have a supply of them.  Are they better than Swiss pattern? No.  Just what I'm used to.  

 

Grobet has stopped making the larger sizes, and moved production of anything bigger than a needle file to India.  If I ever go to Swiss pattern files, I'll probably go with Glardon-Vallorbe.  

 

I have heard good things about Pferd, but have never used one. Also Bahco (formerly Sandvik).  

 

The next time I need to replace the big 16" Nicholsons, assuming I can no longer find NOS USA-made, I may go for this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000ZELWAS/ref=biss_dp_t_asn

 

and for the six-inchers, maybe these guys: http://www.warrensvillefile.com/index.php/american-pattern/engineer-s-files/mill-file.html.  I have two 14" long-angle lathe files by them, currently 20 years old and still good. They do offer North American made (?) or foreign, but don't say where in North America, which worries me.  Mexico is part of North America, after all, and they couldn't harden a Nicholson to save their lives.  As I've said before, my USA Nicholsons can cut some of my Mexico Nicholsons like mild steel.  Then there's these guys: https://www.mercerindustries.com/products/hand-files/.  I have no clue about the quality.

 

Anybody else?  I'm sure y'all are tired of hearing me talk about files. 

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I have a lot of files.  That's not a good thing, because when it comes to hand filing things I'm like a Tasmanian Devil and just destroy everything.  Hate to admit that because as a professional (retired) wood worker, you'd think I'd be a real expert with files.  Not the case for me.  I just never needed them enough to go to the trouble to learn how to use them properly.  I do MUCH better with a blade, so all my final finish fitting was done by blade.  Now that I'm working in steel, I haven't found a blade that would cut the steel I'm working on.  GO FIGGER!?!?!  :lol:

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27 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

I'm sure y'all are tired of hearing me talk about files. 

I'm not tired of that in the least.

What i am tired of is searching a million posts for different information and opinions.

Now I can follow this one and always have easy access to it........

  • Thanks 1

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I agree with that, I definitely like having all the info in one place rather than multiple threads. 

 

Gonna divert a little bit from the main thread for a moment. Hope nobody minds. :D  Anyone got an idea where I can find a NOS 16" Nicholson? Been looking on eBay every couple of days but I cant find anything yet.

Edited by Conner Michaux

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Talking files, I have some Bahco files. When I get a chance to use them I'll let y'all know.

Also,  I keep my eyes open for files everywhere I go. I found a couple dozen in my Dads old shop that hurricane Ivan tried to level. They were in his tool locker thrown in a bin on top of each other. A few in an old tool box with lots of rust. I'm in the process of cleaning them up now. Some are in great shape and others we'll have to see. Some are U.S.A. Nicholson, some say India. The good ones will be files, the good ones that are beyond help will be knives and imports will be hooks. :lol:  I'm going to try acid sharpening on the ones that are dull. I got some sulfuric acid last week. Let me know if anyone has tried this and your thoughts.

There were a couple I don't know about. No name, just a horse jumping through a hoop. Ever see one of these?

Lastly, there is one Nicholson that the teeth are on a very steep angle. First one I have seen. Looks like it would be great for draw filing.

I've been reading "THE FILE" on Google books. It's a great book if you want to know more about files.

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The horse logo is Pferd, which means "horse" in German. 

The Nicholson with the steeply angled teeth is a long-angle lathe file.  It is designed for filing stuff in a lathe (big surprise!), but is great for heavy stock removal.  They can be a little aggressive for drawfiling, try it on some scrap first.  The safe edges on them are great for creating plunge cuts, because they have a bit of radius to them.  When I grind a safe edge on a regular file I leave it sharp to get a good line, but that's just for hawk heads and things that need a sharply defined step.

 

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That's it. I have a number of those that need some cleanup. Thanks Alan.

 

How do you feel about acid sharpening?

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18 hours ago, Conner Michaux said:

Anyone got an idea where I can find a NOS 16" Nicholson?

 

Keep watching the net. One will surface sooner or later. Any flea markets close by?

I saw some 14" NOS. They're more readily available.

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What Randy said about the 16" ones.  Just keep an eye out.  And look at every hardware and farm store you pass, they may have some, especially the further from civilization they are.  

 

As for acid sharpening, I've never done it, but I've heard mixed reviews about doing it at home.  These guys: https://boggstool.com/ are legendary for file and other tool sharpening.  Mills, drills, files, etc.  They don't say exactly what they do, but it involves steam cleaning and some kind of abrasive blasting in addition to an acid bath.  

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I've done acid sharpening.  Meh!  Some files it seemed to "rescue" a little bit..............others not so much.  Nothing equals a new file's sharpness.  Would you expect a knife edge to have increased sharpness when soaking it in Muratic Acid?  I sure wouldn't.

 

My attitude is........if your files no longer cut, what have  ya got to lose?  Give it a try.  Like I said, it "seemed" to rescue some of them.

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On 1/10/2020 at 12:46 PM, Joshua States said:

I'm not tired of that in the least.

What i am tired of is searching a million posts for different information and opinions.

Now I can follow this one and always have easy access to it........

Yeah, what he said!:)  Consider this thread bookmarked. 

Edited by billyO

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i am very happy with my little 4" mercer file, and i keep telling myself ill get some larger ones, but there are always other things i need to buy. 

 

i would still recommend them to other people, im sure their 10" files are as good as the little ones and they are very affordable. 

 

https://www.empireabrasives.com/metal-hand-files/ i got mine from here

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What about Bellota files? Texas Farrier Supply is close to me, and they seem to be well priced, but I haven't pulled the trigger on them yet. 

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Their rasps are good, but I've never seen their files.  A quick look online shows they're too small for what I usually want, though.  Their largest flat file is only about 12" of teeth.  That would be fine for small blades, of course.  I notice they claim they are unbreakable and will never wear out (https://www.bellota.com/en-es/workshop/files-and-rasps#files-and-rasps).  Challenge accepted! :rolleyes:

  • Haha 1

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I probably have 200 files.

Cheap needle files for wood or when I know I am filing something too hard.

High quality needle files in several cuts for filing and polishing non-ferrous stuff.

High quality for hardened and tempered steel. I have to do that sometimes, so I keep some that I use for this and then discard sooner. Grobet and Vallorbe. The extra-hard Vallorbe aren't really that great. 

 

New-Old-Stock and McMaster are the two best ways to get files. I suggest iwasaki carfiles and/or milled tooth files for wood, copper, and brass. They don't really load and last forever with these. They are the step after rasps in woodworking. The files through Mcmaster are thicker and sturdier than the same brand from Amazon or a box store. 

 

 

I have both an Aruiou hand-stitched rasp and a collection of smaller rasps made by the high-tech method. They are all great at different parts of making scabbards. The small rasps actually have one side with rasp teeth and one side with milled teeth with chip breakers like the carfiles. These are awesome tools for adjusting lines on a scabbard with bevels. Some of the Asian ones were mostly hexagons with longer flat sides. Lot of lines to keep straight.

 

get the coarsest half-rounds you can find from the NOS world. 

Bahco makes great files for smooth single cuts.

Lathe files are great.

I treat files as consumables because I file tempered steel with vanadium carbides in it. So, I go through a lot. I just take them and use them to make my own shop tools when they are dead. You can make just about any sort of chisel or punch or graver from an old file, and you will have a very good tool. My best saya-making chisels are all old Nicholsons from the 70s. 

 

Keep your files clean, use short strokes, use the whole file, and drawfile after you pushfile. Single cut are better for this because of the finish. 

 

sorry for posting on old thread. 

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i ended up getting a 14" flat file and a 10" bastard file of the mercer brand from empire abrasives, they are just as good as the smaller one, both made in india. i also got a 6" flat file which was marked china but ive mostly been using it on wood so i cant say much about it, seems to be the same quality but i havent used it on much steel.

 

it cost me about $45 shipped for the three files, i get buyers remorse pretty bad if i dont like something, but im happy with the mercer files. 

 

empire abrasives did a terrible packing job, the files were loose in a big box with a bit of brown paper on top of them, the 14" file was sticking 6" out of the box when it arrived. i havent found anywhere else other than amazon to buy the mercer brand files, i would not buy tools from amazon unless i wanted cheap junk though, you dont really know what youre getting from amazon, they carry cheaper versions of brands you might find at an industrial/tool/hobby shop just as kevin said above this post.

 

 

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Files a consumables. 

Over the years I have used 100's bladesmithing and blacksmithing..   I prefer hand work over "machinery".. 

As a Farrier I have used thousands.  I go thru 2 a week.  I started with Saveedge, moved on and off with Bellota. tried Preferd and now use Heller classic..  

It's intesesting that horse rasps over the last 30 years have gotten softer and many now I just case hardened. 

As for files I bought an off brand. SWBT  and it was stellar for longevity. 

the fact is, today files just like many things are not as durable and certainly don't last as long (sometimes just a few strokes)..  

So, the answer for me today is just buy 3 or 4 new ones when they have a sale and then when dull or start clogging all the time.. Just throw them in scrap.  

It's not ideal, but it is the state of business today..  Unless something changes and brings production back to the USA we are in a time frame of diminished returned for hand type tools. 

I don't bother buying used files unless I find a really old one and want it for metal..  But, for the work I do I want a nice sharp file and living with the fact 95% of them are junk is the state we are in today. 

30 years ago a hot rasp would would work for weeks..  Today a new hot rasp might last 2 minutes.. 

I've used new Nicholsons, Simmonds,  Pferrd, Heller, Save edge, Bellotta, several China made ones, a few from Chile,  and they just don't last. 

The SWBT lasted the longest of any new production files and will still cut some now after maybe 30hrs of use. 
 

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@JenniferP,

Are the SWBT files still in production?  I tried a google search and came up with nothing.

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33 minutes ago, Alex Middleton said:

@JenniferP,

Are the SWBT files still in production?  I tried a google search and came up with nothing.



I don't know.. I did a websearch for them about 6months ago and didn't find anything on the file or the business. 

I bought the file at the 2018 ABANA conference in VA to use while there and it served very well..  I was surprised that it cut well for so long. 

Sorry I don't have more info..  There is no ( made in) stamp..   Post back if you find some. I'd love to find more myself. 

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Could it be Warrensville?  I have a couple of long-angle lathe files I got at an industrial supply house in Bowling Green, KY marked only with a "W" in a square.  Among the best files I've ever had.  http://www.warrensvillefile.com/index.php/american-pattern/engineer-s-files/mill-file.html

 

A farrier I know goes through one or two hoof rasps per horse, and just builds that into the cost of shoeing.

 

I recently got a 14" Pferd roughing file I haven't had a chance to use.  I'll report on it when I do.  It's as coarse as the file side of a hoof rasp.

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LOL.. 1 or 2 per horse??? What brand.. I'll stay away from them for sure.. :) 

The farrier rasp eater is Dirt..  Dirt, mud and stuck stone dust.  I do between 6 and 14 horses a day..  Draft horses with really dry feet can eat rasps too. 


@Alan Longmire hoof plane or hoof rasp?     Pferd uses a carbonized mild steel for the hoof planes.. Not sure about the rasps..   

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Pretty cool website Alan.  They have just about every type of file you could ever want.  Too bad they don't give a way to order them direct.  I sent them an email to see if I can get the name of a distributor in my area.

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