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What is a file’s profile?

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Image of a blunt file next to a tapered file to show the difference between the two The term ‘profile’ refers to whether or not a file narrows towards its point. Those that do are referred to as ‘tapered’ and those that don’t are referred to as ‘blunt’.

Blunt files

Image to show a blunt file which does not taper towards the point A blunt file’s cross section does not change from the point of the file all the way to the heel, where it will slope off to form the tang.
Image of a hand file and a chainsaw file to illustrate different types of blunt file Examples of this include the hand file, which keeps the same rectangular cross section all the way through, and chainsaw files, which most often have a perfectly cylindrical body.
Wonkee Donkee explains what blunt means in the context of describing the outline of a file

Tapered files

Image of a round file with a taper towards the point A tapered file narrows towards the point. This can happen in width, in thickness, or in both.
Image of a round and three square file to illustrate files with tapers Examples of tapered files include round files and three square files, which taper in both width and thickness towards a true point.

File width and thickness

Image to warn DIYers that width and thickness are not usually used as measurements for files but as indicators of how the file tapers Measurements are not provided for the width or thickness of files. They are only relevant when talking about taper.
Diagram illustrating how to find a file's width


A file’s width is measured across its face, as shown. In the case of round files, the width is the widest point across the file.

Diagram illustrating how to measure a file's thickness


A file’s thickness is the depth of its edge. If the file isn’t flat, thickness is measured as the deepest point of the file behind one of the faces.

Why are some files tapered?

Image of a DIYer increading the diameter of a pre-drilled hole by using a round file Some files are tapered so that they are narrow and/or thin enough at the point to fit into small spaces, or to enlarge holes. For example, a round file can be used to enlarge a small hole.
Image of a DIYer sharpening a saw with a taper saw file

Is this an advantage?

For some tasks, such as sharpening saws or working in confined areas, this can be advantageous.

Image of a DIYer using a pillar file to work on just one side of the square hole, taking advantage of the pillar file's safe edge However, for others, such as shaping slots or sharpening tools like axes or knives, it may be preferable to have a blunt file so that the thickness of the file is consistent. This means that you can use the entire length of the tool without worrying about the cutting surface changing shape through the stroke.

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