What are the different types of file?
There is a plethora of different types of file. As a result, it can be difficult to know which of the myriad options is the right one for your DIY project.
To provide you with an overview, a list of the different types is listed below. Each of these types of file is explored in much more detail in the individual file guides.
Further recommendations, broken down into categories according to the type of material that you are working on or the task you are trying to complete, are provided on the page:
Mill files are most often used to sharpen other flat bladed tools and to level the teeth on saw blades.
Veneer knife files
Veneer knife files are designed specifically to sharpen veneer knives.
Taper saw files
These triangular files were made primarily to sharpen saw teeth.
Double ended saw files
Double ended saw files are interesting files that resemble two taper saw files stuck together. They are long-lasting tools that can be used to sharpen saws multiple times before becoming too worn to use.
Crosscut files are used exclusively to sharpen crosscut saws.
Cant saw files
Cant saw files cater for most saws that have irregularly shaped teeth (with an angle between them that is not 60°), for example saws with M-shaped teeth.
Web saw files
Web saw files are diamond-shaped and suited to sharpening the rotary blades of web saws.
Chainsaw files can come in a variety of shapes, but are most often round. They are designed to fit into and sharpen the cleft in chainsaw blades.
Auger bit files
These files are used to sharpen auger bits, a specific type of drill bit that is used on wood.
Hand files are flat, general purpose files that can be used for a wide range of purposes, including deburring, shaping and finishing.
Flat files are also versatile tools and are generally interchangeable with hand files.
These files are designed for convenience, and are made with coarser teeth on one side than the other. This allows the DIYer to use one tool for both shaping and finishing their material.
Warding files are thin files that are used for working in thin slots, such as the warding on locks.
Pillar files have safe edges, and are useful when filing rectangular slots and grooves.
Equalling files can be used in a similar way to pillar files, and are cut differently on their edges than they are on their faces. This allows the same tool to be used for evening out inconsistencies in rectangular slots.
Square edge joint files
These files are only cut on the edges, making them ideal for creating or deepening rectangular grooves.
Designed with material removal in mind, square files excel at enlarging square holes and rectangular slots.
Three square files
The triangular cousin to the square file, three square files are best suited to filing internal angles and creating triangular grooves.
Resembling a knife due to their super narrow 'blade', knife files can create V-shaped grooves, and are able to work in tight internal angles.
Combining the blade of a knife file with a rounded back, pippin files are often used by locksmiths to create keys.
Similar to pippin files, but with one convex face, auriform files can restore screw threads, work on concave surfaces or file internal angles.
Half round files
These files are well suited to descaling pipes or working to shape or smooth concave surfaces. They can also be used to substitute for hand or flat files in some cases thanks to the fact they have one flat face.
Ring files are very similar to half round files, but narrower. This is so that they can fit inside rings.
Also similar to half round files, marking files are safe on their flat face. This prevents the risk of accidentally filing a surface if the corner of the file comes into contact with it.
These files taper to a thin point, which makes them ideal for filing fine detail. They are also used to smooth concave surfaces and to enlarge round holes.
Cut with a unique chequered pattern of teeth, these files can create chequering on gun handles and cut serrations into knife blades.
Thread restoring files
Thread restoring files are designed so that their teeth fit into screw threads in order to clean them out or cut away any blockages due to damage.
Crochet files are multi-purpose tools featuring flat faces and rounded edges. They can be used to work inside semicircular grooves and slots with rounded edges.
Round edge joint files
These files are only cut on their rounded edges and can therefore cut semicircular grooves with guaranteed straight sides. They are particularly useful for instrument making.
These diamond-shaped files can work inside tight or wide internal angles.
Also known as screw head files, these files can be used to cut slots into the heads of screws.
Cut on only one side, barrette files are used where precision is a must, e.g. for filing inside the teeth of gear wheels.
Crossing files have two convex faces, one fuller than the other. This suits the file to working on a variety of concave surfaces, such as the insides of clockwork cogs.
Oval files can also be used to file concave surfaces, or they can be flipped on their side to create or shape concave grooves.
Fret end dressing files
These files are used specifically for deburring guitar frets.
Ignition point files
Ignition point files are thin, have integrated handles, and are designed to reach into car ignition circuitry to clean tungsten connector points.
Long angle lathe files
These files have been developed to work when shaping material on a lathe, a machine that spins a workpiece rapidly to allow a DIYer to file in even circles.
Smaller, thinner versions of Swiss pattern machinist's files, needle files are designed to work with much more precision and accuracy.
The long handles of escapement files make them perfect for working inside large clocks and other mechanical devices.
Japanese carving files
Cut with a unique configuration of teeth, Japanese carving files are able to simultaneously shape and smooth wood.
Aluminium files have been developed to work with soft metals, and feature undercut gullets between their teeth to prevent clogging.
Lead float files
Lead float files are similar to aluminium files, but cut even more coarsely to deal with the softest of metals.
Millenicut files have grooves cut into their faces that act as chip breakers. This helps them both to remove material from a surface quickly and remain resistant to clogging, even when working with wood and soft metals.
Vixen files have curved teeth that cut aggressively for rapid shaping of material. In addition, the backward sweep of the curve causes waste material to be pushed out of the file, cleaning out the teeth as it is used.
Flexible files are made of sprung steel and are mounted on handles that can be adjusted to make them concave or convex. As these handles are mounted above the file, they can be used on large, flat surfaces without fear of scraping your knuckles on the workpiece and making mistakes.
Diamond files are made in many of the same shapes as traditional files but, instead of being cut with teeth, they are coated with diamond or tungsten carbide grit. This makes for a very hard abrasive surface that is suitable for use on hardened steel or brittle materials such as glass and ceramic.