Materials and Equipment
Filing is the primary means of removing excess metal when shaping and finishing a sawn edge. Filing may also be used to produce decorative surfaces. Files are available in a variety of shapes and cuts (cut refers to a measure of coarseness). The most common shapes are flat, half-round, round, and triangular. A #2 cut (medium) is the most commonly used.
  1. Brace work securely against the bench pin or edge of bench. Small parts can be secured in a ring clamp.
  2. With even gliding strokes, put downward pressure on the file and push the file forward at a diagonal.
  3. Lift the file, recover and repeat the forward stroke and downward pressure. Files cut on the forward stroke. Pressure on the return stroke will only dull the file and shorten its life. The file should be cleaned frequently to remove trapped metal particles. This keeps the file from dragging and lengthens the life of the file.
Sanding removes less metal than filing and is generally used to remove file marks, refine edges, and remove surface scratches.
  1. Start with the finest grade of silicon carbide sanding paper necessary to remove the file marks and surface scratches.
  2. Work up through finer and finer grades of sandpaper taking care at each stage to remove all of the marks made by the previous grade. Sand flat surfaces in alternating directions, for example: 220 north and south, 320 east and west, 400 north and south, and 600 east and west. This will make it easier to see when all the marks from the previous grade have been removed. A burnisher and oil may be used to remove deep pits on the surface of the metal.
A final polish may be achieved after sanding using a brass brush or fine steel wool and soapy water. If a mirror finish is desired, cutting and polishing compounds may be used on a felt polishing stick and applied by hand.