Step 3: Cleaning Files and Rasps

Finally, once you're done, make sure to clean the file. For light work, you can use a file card or wire brush to flick out the metal chips caught in the file's teeth. In this case, the aluminum chips are practically welded to the file, so we've got to resort to tougher stuff. In the ensuing photos, Lynne takes this file to a bench grinder (using the wire wheel). Even so, this file might be done for.
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Almost forgot, a piece of Bamboo cut as flat as possible works almost as good as a copper scraper too. On some files it woks better, like the round tapered variety. In both cases (using copper or Bamboo) Just rub in the same angled direction as the the file grain. You will be amazed with the outcome because it is quick & painless & works 100%.

A flat copper scraper (made from old cooper pipe opened with tin snips & flattened on one end)works best to clean aluminum & other stubborn Gunk from a file. Also if you are filing aluminum rub an old candle on the file first. Some say use chalk, but your ordinary every day candle wax works better.

Nillerus8 months ago

When I've utterly mangled a single file, I usually go in there with a spare scriber (etching tool) I have lying around. With enough patience it can clean the grooves of debris pretty thoroughly.

dekonick2 years ago
pennies are no longer 100% copper - in fact they have zinc.

The link has a table that gives the % of zinc based on each year's production.


Jacaroo4 years ago
Jacaroo says:
Excellent presentation, take it from someone who has used files and made them unusable.
My dear departed Dad made me sit and clean each one of his files with a piece of Brass which was run along the grooves  and this dipensed of anything from lead to aluminium and other soft metals, it even removed rust if enough elbow grease was applied.
You see Dad was a Seargent Major and a Master Technician
My grandfather believed one of the most useful things to have in the workshop was a load of candles. Rubbing a woodscrew on one would make it go in easier, on a saw would make it get caught less, and on a file it would make it easier to clean afterward.
Your grandfather sounds like he was a wise man. I still use this trick today. My grandfather told me keeping pennies in your toolbox helps prevent rust. Whether this was ever true (in the days they were made of copper) or not, I don't know, but I still keep a couple of pennies in each of my toolbox drawers as a sort of tribute to the old man's esoteric wisdom. ;-)
Well there might be some sort of galvanic/sacrificial-anode chemistry to back it up, like in boats, but would have thought it'd work best with nickel or zinc coins. So maybe he heard it from someone in the USA? The only other mote of wisdom that springs to mind was to place a small square of cloth between the drill bit and metal when drilling through a sheet to prevent it chattering and making a ragged hole. Seems to work, though I'm unsure if the cloth needs to be oiled or not for it to.
juantam6 years ago
Hi! I heard from an old friend, an engineer, that the best way to effectively clean a files is to immerse it in hydrochloric acid. Thereby, the bits and pieces stuck in between the file teeth will either be eaten away by the acid or slowly be dislodged as the acid gradually eats away at the iron filings. Though, I really haven't tried this method because, I dislike the risk of burning myself with acid and finding a place where to dispose of it when I am done.
offseid7 years ago
Nice. Would be good to see a bit of how to use a rasp on wood. Also, a bit about file sharpening? I heard once about some service out in California that sharpens files for like $3 a pop or something like that, and that they do such a good job that even new files sent to them come back better!