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Tools and Woods with Bob Smalser

  Files, Filing, Filling and Finishing… metal 2 of 5  

Break In and Care

Files are of hard and brittle steel and new files have a slight wire edge on their cutting teeth. Using a new file fresh from its wrapper to cut hard materials is a mistake, as this wire edge can break and take part of the cutting edge with it.

A better practice is to break the file in…removing that wire edge…by filing lightly on brass or bronze before proceeding to steel. Files should never be used with force, as too much pressure causes the teeth to clog quickly and causes the file to rock and round the corners of the work piece. Also take note of the fresh file brush and blackboard chalk that live with the files.

Keeping the work surface wiped clean of shavings and the teeth of the file clean and unclogged will prevent those disastrous deep scratches that are the bane of finishing work. Chalking the file makes it easier to clean and lessens its tendency to clog with shavings.

Files should not be stored loose in drawer or toolbox where they touch each other… I prefer to store them either hanging by their handles or upright with their tangs in a holed block affixed to the back of the bench.

Yeah, I know…the files in my picture are dirty and rusty…I should clean them before storage and then again before and as I use them.

But what’s important is clean teeth touching the work piece, and out of laziness I skip a step and clean them thoroughly with WD-40 and the file brush and a dental pick if necessary before use and with chalk and the file brush and during use.

Removing the scope mount on this first-year Remington 141 restoration was an unpleasant surprise… small, 6-48 holes are filled and the repair hidden relatively easily, but these larger, off-center 8-40 holes will be difficult to repair without the repair showing. What a rat’s nest!

And the aftermarket sling swivel mounted off center will also be removed and the original finish restored, and I’ll do that job first. These are threaded studs and are screwed in and sometimes also soft soldered as there is very little thread bearing surface in the thin band it is mounted to. This one is soldered. I can either unscrew it using 450 degrees of heat and pliers then fill the hole or I can simply grind and file it flush, which has some disadvantages you will see below.

I grind off the stud on the buffer grinder and crossfile with a single cut mill file until I am close to the original surface….

…then I draw file the stud flush with the surface…

…. followed by aluminum oxide wet-or-dry paper lubed with WD-40 and a sanding block in 180 through 600 grits without skipping a grit to polish.

2 of 5  

Kearney & Foot Files

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