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Files? What are the differences?

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N

Nelson

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#1
Just got some Nicholson files.
BTW- They are made in Mexico and Brazil not even assembled in USA and the quality isn't so hot IMHO.
But they were on sale at Enco.

Question on the meaning of the different types- Flat Bastard? Mill Bastard? Flat Smooth? What is the difference between "Mill", "Bastard", "Smooth"?

If/When I want to spend more, what is a good quality maybe US or English set?


Thanks guys,


:tiphat:Nelson
 

Redirish

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I didn't know Nicholson had out-sourced their files. Too bad, as they were the largest in the US for many years. I still have some new old stock files, I stocked up while I was still working. Having said that, my favorite files are Simonds, I believe they are made in Newcomerstown NJ. Heller is another very good brand, and I think Simonds took over Heller. If you will Google " Simonds International ", you can find the descriptions of the different types. As far as I know they are still US made. I don't know much about the English products, but have heard good things about the Swedish made files. Simonds was originally in Fitchburg, Mass, maybe the main plant still is. Hope this helps.
 

burnrider

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+1 for Simonds. Never have chalked files, card clean them for every use. Quote is from 'weld talk'

You also may want to consider "chalking" the files. This fills the teeth with soft chalk that will encapsulate the metal filings, reducing the chance of scratching your work and making it easier to clean the file with a file card. This is something that gunsmiths do all the time since they are often using files as a step towards a finished polished surface. Buy quality files, use chalk, don't backstroke them, keep them clean dry and rust free and you will be amazed at how well they work. And you don't need an outlet or cord!;)
 

Redirish

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I tried chalking files after reading about it years ago, but couldn't see much improvement. I keep a file card handy and use it often, don't need anything else. It amazes me how many people don't know what a file card is, they pick it up and really look it over then ask " what is that? ". Steel hairbrush, of course!:))
 
T

Tom Griffin

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The first term in a file description is the shape of the file, like mill, hand, square, half round, round and triangular. The second term in the description refers to the cut, like bastard, second cut and smooth. Certain cuts can also be single cut (smooth or second) or double cut (bastard, second and smooth).

The file I use most is a 10" smooth single cut mill file. It's a flat shape with tapered edges and is great for general filing and deburring. It also cuts on both edges but if I need a safe edge all it takes is a trip to the belt sander.

I also have an assortment of the other common shapes in various cuts. Bastard cut for roughing and smooth single cut for finishing work like draw filing. If you do a lot of filing on aluminum, Nicholson makes what they call a Super Shear file. It looks sort of like a curved tooth body file but cuts aluminum like crazy and never loads up.

I normally buy either Nicholson or Grobet files. So far I haven't experienced any loss of quality with Nicholson.

Tom
 

12bolts

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#6
The different length of a file also changes the "coarseness" of the teeth. A 8" flat bastard has a different cut to a 10" flat bastard, as to a 12" flat bastard. Same also in the other grades, 2nd cut, smooth.

Cheers Phil
 

McRuff

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#7
I didn't know Nicholson had out-sourced their files. Too bad, as they were the largest in the US for many years. I still have some new old stock files, I stocked up while I was still working. Having said that, my favorite files are Simonds, I believe they are made in Newcomerstown NJ. Heller is another very good brand, and I think Simonds took over Heller. If you will Google " Simonds International ", you can find the descriptions of the different types. As far as I know they are still US made. I don't know much about the English products, but have heard good things about the Swedish made files. Simonds was originally in Fitchburg, Mass, maybe the main plant still is. Hope this helps.
Yep they closed there manufacturing plant here in Cullman Alabama down last summer. Used to go to the employee yard sale and buy them for $1-$2 a piece once a year and bring home a dozen or so. Sad day, put around 200 employees out of work at a really bad time.
 

burnrider

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Anyone here senior enough to have mentored under machinists back in the day? They required the apprentice to file a cube from aluminum. Friend now in his 70's tells of his trade training in the 40's.
 

Redirish

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12bolts is spot on about the differences in file lenghts and cuts. Had to come over to Phoenix today, when I went to the shop to get my truck I looked at some of my files. Odd that I'd never paid attention to the lenghts before, compared an 8" mill smooth to a 10" mill smooth and see quite a difference in the teeth. See, I learned something new!! My brain isn't completely petrified yet!! Gotta convince my wife of that. Or not. BTW, after using the file card for a hairbrush, DO NOT USE ANYTHING ON YOUR HAIR THAT CONTAINS ALCOHOL!!
 
N

Nelson

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#10
I purchased a Nicholson file last year sometime and will not make that mistake a second time. It is a 3/8" square bastard cut file an a large amount of teeth have broken off and the tang is soft, as the file bends at the handle.
On my set, the square bastard file is made in Brazil.

The ones made in Mexico have evidence of being heat treated at the tang (black discoloration of the metal from heating), the ones from Brazil don't, and the tangs on the Brazilian ones are rough with burrs on them. Apex Tools now owns the Nicholson brand. Shame on them for sending this crap out, but as Mike said, they don't even assemble it in the USA anymore (Mexico), so they are remote from the process (they are in Mo. or something).

No wonder older, used files on Ebay go for so much when they are listed from someone's estate.

:tiphat:Nelson
 
N

Nelson

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#11
+1 for Simonds. Never have chalked files, card clean them for every use. Quote is from 'weld talk'
http://www.simondsinternational.com/
Still in Fitchburg, Mass.

Not much more than Nicholson.
They come WITH handles too.


http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/SI...7&srccode=cii_13736960&cpncode=32-109250577-2

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050EBJTM...e=asn&creative=395093&creativeASIN=B0050EBJTM

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005UO0S9O...e=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B005UO0S9O


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050EBM8A...e=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B0050EBM8A

This set gives you most everything you need for $125:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050EBJTM...e=asn&creative=395093&creativeASIN=B0050EBJTM

:tiphat:Nelson

PS I'm ticked off with myself for buying Nicholson instead of Simonds.
 
T

Tom Griffin

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#12
FYI: I just received a couple of Nicholson smooth, single-cut, 10" mill files from McMaster Carr and they were made in U.S.A. Don't know how long the stock will last but they were priced at $10.26 and available.

I also found this place that sells them for $7.22 and says they have 597 on hand. :thinking: Never bought anything from them though.

Tom
 
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N

Nelson

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#13
Thanks Tom, must be old stock!

I will check it out.


Nelson
 

KBeitz

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#14
A little off track but I sharpen my old files with battery acid...
 
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