File Recommendations

Discussion in 'New to Knifemaking' started by firstcapitalfirearms, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. I would like some recommendations on what files I should have to start out with knife making. I am a Nicholson fan. Any advice is greatly appreciated.


  2. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    KenH likes this.
  3. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

    Ed beat me to putting Ed's link on files up. While Home Depot files might not be the "best" files around, it does seem like they're the best deal.
  4. C Craft

    C Craft Well-Known Member

    Nicholson's used to be unbeatable but since they moved one plant to Mexico and the other to Brazil they are cr@p! They say the Brazilian made ones are better than the Mexican made ones but I can't vouch for that as I haven't tried the Brazilian ones yet! If you can find old stock Nicholson's they are great. I recently went to an out of the way hardware store that carries about anything and found some old new stock. I need to go back again as I bought everyone I could afford that day! I have even resorted to going to pawn shops and digging the pile of tools, looking for Nicholson files. I have found a couple of those!
  5. scott.livesey

    scott.livesey Dealer - Purveyor

  6. C Craft

    C Craft Well-Known Member

    Scott are those the Mexican ones? I got a small Nicholson bastard file from the local hardware and no matter how well you card it a few passes and its done and that is pre-HT. I needed a triangle file for working on some simple decorative filework. Nicholson pre-HT and before I was done all three sides quit working. I then remember some triangle files my father had in his old tool box wrapped up still. Not sure who made them as I could not find a name but they have got to be old. I am 60 and they belonged to my father who passed about 20 yrs ago now. I started with one of them and well,......its still going several months later.

    Nicholson is an old company that gobbled up, I think it was Globe file the biggest competitor at the time, back in the 20's or 30's and they never looked back. Don't quote me on that but I know they took down all competitors till the had the market in the states and quite a bit overseas!! For years they had the market cornered but they have either gone to a lesser steel and/or changed their HT. The old files were thicker and actually can be re-cut. Their is a company and I would have to look its name up but they will re-cut files still today. Now that is a file of quality!!
    It's like everything else progress has taken away the need for files in a lot of industries. Cobalt or Carbide teeth on this and that, no need for a file to sharpen that!! Most are never resharpened but you are talking diamond wheels for those!

    Simonds files are supposed to be good but I think are kind of expensive! I have never tried them but have heard others talking about them!
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  7. scott.livesey

    scott.livesey Dealer - Purveyor

    the new Nicholson are from Mexico. at the office I found them on sale at MSC and ordered 3 ea in every size from 4" to 14". I have some old Simonds files that work well. as said, I like Bahco, if you shop they are about the same price as Nicholson or Simonds. except for sharpening, I mainly draw file and clean the file every 4 or 5 strokes with a fine tooth brush size wire brush.
    I think Ed's idea of buying from Home Depot and getting the no questions asked warranty is brilliant. take the tool back when warranty is almost done, get a new one and only pay for a new warranty. I did this with their little pressure washer for several years.
    progress has removed the need for some files, but I don't think proper file use is taught in school any more. draw filing is a quick way to remove a lot of material with just hand power. when making a blade, I spend 5 to 10 minutes a side draw filing before HT and starting the bevel. on thin material, 1/8" or less, after filing I can grind using 80 or 100 grit because I am not removing that much material and am just making the angle even and removing file marks. draw filing is quiet, makes no sparks or dust, no belts to change.
    to a newby, buy a name brand, Nicholson or Simonds or Bahco. get some big ones, at least 12". if only buying one or two, get basta*d style teeth as they are the most aggressive and will see the most use. don't forget to buy a wood handle, don't need blisters on your palms.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  8. C Craft

    C Craft Well-Known Member

    Scott there is a lot that is not taught in school anymore. Most schools have done away with their shops. I always cut in one direction unless I have a situation where I can't get a full stroke easily and then I use a double cut. I always try to card often.
    The new Mexican Nicholson files were finish files, and we are talking say about a 10"! I did buy one new bastard in a 12" and wasn't impressed with it all!!!
  9. scott.livesey

    scott.livesey Dealer - Purveyor

    had ok luck with mine, must of gotta a good batch. here is a short video that shows basics of draw filing. i have my best luck using the pull stroke
    Smallshop likes this.
  10. Smallshop

    Smallshop KNIFE MAKER

    Draw filing is about the only way to get a nice flat finish. In trade school (a private school where you tested to get in) our first project was a name plate out of was sawed squiggly on had to finish it with a draw filed finish...hold the length and width and put a bevel around the top that matched in each corner...also draw filed...then stam your name. You could scrap as many as needed...BUT...when the cut off time came...which I think was 3-4 weeks....if you did not have an acceptable name tag you either had to leave school...or go to "drafting" or "photo-lithography" as your major....either way you got booted from "mechanical-Technology" class. I remember feeling so bad for the kids that didn't make it...

    I went online to look at the school lately and all the manual trades are gone...figures.
  11. scott.livesey

    scott.livesey Dealer - Purveyor

    I agree. I was amazed at the finish you could be with just a file. I hate it also that manual trades are not taught. At the office, we had to fabricate and maintain a lot of equipment with minimum tools. there were times when we could not wait the week the machine shop nearby would take to make what we needed. we had two good bandsaws, welders, plasma cutter, and a drill press. shaping, tapping holes, fitting and assembling were all done by hand. we made our own jigs for bending sheet metal. some of the "school" graduates had never heard of lapping the face of parts before assembly, I mean that is why they invented RTV and thick soft gasket material.
    I think in a low volume situation, starting your bevels with a hand file will cost about the same as 'hoggin' with coarse belts, it may take a little more time but not use up belts.

Share This Page