8 Old School Tips For Better Hand Filing

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8 Old School Tips For Better Hand Filing, by Clickspring

This video was done as a one-off viewer request but I like the format so I'm going to keep it going as a request driven series - Let me know what you want to see covered in the comments below - Cheers 🙂

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Cameras used in this video:
Panasonic GH5 -
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Tools & Shop Products:
Optivisor Headband Magnifier:
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Digital Calipers:

Abbreviated Transcript:

00:42 I use Swiss made Grobet files for the vast majority of my filing and I find them to be excellent. So If you're looking to track some down, be sure to confirm that they are actually made in Switzerland before you buy, and keep an eye out for the bunny on the tang.
01:22 A safe edge like this effectively isolates the cutting to a single surface, and it forms a key part of my filing technique. Because when I'm filing something that needs to be precise, like for example a rectangle thats required to be dead on center. I like to have the basic target profile formed, very early in the filing process, before I use up too much of the available metal.
02:49 Next I identify the critical corners of the workpiece. These are the locations that must be well positioned for the part to be acceptable. And then I start the cut working directly towards those corners, with the objective of establishing the overall shape whilst using up as little of the metal margin as possible.
03:32 And its not unusual for this last part of the process to take up most of the time. Because there's often only a handful of file strokes between a tight and a perfect fit. The very last thing I want to do is take it too far, and remove too much metal. Now this idea can be applied to just about any profile, whether it be internal or external.
04:07 If I get the corners correctly established early, then the orientation can be locked in. And the whole shape can be slowly worked toward the final profile. Now of course that's the ideal, but it rarely goes according to the plan, which leads to tip Number 4. 05:36 Now there is an even more immediate technique that can be used to pick up errors, as they occur. Just prior to each cut, a light cross grain pattern can be made on the surface of the work, and then a light can be positioned to make that pattern more visible.
06:14 Because it means that rather than reacting after completing a surface, I can take a much more proactive approach while the cut is in progress. And it makes creating a taper or dealing with a localised error easier too. Just mark the region where more metal needs to be removed, and then concentrate the work there.
06:59 And although the effect is quite subtle, the shop itself has a few reference edges too, that can also help the process. Aligning the work with the vise, and then the vise with the bench means that all of these edges that are sitting in my peripheral vision as I work, and can now also give me cues for better alignment of the file.
07:38 And the fact that its held with both hands means that there's a good controlled grip to keep it that way. So the technique is perfect for delivering a very precise surface. Its also an excellent technique help generate on 2 or more parts at the same time.
08:47 And the same idea can be expanded to generate more complex shapes using guides, like for example the crossings on this wheel. The shape near the center of the wheel needs to be exactly the same for each opening, and a filing guide makes this much easier to achieve.


"Watchmaking" by Daniels:
"Workshop practice Series":

The Nicholson Guide to Files & Filing:

8 Old School Tips For Better Hand Filing, by Clickspring


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