Introduction: Identify Needle Files by the Shape of Their Handle

Picture of Identify Needle Files by the Shape of Their Handle

I'm always reaching for my set of needle files, but not always successful at grabbing the one I need.  Here's a simple way to make handles that readily identify a needle file's shape so you can select the correct one, every time.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

I often use small amounts of epoxy putty for repair and gadget making.  Unfortunately, small amounts of the stick I use don't mix very well, so I cut at least 1/8" off the stick, no matter how much putty I really need.  I'm often left with a bit left over.  I don't want to waste it, so, what to do?... Hmmm

I know! Let's make identification handles for my needle files!

What you'll need:
1. Needle files... I have partial sets, dating back 50 years, making for several duplicates.  Very confusing.
2. Epoxy.  I use the stick kind, but any type of moldable epoxy will work just fine.
3. Something to shape the epoxy with.  Sander, hand file, sand paper or knife.
4. Dark paint
5. Bright paint
6. Permanent marker

Step 2: Dress the Handle

Picture of Dress the Handle

Wrap the putty around the top of the handle making a tear-drop shaped "coat".  Keep it larger at the top.  Leave 1/8" of an inch or so above the metal shaft so it can be sanded off.  Smooth it out as best as you can and set it aside to cure.

Because I only do one or two at a time, I usually put the needle file back into the foam holder at this point and wait until I have several wrapped before I go on to the next step.  Doing them all at once would be more efficient... But then I'd have to think of something else to do with the left over epoxy from now on.  After this Instructable I'll have 4 or 5 left to do.

Step 3: Shape the Handle

Picture of Shape the Handle

Once the epoxy has hardened, you can shape it into a visual description of the file.  The file I chose is flat, so I've made the handle rectanglular, wide in one direction, narrow in the other.  You don't need to shape the entire handle, only the top portion.

Finally, sand the top so the end of the handle is flat and looks like the shape of the file when looked at straight on.

Step 4: Paint the Handle

Picture of Paint the Handle

Paint the handle a dark or contrasting color. I painted mine black.  You can leave the top unpainted.

When the dark paint is dry, spray your bright color onto a sheet of paper and dip the end of the handle into it.

Set the file aside to dry.

Finally, use your magic marker to highlight any "special" conditions your files might have.  For example, a dot to signify that the file comes to a point.  I marked mine to show which edges are non-working (smooth).

From now on, when you need a particular needle file, you'll be able to select it without having to sort through them.  This should work even if you keep your files in the plastic "wallet" they came in.


Yonatan24 (author)2016-01-21

That's a good idea... Make me think that I need more files

3366carlos (author)2013-10-09

smart idea.

bfk (author)3366carlos2013-10-11

Thank you

Libahunt (author)2012-01-22

Great idea!

My files had handles already, but I gave them 2 minute permanent marker upgrade :)


bfk (author)Libahunt2012-01-22

Nice job... Makes you wonder why file companies don't sell them that way.

pfred2 (author)bfk2012-01-22

Because file companies know you're not supposed to store files like that. Though I'm sure they appreciate it when you do!

sw.machinist (author)pfred22013-05-14

Yeah, the teeth on the files WILL get damaged if they are stored that way. (Even though we all have a drawer like that! lol) But keep your "sunday" files in a nice fabric roll-up pouch.

bfk (author)pfred22012-01-23


I pulled the corrugation out for the picture. Normally they stand up straight... Not touching, which is how they got to be 50. Even in those cheap pouches they normally come in, it's difficult to tell what they are through all that ancient vinyl.

pfred2 (author)bfk2012-01-23

Oh mislead us with your staged photographs did you? I see ... I put up an article with my original account that you might be able to make use of:

Just make a smaller one.

hjjusa (author)2012-01-22

Good idea, I'm always fumbling through my files to find the right one.

bfk (author)hjjusa2012-01-22

Thanks... Check this out as well:

hjjusa (author)bfk2012-01-22


Robot Lover (author)2012-01-22

That's a pretty good idea! No more fumbling around trying to find the correct file! Good Job!

bfk (author)Robot Lover2012-01-22

Thanks. I'm straightening up my shop and after I made the Instructable, came across a number of additional files, so I updated the picture... All together, they're actually kind of pretty.:)

About This Instructable




Bio: Old inventor, reverted back to my 10 year-old self. A shop full of tools, a boat, race car, 3D printer and a beautiful wife who ... More »
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