Picture of Make Disposable Files
I had a need for a dozen or more small files for only a few hours. 

Rather than pay out for tools that would then become unused clutter, I decided to make a set cheaply enough that I wouldn't mind throwing them out when they weren't needed any more.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
There are very few things needed:

  • 6mm dowel. I bought a 2.4m length for £1.68. Cut to about six inch lengths, that's enough for 16 files.
  • Sandpaper. A pack of 10 sheets cost me 89p, and I only used one sheet to make the set.
  • PVA glue and masking tape - both from "stock".
That's it. Sixteen files for less than 20p each.

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Neat idea, I will have to try this!
Kiteman (author)  MandalorianMaker18 days ago

Cool, post pictures when you do,

sdfgeoff1 year ago

I do this with dremel bits, get the felt polishing drums and use white-glue to glue a strip of sandpaper around the edge.

One thing I do there that may be good here as well is that I wind the sandpaper around the drum a couple of times. On the dremel, it wears off quickly, and so instead of having to remake it, I can simply unwind and tear off a loop of the sandpaper. (the PVA doesn't stick well to the sharp side).

It does mean that it isn't perfectly circular though.

Kiteman (author)  sdfgeoff1 year ago

These don't get the high-speed battering that a dremel would.

I like the tape idea to hold the paper to the dowl. great job

Kiteman (author)  Fikjast Scott1 year ago

Thank you!

Machine1 year ago

Very tidy idea. I'll do that. I occasionally need to file small things and your idea is perfect.

Kiteman (author)  Machine1 year ago


bullzebub1 year ago

theseare great if your dowel is thin enough to fit the chuck of your drill. bites much better than normal round files since normal files are directional.

another good idea is to glue sandpaper on a flat surface ... i used to attach one directly to my workbench.

bsmith1521 year ago
actualy a file comes in diffrent sizes and hardnes. ur store baught file is usaly 65 hrc on the rockwell scale. sand paper has no hardnes. so what ur making is acrualy a sand paper stick.
PACW bsmith1521 year ago
Kiteman (author)  PACW1 year ago

xkcd rocks!

Kiteman (author)  bsmith1521 year ago

...that is used the same way as a file.

The point is, this is a disposably cheap alternative to a normal file.

notimeoff1 year ago

Nice post, I have bin doing this to my shop pencils for years, there just right with and inch or two of sand paper and I still have a pencil :-)

Shouldn't be too hard to recover the dowels if wanted.?

Kiteman (author)  snoopindaweb1 year ago

I guess not, but if you're lazy, and near a camp bonfire...

They would be handy camping, light too.

jimmysymo1 year ago

Really good idea,have voted for you. Iv;e worked in wood carving 40 years and this is a good cheap tool good luck.have a good day.

Kiteman (author)  jimmysymo1 year ago

Thank you!

PACW1 year ago

My other great Kiteman/File theory:

Because the World Wide Web is actually World Wide, many times people from different countries mingle online. I have heard a rumor that Kiteman lives in a country other than America, where they speak English- just not very well. In fact he once had a spanner under the bonnet of a Lori. So it is possible that some words may be more elastic in some places than others.

Kiteman (author)  PACW1 year ago


mc25171 year ago

some two-sided tape is even better than the glue. you can make some great emery boards using the same technique with thin flat wood stock, tongue depressors, etc

Kiteman (author)  mc25171 year ago

It's better if you have some. It's not a "stock" material in my shed.

mc2517 Kiteman1 year ago
hasn't gone out of production. used for installing golf grips and other applications. comes in widths 3/4" and up.
Kiteman (author)  mc25171 year ago

I know that, I just didn't have any myself when I made these.

PACW1 year ago

I have two theories as to why Kiteman used the word "file" improperly.

The first theory is that he didn't use the word improperly. Although I am frequently obsessive about word misuse I know that being too precise in definitions can hinder understanding - which sort of defeats the purpose of communication.

I use sand paper and files and rasps and emery boards. But I refer to my emery boards (sandpaper on a stick) as nail files and everyone knows what I mean - which is just as well because emery boards aren't made with actual emery!

The way a tool is used is as important as the actual configuration when referring to it by name.

Analogous question. . . . . At what exact point does a tool stop being a serrated knife and starts being a saw?

​I think your "N" key has gone rouge!!
"Awesone"and "thanknyou" lol

Maybe he's southern and what he meant was, "Aw, son, that is brilliant." And thanknyou is so obviously short for "I am thanking you"

fzbw9br1 year ago

files are for metal

rasps are for wood

Kiteman (author)  fzbw9br1 year ago

The difference between files and rasps is not in the material they work, but in the shape of the teeth or grooves:


Hey, I stand corrected.

that was a good link. Thanks for that!

Kiteman (author)  fzbw9br1 year ago

You're welcome!

I have had no trouble cutting any paper if I fold it where I want to cut and then run the knife from the back (paper) side most difficult paper is the coarse 80 and higher they're harder to fold. regardless of the quality

nice idea you could match curves with different diameter dowels.

uncle frogy

Kiteman (author)  uncle frogy1 year ago

I like the diameter idea!

Monsterguy1 year ago
If a nail file can be metal or sand glued to a stick, I don't see why these shouldn't be called files :)

Kiteman (author)  Monsterguy1 year ago


This is one of those things, when you see it, you slap your forehead and go Duh, why didn't I think of that! By using various papers, grits, and types, along with various shapes, a guy could get in any little crevice. Thanks a lot, this will come in very handy when I repair guitars, or build them from scratch. With high grade wet dry paper, they should actually last a little while.

Kiteman (author)  tootall11211 year ago

Cool, thanks for the comment!

submark1 year ago

Fishing rod makers and finishers have made rasps and files to fit cork handles onto rod blanks by using discarded or cut up sections of old broken rods. A rod has a progressive taper, so different sections will have different profiles and can be coated with different sized grit. Other materials such as wood, metal, and plate glass for a perfectly flat surface make useful cheap abrasive surfaces and can be contoured to fit different shapes and forms .

By coating the desired section with a thin layer of epoxy and then dusting whatever size and type of grit desired onto the epoxy, a semi permanent rasp can be made. It is necessary to keep epoxy turning about the axis of the rod or stick until it sets or it will sag or drip.

I have tried other adhesives in the past, but solvent based or rubbery contact cements were not so good. Pliobond was OK, but it needed several days to set up and toughen.

Kiteman (author)  submark1 year ago

You ought to post an Instructable on that idea!

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