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What is a handy file?

What is a handy file?

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Image of a DIYer smoothing metal and another DIYer roughing out a shape in wood Handy files are machinist’s files that resemble hand files in appearance, but their unique tooth configuration means that you can use one tool for both rough, rapid filing and finer finishing work.

Their versatility makes them useful for DIY tasks around the home. For this reason, they are also known as homeowner’s files.

Wonkee Donkee marvels at how handy a handy file really is!

What are the characteristics of a handy file?

Image showing a handy file and its cross section

Cross section and profile

Handy files are blunt, and rectangular in cross section.

Image of the different cuts on a handy file

Cut

They are cut on both faces and on one edge. However, the defining feature of a handy file is that they are cut differently on both sides! One side is coarse and double cut, the other is smooth and single cut.

Image of a toolbox that is empty due to DIYer thinking ahead and packing a handy file rather than two separate files This prevents DIYers from having to carry two files around and saves space in the tool box.
An indication of the lengths in which handy files are usually available

Size

Handy files are usually 200mm (8 inches) long.

The American flag, representing American pattern files

Swiss or American?

Handy files are American pattern files.

Handy file variations

Image to illustrate the difference between curved and shear cut Some handy files are curve cut on one side and shear cut on the other.
A piece of aluminium, a soft metal that can easily clog files if they are not undercut These files perform exactly the same function as other handy files, but are suitable for use on soft metals such as lead and aluminium, and resistant to clogging.

For more information, see: What are aluminium and lead float filesand What is a file’s cut?

Image to illustrate that a farmer's own file is single cut on both sides, but coarser on one side than the other Rather than being double cut on one face, farmer’s own files are single cut on both faces, but coarser on one side of the file than the other. This suits them to sharpening a wide range of gardening tools.

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