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What are crossing and oval files?

What are crossing and oval files?

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Image showing the difference between a crossing file and an oval file Crossing and oval files are two different types of machinist’s file that are used for shaping concave surfaces.

What are the characteristics of crossing and oval files?

Diagram of a crossing file cross section

Cross section

Crossing files have two rounded faces, one shallower than the other. This makes for a cross section that resembles a pointed oval.

DIYer using a crossing file to add concave recesses to a gold ring As the curves on both sides of a crossing file are slightly different shapes, it can file concave surfaces of different depths.
Image showing watch gears of different sizes which are shaped using crossing files Crossing files really come into their own in the watch making industry, though. Their shape means they are suited to creating and finishing curved surfaces and circles of different sizes.
A selection of watch gears, which are best filed with a crossing file Their pointed edges allow them to shape inside tight areas in watch hands and gears.¬†This process, known as ‘crossing out’, is where the file earned its name.
Diagram of an oval cross section The cross section of an oval file is not pointed at the edges, and follows a more conventional oval shape.
Diagram of an oval file being used end on As well as filing with their wide, convex faces, oval files can be used edge-on to file inside steep concave grooves.
Image of a crossing file showing its outline and cut


Both types of file are tapered in width and thickness to allow them to file in tight spaces.

A double cut file, which has grooves cut in two directions


They are both double cut on all faces.

An indication of the range of lengths in which crossing files are usually available


Crossing files are usually available in lengths from 100mm (4 inches) to 200mm (8 inches).

An indication of the range of lengths in which oval files are usually available Oval files are usually 137mm (51/2 inches) to 197mm (73/4 inches) long.
Flag of Switzerland - home of the Swiss pattern file invented by F. L. Grobet in the 19th Century

Swiss or American?

Crossing files and oval files are both Swiss pattern files.

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