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What are machinist’s files?

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A DIYer shaping a piece of metal with a double cut file Machinist’s files (also known as engineer’s files) are designed for shaping and finishing material.
Image of a selection of differently shaped machinist's files These types of file are available in a number of different cross sections.
A DIYer using a machinist's file to smooth down the edges inside a slot They were invented with corners and curves in mind, allowing metalworkers to create slots and gaps with narrow or wide angles and curves of any gradient and shape.
Iron gate in Paris, France, showing the degree of skill with which metal workers plied their craft. Files would have been used to deburr the metal and create the intricate shaping Machinist’s files are used in a variety of artistic trades, ranging from jewellery making to the creation of ornate metal gates.
Image to show that American pattern files are usually used on larger jobs than Swiss pattern files Larger workpieces will usually require an American pattern file, while smaller objects will require a Swiss pattern file, although in many cases the shape is more important than the type of file you use.

This is because American pattern files are usually made in larger sizes, whereas Swiss pattern files tend to be smaller and more precise.

Image of a machinist's file rapidly removing wood from the surface of a work piece Coarse machinist’s files are used for the rapid removal of material and are usually double cut to increase speed.
A DIYer draw filing a piece of metal with a single cut file Finishing is done by smoother files that are single cut. This type of file is the best type of file to use when draw filing.

For more information, see: What is draw filing?

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