What is a Swiss pattern file?

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

Swiss pattern files earned their name from the Swiss inventor and toolmaker F. L. Grobet, who invented the first precision file making machine in 1836.

 
     
 Image of an instrument maker filing a clarinet key to the right shape and size 

Swiss pattern files are most often used for fine shaping and finishing tasks, such as working on machine parts and musical instruments.

 
     
 Micro files, produced only as swiss pattern files 

Unlike American-pattern files, Swiss pattern files are produced and made in very small sizes.

 
     
 Image to show a watchmaker using a swiss pattern file to deburr the shaft of a gear 

Swiss pattern files are generally regarded as being better at precision filing tasks than American pattern files due to the fact they are produced in smaller dimensions, and because they have been used in the watch and jewellery making industries for over a century.

 
     
 Image of a crossing file showing its outline and cut 

Some examples of Swiss Pattern files include pippin, barrette and crossing files. Crossing files are used for deburring and finishing the insides of watch gears and teeth.

 

For more information, see: What are knife, pippin and auriform files?, What is a barrette file?and What are crossing and oval files?

 
     
   

Coarseness

 
 Image illustrating that the smoothest of the Swiss pattern files is grade 6 while the coarsest is grade 00 

Swiss pattern files usually come in grades from 00 (the roughest) to 6 (the finest). Very rarely, you may find a grade 8 Swiss pattern file, which will be exceptionally fine. However these only tend to be produced in the form of needle and escapement files.

 

See: What are needle and escapement files?

 
     
 Image of a file cutting machine as used by Swiss file and tool maker F. L. Grobet 

The different grades of coarseness are named after the numbered settings that were used in the original file-making machines.

 
     
   

Riffler files

 
 Riffler files, which are cut with rasp teeth but follow the Swiss pattern convention for measuring coarseness 

Riffler files are double-ended files with a plethora of differently shaped heads, for use in mould and jewellery making.

 
     
 A close up of riffler teeth to show how the coarseness can be measured 

They are also made with Swiss pattern cuts, whether they have conventional file teeth or rasp teeth.

 

For more information, see: What are rifflers?

 
     
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