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oaksquare617

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I am looking for some ideas for storing a good bit of files of all sizes. I’ve recently moved and have had to downsize my shop so I can no longer store them out in a stand, and I can’t have them sliding around each other in a box or drawer. The smaller of them I could slip into voids in cardboard, it works well but it can be tough retrieving them. Also, it only works for the very small ones.
I thought I might use a canvas roll like those for carrying blades. Has anyone tried this? Or does anyone have another suggestion? I’m trying to squeeze my old shop into a shoebox without damaging my tools and I’ll entertain any ideas.
Thank you,
-Mike
 

Rorschach

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Depends on the size of the file at hand. Toilet roll/kitchen towel tubes would be good to stop the bigger ones touching.
 

Inspector

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Get a piece of wood and cut grooves (table saw excels at this) to stand the files on edge. Space them so the handles don't hang up on each other. If you alternate the handle directions you can get more in a given space. If you don't have a dry shop soak the board with motor or corrosion inhibiting oil to help keep rusting to a minimum. If oil on the file is a problem when you want to use it give it a quick wipe with acetone to degrease it.

Pete
 

AndyT

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I have a rack for smaller files - a horizontal sheet of plywood with slots and holes.

For bigger files I hot melt glued some offcuts of waste pipe under my saw till, like this.

 

oaksquare617

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Inspector":7214dw41 said:
Get a piece of wood and cut grooves (table saw excels at this) to stand the files on edge. Space them so the handles don't hang up on each other. If you alternate the handle directions you can get more in a given space. If you don't have a dry shop soak the board with motor or corrosion inhibiting oil to help keep rusting to a minimum. If oil on the file is a problem when you want to use it give it a quick wipe with acetone to degrease it.

Pete
Thanks Pete, I think that’s as good an answer as I could have expected. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it was not mine. Thanks again.
 

oaksquare617

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Rorschach":2jo2usty said:
Depends on the size of the file at hand. Toilet roll/kitchen towel tubes would be good to stop the bigger ones touching.
Thanks for your input Rorschach, I appreciate it.
 

oaksquare617

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MikeG.":12bgx561 said:
Stick them loosely in a drawer, but open the and close the drawer slowly and carefully.
Thank you Mike, that sums up what I’ve been doing, I just cannot reign in the strength in these arms.
 

oaksquare617

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AndyT":128iv5bb said:
I have a rack for smaller files - a horizontal sheet of plywood with slots and holes.

For bigger files I hot melt glued some offcuts of waste pipe under my saw till, like this.

If only I had the room Andy, I may have understated the downsizing I’m doing. Thank you, I’ll keep it mind for the upsize I’ll be looking to do ASAP
 

D_W

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shallow drawers. Anything I've ever had of steel that plain in a roll rusts and you can't see it happening. They seem to do better in drawers where they're not touching anything .

I have a great number of files that I use on a regular basis for planemaking and other such oddball stuff (making guitars) and store them flat in drawers and the ones that I use constantly (and wear out quickly) I allow to touch each other and not worry about cosmetics, and also have a second ring of files in something sold here as a "Bucket boss".

Anything used less frequently than those is stored with more care to make sure that rust and damage don't occur before using.

Files will be the plainest steel that you have in your shop and they will be the rust canary, so to speak.
 

AES

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I don't want to confuse the OP, and people who have seen some of my posts about files will know that I'm a bit of an old woman/got a bit of a bee in my bonnet when it comes to not allowing files to clang together. BUT....... I'm sorry to say that I completely disagree with the above posts by both MikeG and D-W.

In my opinion (AND as per what I was taught in a decent apprenticeship), files should NEVER be allowed to knock together - not even gently !

WHY NOT?

Despite what D-W says about the steel used to make files, and whatever the steel spec and the after-cutting heat treatment, etc, that may be used to create the finished file, the result is ALWAYS a piece of metal which is about the hardest piece of metal you're ever likely to come across in the average workshop - certainly in hand tool terms anyway.

And the general materials properties "rule" applies here - hardness = brittleness. Just to reinforce that general point, how hard is the average piece of wood compared to the average piece of glass? And which of those is the most brittle?

So allowing two hard (and therefore pretty brittle) pieces of metal to clang together, even gently, WILL result in damage to whichever of the two are slightly "softer", or more likely in the case of files, a file with a very sharp tooth form will get EASILY damaged if banged even gently against another file - Yes, even if you "shut the drawer" VERY gently!

For more detailed info please check out the sticky posted in the General Metalworking section to see some ideas about storing files (it's a long post, sorry, but there's a fair bit of files and filing info there):

files-and-filing-t108361.html

Amongst other things you'll see pix of some pretty coarse-toothed files in that post, and I can definitely guarantee you that if you just store them loose in a drawer (or anywhere else) without any protection between their cutting faces, then teeth WILL get damaged. That's a 100% certainty.

So what if teeth do get damaged?

Well as I also say in the above-linked post, although they may not look like it at first glance, decent quality files are not only precision cutting tools (if used correctly), but they're also pretty expensive these days. Personally I want to protect my "investment" (even if only inherited from my Dad, or bought as a cheap job lot at a car boot sale). Files with a chipped tooth will make the job of producing a quality result harder - if not impossible.

So if you want to produce the best quality precision work like I imagine D-W does when he makes his planes, you definitely do NOT want bits of teeth chipped out of your files - especially not if the chips are "only" because you've allowed them to clang together!

Frankly I just cannot contemplate treating tools in such a cavalier fashion. And although I may well be more than a bit pernickety than most when it comes to files, I know I'm not the only one.

So if you're talking about storing several (or more?) files in a workshop, then the ideas posted above are all workable it seems to me. What anyone does depends to a large extent on what suits each user personally - corrugated cardboard; a wooden base with slots in it; bits of plastic pipe off cuts; anything you like really, as long as you NEVER allow files to clang together (any more than you should ever allow thread cutting taps to clang together - another example).

And as also said in that above-linked post, even if you're only taking a couple of files to an on-site job on a "just in case" basis, if nothing else, a couple of bits of newspaper wrapped around each file will definitely be better than nothing.

For my own storage ideas, the above-linked post shows that some files in my collection came in "pretty little" plastic pockets - which I think are fine for protecting files as long as they last. And I've also shown what I've done for singles, making some very crude "chisel-type/tool rolls" out of fabric, hot glue, and office staples. For my bigger files you'll also see a drawer in my tool chest which I've "lined" with foam plastic - it's just a cheapo backpackers' sleeping mat, cut to fit the bottom of the drawer, with additional narrow strips of the same stuff simply laid on edge between the cutting face of each file (which are also laid on edge in the drawer - but note that I have very few files with permanently fixed handles. If you have permanently attached handles you'll need thick foam between each file).

But whatever idea you actually use is, IMO, MUCH less important than simply making sure that files cannot clang together.

Finally, although these days I'm lucky enough to have a workshop in the basement (cellar) of my house (where I have zero rust problems), I've previously used various outdoor sheds etc, in the past (including when living in Singapore, which has a VERY humid climate). In all that time I have NEVER had a bad rust problem with files stored in any kind of "tool roll", home-made or otherwise.

So I disagree with D-W when he says that files are prone to rusting - not in my experience they're not - or certainly not all that much when compared with many other bare metal surfaces to be found in the average workshop.

But if you do find a bit of rust on a file, removing it is just about the easiest job ever - again the post linked to above will show you suitable, widely used file cleaning/de-clogging "brushes" (which should BTW, be used after the file is used each time anyway). And if all else fails then the electrolytic de rusting bath (see Youtube) will solve all your rusted files problems literally over night (ideal for those worthless-looking crudded-up files you bought in a cheap job lot at the car boot sale/flea market).

That's my take anyway, HTH.
 

dannyr

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Good for you for storing your files carefully but I have to say I don't think they're quite that delicate - if so you surely would run a mile from any boot sale files (which have almost certainly clashed hard together a thousand times). I might nearly agree with you if you were just referring to the ever-moving site workers tool box, but not a fairly gently used drawer in a workshop. I have bought some nice hand stitched cabinet-makers rasps from fleamarkets and the tooth damage, if any, is patently long-time heavy wear-type use or use on harder materials, not brittle chipping from files banging together.
Regarding rusting - if you just have new condition files/rasps with their usually lightly phosphated finish, then very careful handling (and gentle use on softer woods) will preserve the finish and avoid rust, but if this is compromised even a little and the file not used for a while then I too find rust can be a problem, but a light oil can help avoid this.
 

AES

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OK mate, each to his own.

Above I've said clearly what is my own experience (and what I was taught). And all that works for me (and needs little effort BTW).

And if you care to follow the link that I posted above you will see (somewhere in that post) that I specifically excluded rasps from all those discussions - from the little I know of rasps, their teeth are different to files for metal working anyway - I've only ever used rasps on balsa and ply (model aero).

But fine, if you do something else to what I've suggested above, and if that works out OK for you, that's great.
 

D_W

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A little bit of context for my comments. I don't know much about files other than experience, and I am a heavy user of files. When you make steel planes with them and plane irons, no matter how gentle you want to be, they will wear fast.

Here is a picture of two files that are in one of my drawers - both have been used a little bit. These are a consumable to me. For an XHP iron (think PM V11) one of these files will file the slot and certain parts for two irons and then they are toast. I could have them sharpened at a honing service here in the US, but these files are $9 shipped, so it's probably not worth it.

I use them for this purpose because they are the best for it from what I've found (Better than a nicholson or something similar, domestic or not).

So, you can see that In a matter of a shop day, I can ruin one. I don't have many files other than swiss types that are kept in their own boxes so that they don't get damage, but unfortunately, I have a vintage set of supremely well made needle files in rust paper, and some of them rusted.

https://i.imgur.com/J59tZll.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/65NJ12O.jpg

There's just a tiny bit of wear on the interrupted side of the front file -I've used it for something, but I can't remember what. These files have handles on them, so if they touch, not much will happen to the teeth. I've had them for over a year. The back file has been used to make a plane iron, maybe for other things. the heavy wear in the center comes from that being the ideal area for cutting.

This should illustrate how different wear from use would be vs. wear from a drawer (I probably open the "file drawer" in my planemaking toolbox 5 times a week).

As far as rusting, some will depend on what you're comparing to. Fresh cast may rust slightly faster than files, but as far as chisels and plane irons go - the files will rust before the plane irons and chisels unless you have older chisels with really really plain steel. The only part of a plane iron set that I can think of rusting faster is mild steel cap irons (they seem to rust faster than hardened steel).

Last year, or the year before, I posed the idea of making chisels and knifes from files because they are very plain steel and generally high carbon. I received several pieces of advice that they aren't that, but rather something on the surface and wouldn't be suitable for either if I hammered them. Well, I hammered them and they make great chisels and knives and have a strong spark after forging. I haven't yet found a file that didn't turn into a great knife or chisel, but they very high spark often corresponds with low rust resistance (HSS and PM V11 spark less and both are rust resistant more than carbon steel -the V11 is stainless).

At any rate, I think experience is important here - if someone has files and they find damage from storage to be greater than damage from use (e.g., someone who does lots of work with soft metals and surfaces that don't wear a file fast), they should change something. I don't find that here.
 

D_W

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The comment about the handles and not much will happen - I should've been clearer - it's hard for them to lay against each other flat, but they certainly can knock about a little bit.

since that is my "file drawer" in the bench tool box, I don't generally slam it for two reasons:
* damaging files (I'm sure I could be conscientious than I am
* there are so many files and floats and other such things in it that if you slam it, they will turn into a teepee somewhere and prevent the drawer from opening. I must get a picture of it to torture the file sensitive :D
 

D_W

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The file drawer, for the sensitive types :)

https://i.imgur.com/K6QSnqf.jpg

I haven't paid that much attention to how much files move in this drawer other than that I don't generally slam doors and drawers.

I opened it and closed it last night and noticed no sound from anything moving.

It looks like I fibbed, too - there's a big grobet swiss barrette file right in the middle of the drawer. This is a file I would take a little better care of as I want to do all heavy work with cheaper files and save files like this one (three times as expensive, perhaps 5 times as expensive as an eased saw file (eased meaning the corners ground off), but I managed to ruin the end of it on - of all things - a cap iron that must've had high chromium content. Mild steel, but in going to widen the slot a little bit (LN cap iron), the cut area right around the slot was super hard and ruined the teeth on this file in a few strokes. It's probably survived relatively unharmed in this and the file bucket for 10 years.

I'll send it for liquid honing to see how well that works.
 

AndyT

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Ok, in case anyone else is not downsizing, has bought files on and off for nearly fifty years and can't resist the occasional 'new old stock' bargain, here are a few pictures from my basement lair.

This is a rack for needle files. It's bits of scrap wood with a strip of thick steel underneath, so it's very stable.



This is a nice tidy drawer in a little engineer's cabinet my neighbour was going to take to the dump



But this is the simplest way - just keep the files in the box the manufacturer used!

 

MikeG.

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Lay a piece of towel loosely in the bottom of your drawer, with lots of rucks and folds. It stops stuff moving around on a slippery drawer bottom.
 
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