File Maintenance and Care
While files are not lifetime tools and will become blunt eventually, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure that they will last as long as possible. Keeping your files in top condition will help ensure that they are as effective as possible in caring out the tasks that you need.
Caring for the teeth
Looking after a file’s teeth can help to keep it sharper for longer.
The key thing to remember is that a file cuts on the push stroke. You should never apply pressure on the draw (pull) stroke, or you could crush the file teeth, blunt them, or cause them to break off.
The term ‘pinning’ refers to a file’s teeth becoming clogged with pieces of debris.
Not only can this cause your workpiece to become scratched, but it can also damage the file teeth themselves, causing them to break or become prematurely blunt.
Some sources recommend giving your file’s teeth a light brush with oil.
In theory, this coat of lubricant should prevent any waste material from getting stuck in the file’s teeth, as it should just slip straight back out again on the next file stroke.
In practice, however, chips can tend to get stuck to the liquid oil, which can actually encourage pinning in some cases
Oiling your file can also have an adverse effect on the amount of grip it has, causing chattering or preventing the file teeth from removing any material at all.
For more information on chattering, see: What is chattering?
Chalking up a victory
Rather than using a liquid to prevent pinning, it is preferable to rub the face of the file with chalk before you start filing.
This coats the file and its teeth in a layer of powder, giving the waste material no solid surface to grip onto.
Pressing too hard on your file is another potential cause of pinning. Be sure to keep the pressure light when using a file and only apply pressure to the most important areas.
Keeping files clean
If any debris does end up stuck in the file’s teeth, it is important to make sure it is cleaned out. Files should be cleaned on a regular basis.
For more information, see: How to clean a file
Files should be stored so that their faces cannot rub against each other, or against other tools. Files can be bought in sets with a carrying case which provide a storage solution and protection to files. Alternatively, file holders can be built as seen in the picture below.
For more information, see: How to store a file correctly