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What are half round ring and marking files?

What are half round, ring and marking files?

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The basic filing technique, cross filing, can be used with half round files Half round, ring and marking files are exceptionally versatile machinist’s files The flat sides of a half round file can be used in the same way as a flat or hand file.

See: What are hand and flat files?

Image of a narrow slot in a piece of metal that could easily be deburred with a square file The acute angle created at the file edge where the semicircular and flat sides meet on half round and ring files can also be used in a similar way to a three square file for deburring and finishing internal corners.
 Wonkee Donkee extols the virtues of the half round file as an adaptable tool

What are the characteristics of half round, ring and marking files?

Diagram of a semicircular cross section

Cross section

Half round, ring and marking files have a semicircular cross section.

Filing a concave surface with a half round file Their curved side allows for filing of concave surfaces and the insides of round holes.
Image of a pipe that needs to be descaled using a half round file This in turn makes them ideal for de-scaling pipes.
Image of a DIYer using a ring file to file the inside of a ring Ring files tend to be a little narrower than their other semicircular cousins so that they can fit into smaller spaces.
Image of a ring, which is too narrow for a half round file and requires a specific ring file This is how they earned their name, as their narrower section allows them to fit inside rings more easily.
Image of a DIYer using a half round file to create a curved groove The rounded side of all of these files can be used to create curved grooves.
Image of a half round file showing outline and cut


All of these files taper towards the point in width and thickness, which allows them to fit into small openings and confined spaces.

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


Half round and ring files are usually double cut on their flat side, but their rounded side can be single or double cut.

Image of a marking file illustrating the safe flat face Marking files are safe on their flat face.
Diagram indicating where the safe face on a marking file is located This makes them particularly useful for working on the inside of cuvres,  as it is impossible to accidentally spoil the surface you are filing with the corner of the tool.
An indication of the range of lengths in which half round files are usually available


Half round files are usually available in lengths from 100mm (4 inches) to 400mm (16 inches).

An indication of the range of lengths in which ring files are usually available Ring files are usually 150mm (6 inches) long.
An indication of the range of lengths in which marking files are usually available Marking files are usually between 137mm (51/2 inches) and 162mm (61/2 inches) long.
American and Swiss flags, illustrating that this type of file is made in either American or Swiss pattern

Swiss or American?

Half round files can be either Swiss or American pattern.

Flag of Switzerland - home of the Swiss pattern file invented by F. L. Grobet in the 19th Century Ring and marking files are both Swiss pattern files.

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