Types of file

Tang - designed to be inserted into a handle for the file
Heel - also known as the shoulder, connects the tang to the file
Teeth - the cutting ridges on the file's surface
Side - the surface of the file
Edge - the edge of a file is either round or square and will sometimes have teeth cut into them for filing. Usually one edge will have no teeth and is called a safe edge
Back - the rounded side of all half-round files
Length - the distance between the heel and the point of the file

The anatomy of a file
Left to right: tang, heel, teeth, side, point, edge, back

Know your cut

There are three main grades of cut to a file:
Bastard - coarse, heavy weight teeth for rapid and initial stock removal
Second - medium weight teeth for moderate stock removal
Smooth - fine teeth for light stock removal and smooth finishing

Know your cut
Left to right: Bastard, Second, Smooth

Using your file

Before you start filing it's important to hold the work securely. Here we have used the Axminster Trade Vices Engineer's Vice.

1. File one way
Your metal file will only work on the away stroke, use both hands to hold the file and apply even pressure.

File one way
1. File one way

2. Lift file clear of work on return stroke
Your metal file will produce a better finish and last longer if you remove the file completely from the work.

Lift file clear of work on return stroke
2. Lift file clear of work on return stroke

3. Draw filing
Any type of single cut metal file can be used to produce smooth square edges.

Draw filing
3. Draw filing

4. A clean file
Pinning or clogging of a metal file can cause a rough scratchy finish to your work and damage the teeth of the file. Use a file card frequently to keep your file at its best.

Cleaning a file
4. A clean file