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The File and Filing - Shop Talks with the Young Mechanics
by W. H. Vandervoort, 1898

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A piece of high-grade crucible steel, forged to shape, ground, cut and carefully tempered, forms that tool so indispensable to the mechanic-the file.

The file maker is no longer compelled to forge his blanks from stock of unsuitable proportion, but receives from the steel manufacturers stock of the required cross-section to make all standard shapes. This reduces the forging to a minimum, it being only necessary to cut the stock to the required lengths, to draw down the point and form the tang. The latter operation being very rapidly performed under power hammers.

The National Association of File Manufacturers prescribe to the steel makers the forms of cross-sections they require.

Consequently, all makers of file steel can furnish any section correct to gauge. In Fig. 13 are shown the correct cross-sections of file steel for all the shapes in general use. Each section is for an 8-inch file, full scale.

The names of the files made from steel of these sections are, referring to the numbers of the figure: I, “Hand” ; 2, “Flat”; 3, “Mill”; 4, “Pillar”; 5, “Warding”; 6, “Square”; 7, “Round”; 8, “Half-round”; 9, “Three-square”; 10, “Knife”; 11, “Pit-saw”; 12, “Crossing”; 13, “Tumbler”; 14 Cross-cut”; 15, “Feather-edge”; 16, “Cant-saw”; 17, “Cant-file”; 18, “Cabinet”; 19, “Shoe-rasp”; 20, “Rasp.”

It will be noticed that many of these files are named from the form of their cross-section, and that those so named are the ones most used for general work; while the others receive their names from the special character of the work they are expected to be used upon.

It will also be noted that the stock for files of rectangular cross-section may be classified as to thickness as follows: “Square,” the thickest; “Pillar,” “Hand,” “Flat,” “Rasp and “Warding.” As to width, “Hand” is the widest; “Flat,” “Rasp”,” “Mill” and “Warding” are the same width; “Pillar” materially narrower, and “Square” the narrowest.

The “Half-round” is not a full semi-circle, the arc being about one-third of the full circle. On the other hand, the “Pit-saw” is a full half circle in section. The “Three-square,” “Cant-saw” and differ in section in their angles, the former having equal angles, 60 degrees, and equal sides, the next 35-35 and 110-degree angles, and the latter 30-30 and 120-degree angles.

The length of a file is measured from point to heal, and does not include the tang. The tang is usually made spike shaped to receive a plain ferrule handle. Some makers modify the form of tang to fit patented handles.

As forges, the blank for a “Hand” file, Fig. 15, is parallel in thickness from heel to middle and tapered from middle to point, making the point about one-half the thickness of the stock. The edges of the blank are usually left parallel. They are, however, sometimes drawn in slightly at the point.

The “Flat” file blank, Fig.16, is parallel in both of its longitudinal section from heel to middle and tapered in both sections from middle to point, the thickness of point being about two-thirds and width about one-half that of the stock.

For the “Mill” file the blank is parallel in thickness from heel to point, and usually tapered to about three-fourths the width of the stock. The “Mill” file is often made blunt-that is, of equal width and thickness throughout its length.

The blank for the “Warding” file is tapered in width from heel to point and is of uniform thickness. Aside from width, the “Pillar” file is similar to the “Hand” file. The “Pillar” file is also made is “narrow” and extra narrow patterns, the extra narrow approximating a square in section.

The “Three-square,” “Square” and “Round” are also made in slim and blunt forms. The “Slim” is a file of regular length, but smaller cross-section, and the “Blunt” of equal cross-section from heel to point, being either “slim” or regular.

After forging, the blanks are thoroughly annealed in annealing furnaces, the operation taking from twenty-four to thirty-six hours. When the blank comes from the furnace, it is twisted and scaly, and must be subjected to a “straightening” process, after which the scale is removed by “grinding” on very heavy grind-stones. The blanks are next draw-filed to make them perfectly smooth and even, after which they are ready for the cutting.


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