What is a file?

 
     
     
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 A file, a tool that can be used for smoothing, deburring, shaping and sharpening 

A file is a length of metal with teeth cut into at least one of its sides that is used for shaping or finishing (smoothing off) a piece of material.

 
     
 A DIYer using a single cut file to deburr a piece of sheet metal 

Files can be used to remove unwanted sharp slivers from a piece of metal that are left along its corners after it has been cut or sharpened. This process is known as 'deburring'.

 
     
 Wood and plastic, two of the softer materials that files have been designed to smooth and shape 

They are most often used in metalworking, but have also been developed for use on wood, plastic and composites (such as glass-reinforced plastic or the metal compound used in tennis rackets).

 
     
 A rasp, which is designed to shape or smooth soft materials such as wood and plastic 

Depending on the arrangement of their teeth, files may also be referred to as 'rasps'.

 

For more information on file teeth, see: What is a file's cut?

 
     
 A knife and a saw, both of which can be sharpened by hand using files 

Files are also used to sharpen other tools such as saws and knives.

 
     
 A lock, which relies on smooth movement between carefully filed parts 

Precision crafting trades, such as locksmithing and watch making, use files for precise finishes on small parts.

 
     
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