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What are the different types of rasp?

What are the different types of rasp?

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A rasp, which is designed to shape or smooth soft materials such as wood and plastic As rasps are limited to use with softer materials, such as wood and plastic, there are fewer varieties of rasp than there are varieties of file.
Image to show a selection of differently shaped rasps The defining feature of rasps is their shape. All of them are used for shaping or finishing wood, but some are more suited to specific uses.

Cabinet rasps

Image of a cabinet rasp showing the cross section and outline Cabinet rasps, also called cabinet files, are half round. Some have one flattened edge.
A DIYer using a cabinet rasp to shape a piece of wood These are the most common type of woodworking rasps. Just like half round files, they can be used for a range of different shaping tasks.

For more information on half round files, see: What is a half round file?

Modeller’s rasps

Image of a DIYer using a modeller's rasp to smooth the edge of a piece of wood that they shaped with a cabinet rasp Modeller’s rasps are similar to cabinet rasps, but smaller and narrower, which makes them more suited to working with detail.

Cranked neck rasps

Image showing the shape of a cranked neck rasp A cranked neck rasp’s cut face is slim and the tang and handle are cranked (bent over to one side). This allows the tool to be used in confined spaces.

Round rasps

Image of a round rasp showing cross section and outline Round rasps are used to smooth the insides of carved detail and file straight or spiral line patterns onto wood surfaces.
Image of a DIYer using a round rasp with a twisting motion to get the best out of the tool Twisting them with each push stroke is the best way to make sure you get the best out of all of the teeth.

Square and knife rasps

Diagram of knife and square cross sections Square and knife rasps are both shaped like their namesake files, and used for similar purposes.
Image of a DIYer using a square rasp to smooth off an internal right angle in their woodworking project However, they are much better suited to cutting wood than they are metal.

For more information, see: What is a square file?and What are knife, pippin and auriform files?

Horse rasps

A horse rasp with set edges, meaning there are no teeth near to the edge of the tool Horse rasps are double-sided tools that are cut with rasp teeth on one side and file teeth on the other. They are mainly used by farriers to care for horses’ hooves.

For more information, see: What is a horse rasp?

Needle rasps

A selection of different needle rasps which are used for shaping fine details in wood Needle rasps are smaller, narrow rasps used to shape small areas where precision is important. They are particularly useful in the making of guitars, violins and other instruments.


A selection of different riffler files Also called riffler files, rifflers are even smaller rasps used in precision carving. Their coarseness is measured in the same way as Swiss pattern files.
A close up of a riffler file head showing that it is stitched with rasp teeth In this case, the term ‘riffler files’ is a bit of a misnomer, as their heads are cut with rasp teeth.

For more information on rifflers, see: What are rifflers?

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