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What is a barrette file?

What is a barrette file?

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Close up of the back of a barrette file, which is curved and not cut with any teeth Barrette files are machinist’s files that are easily identified by the fact they are only cut on one face, meaning there is a large, safe surface that is referred to as the ‘back’.

This means only one part of the file can cut a workpiece, leading to a great degree of security against mistakes.

What are the characteristics of a barrette file?

Diagram of a trapezoid cross section

Cross section

Barrette files usually have trapezoid cross sections, but sometimes they may be triangular.

Image of a barrette file showing its outline and safe back and edges


Barrette files taper in both width and thickness, which allows them to access small spaces.

Image of a barrette file, which always has a safe back and one cut face


They are double cut, but only on the flat face. The uncut face is referred to as the ‘back’.

Image showing a DIYer using a barrette file to work on a narrow slot with the safe edge of the tool labelled This means that they can be used for filing keyways, internal angles in slots and for general finishing and deburring, without fear of accidental wear to another surface during the filing process.
DIYer filing the teeth of a wooden gear with a barrette file When combined with their taper, the fact that only one of their faces is cut makes them perfect for precision filing on parts such as gears.
Wonkee Donkee explains that it's difficult to make a mistake with a barrette file
An indication of the range of lengths in which barrette files are usually available


Barrette files are usually available in lengths of 75mm (3 inches) to 200mm (8 inches).

Flag of Switzerland - home of the Swiss pattern file invented by F. L. Grobet in the 19th Century

Swiss or American?

Barrette files are Swiss pattern files.

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