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What effect do cut and coarseness have on filing?

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Image to show that files of a different coarseness will produce different finishes on the material you intend to smooth Files will leave different finishes on a piece of material, depending on their coarseness.
Image illustrating the difference between fineness and coarseness The opposite of coarseness is fineness. A fine file has thinner teeth that are close together. A coarse file has thicker teeth that are further apart.
A DIYer checking the finish on a piece of metal that they have filed with a smooth file The finer the teeth cut into the file, the smoother the finish you can achieve. Using the smoothest files, you can create a mirror finish on steel.

This process may take longer but it’s worth persevering!

Image of a DIYer removing material quickly using a coarse carving float The coarser the teeth cut into the file, the quicker it will remove material from your workpiece, but the rougher the finish it will leave.
A single cut file with teeth cut in just one direction on the file's face Single cut files also produce a smoother finish than double cut files. This is because their teeth are straight rather than diamond shaped, allowing for a more consistent cut.
Image to show smooth and coarse files and how the size of the gaps between their teeth affects the finish they leave on the material on which they are used Using a single cut, grade 6 Swiss pattern file will produce the smoothest available finish, whereas using a coarse, double cut American pattern file will produce the roughest finish.

For more information on the way that coarseness is graded, see: What is a file’s coarseness?

Wonkee Donkee explains how starting with a rough file and finishing with a smooth file and leave your work piece looking neat

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