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What are the different types of file handle?

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A selection of plastic file handles File handles are made in a variety of shapes by a number of different manufacturers. The key thing to remember when selecting a file handle is that it should be one that you can grip comfortably!
Wood and plastic, two of the softer materials that files have been designed to smooth and shape File handles are made of either wood or plastic.

What size handle do I need?

Image warning DIYers to check their file's size before thinking about buying a plastic handle that will clip onto the heel of their file To begin with, it would be helpful for you to know the length of your file, as this is the measurement that will be referred to by the file handle manufacturers.
Image of a chainsaw file handle and three chainsaw files of the same gauge. The gauge is the measurement used to choose the right handle The only exception to this rule is chainsaw files, which are usually measured by gauge (diameter, or the widest measurement across the point of the file) rather than width. Their dedicated handles will be listed using the same measurement.

For more information, see: What is a chainsaw file?

A selection of non-chainsaw files using standard handles All of the other types of file use standard handles.
Image showing an adjustable file handle with the selection of inserts that will allow it to hold any size of tang Some handles are also designed to fit onto any size of file. These handles may come with inserts that plug the space in the base of the file to make a smaller opening for smaller files, or they may have tapered holes that will fit any width of tang.
Image of a selection of files with handles that don't fit all the way up the tang You’ll find that if you fit a large file into a small handle, or even one that’s one size fits all, that the handle may not be flush with the heel. If this is the case, worry not! As long as your file is secure in the handle, this doesn’t matter at all.
Image of a file with a golf ball for a handle You can even use a golf ball with a hole drilled into it as a gimmicky handle. The most important thing is that the tang is not exposed during use.

Wooden handles

Image of a wooden file handle Wooden handles are sturdy and can be visually appealing. They are more commonly found than individual plastic handles.
A happy piggy bank thanks to a cost effective way of heat treating the steel used to make files They are usually cheaper than plastic handles by a small margin.
A drawer for storing files complete with dividers to prevent them from wearing down each other's faces They tend not to include integrated hanging holes, which means you will need to think of an alternative way to store them.
Image to show that a ferrule is a metal band at the bottom of a wooden file handle Wooden handles are prone to cracking unless they have a ferrule, which reinforces the base of the handle.

For more information, see:What are the basic parts of a file handle?

Advantages and disadvantages of using wooden file handles ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
  • Sometimes cheaper than plastic handles
  • Not easy to hang on a rack

Plastic handles

Image showing a flat file with a pre-attached handle Most files are now sold with plastic handles already attached.
Image to show that plastic file handles are more expensive than wooden file handles When bought separately, they are usually a little more expensive than wooden handles.
A rack storing multiple files safely Many of them come with integrated hanging holes for ease of storage on racks, although this is not always the case.
Image of a rubberised file handle They are durable, and may be rubberised to protect from potential damage through wear and tear.
Image to show a tool with a rubberised grip Rubber grips on the file handle make the tool comfortable to hold, which is an important consideration if you will be using your file for extended periods of time.
Advantages and disadvantages of using plastic file handles ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
  • Can come with pre-moulded hanging holes for ease of storage
  • Include rubber sections for increased grip and comfort
  • Sometimes more expensive than wooden handles
Wonkee Donkee explains why plastic handles are quite often superior to metal handles

Ergonomic handles

Image showing a DIYer using a file mounted in an ergonomic handle to debur a metal object Ergonomic handles are designed to hold a file at 35°, which is the natural angle of the human wrist. While this makes the filing experience a little more comfortable in the long run, these handles are only available in America.

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