Nicholson Files

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Shop Fun with Scott Grandstaff


My Files


New files from any source are getting worse and worse as times goes on. So few people understand files and what they are supposed to do anymore.  What you can and cannot do with a file?

(Namely, files are supposed to be dumped into the bottom of a dirty rusty toolbox piled high with sockets and wrenches.  Then banged around and the lid left open in the rain some of the time. They are supposed to be used mostly with quick short strokes in one spot all the time and then thrown on the ground when finished.  Pick them up the next day and slam back into the tool box.)

The file makers are all making files to fit the modern American psyche.  Whether Peoria, Geneva, Bangkok, or New Delhi they make files with fat blunt teeth so they don't chip in moronically harsh treatment.  But this means they never cut for s--t in the first place!

Think block plane with a 60degree bevel!  You can bang it down on concrete and it won't chip, but its a poor tool to actually work with.  Only files made before 1960 (my own casual observation cutoff date, I expect to be wrong a little) were made with much more fragile, but infinitely sharper teeth.

So vintage NOS saw files, as high quality saws are gaining more and more respect in the world, will eventually rise in desirability and price.  But it will not happen unless enough people wise up and go back to treating a file like the miraculous, but fragile tool it really is. Then Nicholson and others will happily go back to making great files and we won't need to scrounge for the old stock so hard.

A fine file deserves a fine handle.  Having refined tools helps center your mind for fine and demanding jobs.  Rosewood, carved madrone, high color tan oak, nothing is too good for your best work.

Needle files usually have one or two detachable handles.  I make clamping chucks from brass pipe/tube fittings attached to wooden handles for this service.

Files also need a home. Piling them up is the same as grinding them into the dirt. And worse.  Nothing dulls a file like another file.

Blown out Levi's legs make perfect file bags that anyone can sew up. 

The backsides of cupboard doors is otherwise wasted space that can safely hold lots of files at the ready. 

As you can see, making the handles different from each other saves time hunting the one file you need. Thin planks can be slotted to hold needle fines and they stack in a drawer just right.

yours, Scott
August 2012
, in Happy Camp, CA


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