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Choosing a File Shaping

Choosing a file: shaping

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Image of a DIYer using a half round file to create a curved groove The shape of the file you use depends on what shape you would like your finished product to be. A half round file might be best for a semicircular groove, for example.
Image of a wooden hard drive case with a hole in the front that has been enlarged to the correct dimensions by use of a square file On the other hand, a square file would be better suited to enlarging a square aperture.
A file cut with curved teeth, known as a vixen file When shaping, double cut files remove material more quickly than single cut files. You might also consider some of the more unusual cuts, such as vixen or millenicut if you are looking for speed.
Image of Wonkee Donkee reading the guide on choosing files based on shaping tasks Suggestions are provided below for which files to use for specific shaping tasks.


Image of a platinum ring with a bevelled edge Flat, half round (flat face only), hand, handy and mill files

Blades – jimping or serrating

Image of jimping on a knife blade that has been created through the use of a chequering file Chequering file, taper saw file and three square files

Car body

Image of a car that may eventually need to be worked on by a mechanic with a vixen file Bodifile, flexible file (curved tooth attachment) and vixen files


Image of a gun handle that has been chequered both for aesthetic purposes and increased grip Chequering and three square files

Concave surfaces

Filing a concave surface with a half round file Half round, marking, ring and round files

Convex surfaces or rounded corners

A DIYer filing a convex surface to leave a smooth finish Flat, half round (flat face), hand, handy and mill files

Clock or watch parts

Close up of the gears and mechanisms inside a clock that need to be dressed with an escapement file Barrette, crossing file and escapement files


A coin making die completed and ready to go Rifflers

Enlarging round holes

A DIYer using a round file to enlarge a slot in a wooden door. Round files

Enlarging square holes

Image of a wooden hard drive case with a hole in the front that has been enlarged to the correct dimensions by use of a square file Equalling, pillar and square files

F-holes (on musical instruments)

The round portions of guitar f holes are smoothed down with chainsaw files Chainsaw files


Image to illustrate the correct way to file nails Hand files


DIYer filing the teeth of a wooden gear with a barrette file Barrette and crossing files

Guitar frets

Image of a guitar with dirty frets that needs to be cleaned with a fret end dressing file Fret end dressing files

Guitar nut

A luthier filing a notch for a string in the nut of a guitar Round edge joint files


A hinge in a vice, ready to be deburred by a DIYer Round edge joint files


Hooves that have been well taken care of with a horse rasp Horse rasps

Ignition points

Image of an ignition file in use in a confined space Ignition point files

Internal angles

Image of a DIYer using a three square file to smooth the inside of a shape cut into a thin piece of wood Auriform, knife, pippin, slitting and three square files


Image of a DIYer using a ring file to file the inside of a ring Barrette, crossing, oval, ring, round and needle files

Key ways

Image of a keyhole which has tight internal angles and is therefore best deburred by a knife or pippin file Equalling, knife, pillar, pippin, square, square edge joint and warding files


A key blank which can be turned into a copy of a key with a pippin file Pippin and warding files

Lathe work

DIYer using a long angle lathe file to smooth a cylindrical object that is spinning on a lathe Long angle lathe files

Modelling and sculpting

Hobbyist filing a plastic goblin miniature with a round needle file Needle files or rifflers


Image of a wooden mortise which can be smoothed on the inside by a pillar file Equalling, pillar, square and square edge joint files


Image of a pipe that needs to be descaled using a half round file Half round files

Right angles

Image of a right angled notch that has been cut by a square file Square files

Screw heads

A screw head, which is where the slotting file earned its other name Slotting files

Screw thread

A screw with damaged thread that will have to be repaired with a knife file Auriform, knife, pippin and thread restoring files


Image of a ski to illustrate an object that could be filed by a double cut flexible file or a flexible rasp Flexible files with rasp attachments


Image of a narrow slot in a piece of metal that could easily be deburred with a warding file Match shape of file to shape of slot

Squaring a round hole

Image of a DIYer using a pillar file to work on just one side of the square hole, taking advantage of the pillar file's safe edge Pillar, square and three square files

Tongue and groove flooring

Image of tongue and groove floorboards with the groove facing the camera. The groove can be filed using a square edge joint file Flat, hand, mill and square edge joint files

Warding (on a lock)

Diagram to illustrate the location of warding on a lock and the type of lock it exists on Warding files

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