Building out your jewellery making tool kit?
You’ll already know that there are a huge amount of metal working files that you could invest in to perfect your craft. But let’s face it – not everyone has the budget to pick up their ideal kit right from the off. When you’re just starting out it’s worth getting to know the different types of hand files available to you so that you can educate yourself on the merits of each one. This will help you choose the right types of metal files for the designs that you want to create, without breaking the bank.
Different types of files and their uses
Here’s our rundown of essential jewellers’ hand files and the uses for each one:
1. Flat file
An essential for beginners. A flat file has (you’ve guessed it) a flat surface and is used to file larger, flat areas of metal, to straighten up edges, and to work on the outside curve of a ring. With your flat file, you should always use a forward motion for filing and try to make sure that the piece you’re working on is held level for a clean, straight edge.
But what about the handle?
You’ll notice that a lot of jewellers’ hand files do not come with a handle. These can be bought and fitted separately so that you can find the handle that works best for you. How do you fit the handle? The easiest way to do this is to carefully heat the end of your file with a hand torch and then using a mallet to fix the handle firmly in place on your hand file. Take care when doing this for the first time as you’ll want to make sure that your handle is completely straight and parallel with your hand file.
Our recommendation: For a good all-rounder, choose a flat file with a cut 2 grade. This level of coarseness is ideal for a number of metal working jobs, and will be a good choice for building out your beginner’s set of different types of hand files.
2. Half round file
A half round file features one flat side and one rounded side. The rounded side is useful when it comes to shaping and filing the inside of a ring shank. When working on the inside of a ring, the half round side of your file should be used in a clean, sweeping motion to shape, remove fire scale, and to finish. Keep in mind that your half round file is not solely for use with rings. You can create all sorts of curved shapes and cut outs when you use your half round file at different angles. When you change the angle of your half round file, this will change the radius of the curve that you working on.
Our recommendation: Half round metal working files are a versatile tool so it’s worth investing in one right from the off. Choose a grade 2 or 3 file to start with as you will be able to easily remove metal material and start the finishing process with this grade of coarseness.
3. Crossing file
A crossing file looks similar to a half round file, however it actually features a curved radius on both sides. It has a slightly higher dome on the one side, helping you to create a varied range of curved shapes and cut outs. Each side of the crossing file is tapered so that you can file in tighter spaces as well as larger concave surfaces.
Our recommendation: Still a beginner? Stick with a half round file to begin with to create rings and simple curves and work your way up to investing in a crossing file as your designs progress and become more complex.
4. Barrette file
What is a barrette file? This type of metal working file only has cutting teeth on one flat side. This makes it a great tool to work with if you’re worried about marking the metal you’re working with as you file. As the one side is tapered and smooth, it means you don’t run the risk of undoing your filing work by marring the metal you’re working with.
Our recommendation: Excellent for precision work on small and large areas, pick up a barette file when you need accuracy and want to avoid damaging your design and creating more filing and finishing work for yourself!
5. Needle files
When it comes to the different types of metal files available, there are a couple of 6 inch hand files that you’ll certainly want to invest in as a beginner. But as your metal work and filing skills quickly progress you’ll want to step up the finishing element of your work. One way of ensuring more precision is by getting to work with a set of needle files.
They improve precision filing simply because they are a smaller set of jewellers’ hand files. At 16cm long, with a cutting surface of 8cm long as well as a much smaller cutting width, needle files will help you get into all of the nooks and crannies that you need to for more delicate designs.
What are needle files used for?
- Flat or pillar file: A rectangular shaped needle file with teeth on all four of its flat sides. A general purpose needle file for use with flat surfaces, filing the ends of wire straight, or eliminating small bits of solder from joins.
- Square needle file: With a square cross section and a tapered edge, this needle file is great for filing into corners at a 90 degree angle.
- Triangular needle file: Also tapered to a point, this needle file is adept at filing into grooves or creating grooves, for example, marking out a bend in sheet metal ready for cutting.
- Round needle file: With teeth place all round the needle file and right to the very tip making this the ideal file to use in tiny spots such as jump rings and clasps that have been soldered and require some tidying up.
Our recommendation: If you’re still at the beginning stages of building up your metal working files, start with a smaller set of jewellers’ needles. You’ll soon get to know which needle files work best with your style and the designs you like to work on.
Now you know more about the different types of files and their uses, you’ll feel confident investing in the right set of files for the jewellery you create. Don’t forget to pick up all the metal working files you need here at Cooksongold in a range of sizes, shapes, and cuts.