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Repurposing a blunt file?

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Robbo3

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There is a company in the US that uses a very fine abrasive blasting process to sharpen files and rasps. They have been doing it since 1932. I don’t know it’ll there is a British or European company doing the same.


Pete
The 2 files I posted about in the Files and Filing sticky were apparently returned to my American friend in January, sharpened by the above company. He tells me they look like new.
 

MikeG.

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As you know everything about everything, in a most certain fashion......
Ta-ta. I don't need your sarcasm. Enjoy the forum without any interaction with me. 27 posts in and you're making enemies, so you might want to have a little think about your posting style.

Oh, and this?

........ MikeG has decreed that, since its on the internet, it must be wrong. Well, unless it's a MikeG pronouncement. .....
Apart from you misrepresenting what I said, I covered that:
including this
 
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shed9

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Mr G,

As you know everything about everything, in a most certain fashion, I believe you should publish it all here in a Very Long Thread.........You know, from experience rather than some dismissive prejudice offered in the reedy-voiced tone of an auld schoolmarm. :)
Tread carefully Eshmiel, that said MikeG will eventually get bored of being self-righteous and rude to you that he will be forced to put you on his naughty list and click his ignore box. Your comments were quite balanced in my opinion, suggesting there were claims being made but more detail was needed, you were clearly taken out of context to fit the agenda of the response you had. And yes the irony of his own comments are lost in the ether. I see so many new (and old) members who simply give up because of responses like MikeG's. Stick with it, I'm interested in what you have to say.
 

Eshmiel

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Tread carefully Eshmiel, that said MikeG will eventually get bored of being self-righteous and rude to you that he will be forced to put you on his naughty list and click his ignore box. Your comments were quite balanced in my opinion, suggesting there were claims being made but more detail was needed, you were clearly taken out of context to fit the agenda of the response you had. And yes the irony of his own comments are lost in the ether. I see so many new (and old) members who simply give up because of responses like MikeG's. Stick with it, I'm interested in what you have to say.
Mr G has banished me already from his club of admirers. I will continue to read his own offerings to the forum, though, attempting to sift his fine experiential knowledge from the other stuff.

He has deemed my sarks as "enemy" rather than an attempt to get him to justify his somewhat experience-free judgements on this and that. I suspect he wishes for the sort of forum that's a mutual admiration club rather than a vigorous discussion group in which various matters are examined, argued over and eventually resolved into something of an improved understanding for all participants. One slip from admiring means "enemy" status!

I will refrain from the psycho-analysis concerning this behaviour, though. ;)

Eshmiel
 

AES

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Gentlemen, Gentlemen, please!

One thing I would point out is that the examples of re-purposed files that we have seen (my bearing scraper and Andy T's dies - very neat that Andy T, never seen that "trick" before!) is that virtually NO physical shocks are involved in their new usages.

Files are of course made (including their hardening and tempering) with the expectation that they will not receive physical shocks, and so I can well imagine what might happen if a file was repurposed into a turners' tool and was then used to turn, say, a square piece of hardwood into a table leg. Especially when starting off with the square, the regular "bump bump bump" COULD well cause a brittle file/turners' tool to snap (OR bend badly) IF it had not been correctly softened (to re-shape it) and then re-tempered (to resist such shocks). I could therefore well IMAGINE what could occur IF re-tempering was not effective in some way (e.g. uneven heating so uneven temper).

But AFAIC, that's all theory, so I don' KNOW (never done it, don't turn wood).

As far as acid "sharpening" is concerned I'm glad member Robbo 3 has come in on this because I remember his post on that subject when I first posted my "tutorial" on files. Robbo 3 says he KNOWS from results that this process works because he's had positive results from it. And as been pointed out previously in this thread, there's at least one company in the US which offers this service - that's where Robbo 3's refurbished files came from.

As I posted earlier, speaking purely THEORETICALLY (because I've never tried it myself, and had never even heard of it before Robbo 3), IF a file's teeth are completely worn away, I still don't see how this works.

But based on an "unbiased, eyewitness account" (Robbo 3) it seems that it DOES work. Perhaps, as I suggested, this only works if the teeth of a file are NOT completely worn, only partially worn. Dunno.

But I think it would be to the GREAT benefit of this Forum if people could calm down a bit and state their views, opinions, and experiences in a factual rather than emotional way.

This subject is NOT politics (thank goodness). This is FACT, though as suggested above, these FACTS could well differ in different cases - file tempered correctly/not tempered correctly/used/not used on "lumpy" turning jobs - and/or files not completely worn out recovered but by an acid process.

As said above, I just dunno - in either case - but for people to input so much vitriol into expressing what are clearly opinions in 99% of cases is IMO to the detriment of this whole Forum - and most definitely of this thread.

"Come on chaps - and chapesses". I don't think you Eshmiel have been here long enough to remember a certain member Jacob, but most of the rest of us definitely do, & that's including you Mike G.

And unless you hold the necessary qualifications Eshmiel (and even in the unlikely event that you do) IMO we most definitely do NOT want ANY psycho- analysis here thank you very much (especially NOT at amateur level). :mad:

AND also IMO we definitely do NOT want a return to the days of "Jacob-like" of posts either!

So again, "come on" folks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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MikeG.

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Well, seeing as it has caused so much interest (.....rolling eyes emoticon here...), I'll back up what I said previously on the matter of so-called sharpening of files with acid.

Some while ago I took all of my gunky and rusty old files and soaked them in vinegar for 24 hours, then brushed off the surface, washed them down, dried them, and then tried them. They were all hugely improved. Some, however, although much improved, still weren't great. So, I did it again with those, for a week this time, to see if that made any difference. So, I started with what I knew to be clean but bluntish files. The thing is, I ended up with clean but bluntish files. The second acid bath made no difference. The first one, which had removed all the gunk and any surface rust, was the one that made the big jump in performance.

So, if I say, as I did, that the acid bath thing works by cleaning rather than sharpening, it's because I did the experiment. It's a bit rich of someone who hasn't done the experiment to tell me I'm wrong because of something he read on the internet. I don't mind the discussion, the argument, or telling me I'm wrong. Not in the least. But I don't need the sarcasm. That's why my ignore list just got longer.
 

Coyote

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What is it about sharpening that draws out so much ire? No other topic seems to generate such a passionate "debate".
 

AndyT

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Here are two more examples.
IMG_20200911_102551949.jpg


This is from a 1976 Arnold and Walker catalogue. They described no 201 as "a worn out file pierced with 5 graded die holes" - so the idea was not unknown.

And this is from the Russell collection book, p 498. The turnscrew in the middle is made from an old file, dated as 18th century. It's not strictly essential to make such a nicely carved boxwood handle, but I think it does increase the new tool's chances of survival!

IMG_20200911_102509040.jpg
 

okeydokey

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Well for my pennyworth a worn out old file is just that - fit for recycling as scrap!
The amount of hassle that others have described to make something else that probably will never be as good as a purpose made item imo seems a waste of time and resources - well Ive said it - maybe the only person with that opinion, ah well
 

AndyT

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Well, I see it as sensible thrift.

I've seen more examples in friends' collections. A good place to look would be at the irons in small, user made chamfer planes or drip planes. Nowadays some people would turn to eBay and order a piece of new steel, but a generation ago or for those who dislike waste, files were a ready source of decent quality steel. If a suitable piece could be snapped off, it would only need grinding and honing to be put to use and would hold a decent edge.
 

--Tom--

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If people have worn out old files they are still useful. The old Sheffield files from good makers are usually water hardening high carbon steel that can be great for forging as can be differential hardened with nice hamon.
 

Eshmiel

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What is it about sharpening that draws out so much ire? No other topic seems to generate such a passionate "debate".
It's a bit puzzling - the "so much ire" and "enemy" comments concerning some rather mild interchanges about this subject. Perhaps some have been over-sensitised to controversy and animated discussion by something AES calls the Jacob effect? However, I will consider myself told-off and will stand in the naughty corner for half an hour until I come to be a quiet little boy who does not ask awkward questions of teacher.

Well, for a bit. :)

Meanwhile, we have still not bottomed this business of chemical sharpening of files. I can't find any definitive experiments on the interweb demonstrating for or against. As AES mentions, some seem to have success but others (MikeG, for example) have tried themselves and failed.

I suspect that it depends on how blunt the file is. As AES mentions, if the teeth are effectively gone, they surely couldn't be etched back by a mere dip in acid. A "guided etching" process would have to occur, as it seems to in other metal-etching technologies.

But files can be more or less blunt, I suppose. If there are substantial teeth remaining with only their tips blunt, is there some acid-bath effect that somehow sharpens the tips by taking metal from the lower sections of the teeth? Where is DW with his microscope?

Eshmiel
 

shed9

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For what it's worth inputting my own experience on this, I've been acid cleaning files for many years. I have a small machine shop (Bridgeports, Weiss, Syil, etc) alongside my woodworking and have treated machinist files with various strengths of acid's from plain old vinegar to hydrochloric. I have also cleaned some Oberg-cut wood files quite successfully and some wood rasps. A few things to note from my experience.

It does work (mostly) and will generally improve the use of older dirty files. It is worth it if the file/s had value in the first place, is not actually worn out but is not cutting optimally. If it's a cheap file in the first place, replace it for like for like and you're back to square one. If it's a more trusted brand such as some of the older Nicholson, Sandvik and Simonds files then it's probably worth the effort. Some very important aspects of this that often gets missed though. Don't just throw your old rusty files in together in the solution, wait an indeterminate time period (or multiple attempts) and then fish them out hoping for Harry Potter magic to do it's thing. You need to clean the files as much as you can with a suitable brush, then clean with some solution such as sodium carbonate (washing soda to you and me) and rinse with as much clean water as you can. Then clean again and when finally finished, clean it again. You need to be meticulous on this to get best results. Soak the file (not files) in your acidic solution but remember to add acid to water, not the other way around. The time you wait will depend on how fine the cut is, volume of metal, the strength of your acid solution and how much chemical activity needs to happen. Do not use metal as your bath container, it will affect the results and make sure you either place the file in a position that the bubbles can escape or at least turn the file occasionally to release them. I tend to use a mild solution and minimise the time, checking frequently to get the best results. People will have different expectations so experiment with timeframes. Do not leave them in for hours and definitely not for weeks.

I have seen people do this and take microscopic imaging of the before and after results on some of the machining forums in the past with obvious benefits. For what it's worth it does make a difference and extracts more life out of a tool that would ordinarily require expensive recutting or disposal. Just be realistic, files are consumables and sometimes they need to be retired to the big bin in the sky.

Just my opinion and experience above, not saying it's the only way but if you have tried unsuccessfully before without some of the above steps, I'd encourage you to try again. If you haven't tried it, I personally think it's worth it. If you use any of the higher strength acids, please be careful and take safety precautions - goes without saying I know but it's the internet and all that.
 

AndyT

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Ok, if we want to discuss acid sharpening of files, I can offer a historical perspective.
Way back in the olden days before the Internet, people had already started enjoying woodwork, metalwork and suchlike. They bought monthly papers which had sections for readers' letters, tips and queries.
One such was "Amateur Work, Illustrated" . This little snippet was in the March 1884 issue:

filesharpening1884.jpg


But I can't say whether it works - it's just some old bloke in the Isle of Man, hiding his identity behind some cryptic initials... ;)
 

MorrisWoodman12

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....... Though the number of times I actually need a scraper are very few and far between these days (scraping in new white metal bearings for your Ford 100E crankshaft has gone out of fashion you know......
Ah! The old Ford 100E. My first car. Goodness knows how far I drove in my old Anglia.
Sorry, off topic I know but .........
 

johnbaz

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The files need to be thoroughly degreased for the Sulphuric acid to eat in to the steel, From new they have a coating to stop them rusting, They may have also picked up oil from the metal that was filed and even just greasy hands wiping off the filings!

I used to work in a machine shop more than 40 years ago, When the beds started wearing, A crew of old men came in to scrape them back to true, They didn't buy theexpensive scrapers, The used old files with the ends ground correctly, Bearing in mined that the beds were around 12' long they sat there scraping for hours with a woodbine hanging off their lips, Once it was all trued up they cut sort of 'feathers' in to the beds at equal distances, I asked what they were for, 'To hold small amounts of lubricarion' was the reply!- They really knew their stuff, I wonder if there's still tradesmen like these still around today :unsure:

Another repurpose for old files is to make knives from them, As they are, They're too brittle for knives so they have a less extreme temper once ground (Have to be annealed first so they're soft enough to work) but when the teper is done correctly, They hold an edge second to none and for much longer than stainless steel blades (y)



I have a load of old files in my cupboard at work that I was going to make in to knives, I totally forgot about them! I need to make a small furnace to heat the steel first too!

By the way, It was said that modern files aren't any good for knives as they're a different type of steel to the old ones and need strange tempering processes!


John :)
 
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