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File Cuts, Styles, & Shapes

Metal files used in jewelry making can be found in many styles, shapes, and sizes, each in a wide array of cuts. Choosing the right file for the job is important. Download a pdf of File Cuts, Styles, & Shapes. You can also read a text description of this information below.

File Cuts, Styles, & Shapes

Swiss File Cuts

  • Cut 6: 173 teeth per inch
  • Cut 4: 117 teeth per inch
  • Cut 2: 79 teeth per inch (97 tpi for escapement files)
  • Cut 1: 64 teeth per inch (79 tpi for escapement files)
  • Cut 0: 51 teeth per inch (64 tpi for needle and escapement files)
  • Cut 00: 41 teeth per inch (51 tpi for escapement files)

File Styles

  • Full Size Files: 4” to 8” cut length (not including tangs). Should be secured in a handle for comfort. Used for removing material from large areas.
  • Habilis Files: 8” to 9” overall length. Handles are thick and shaped for comfort. For in-between jobs, too big for needle files and too small for full size files.
  • Needle Files: 4” to 6” overall length. Handles are knurled or covered with vinyl grips. Used for small surfaces and getting into tight areas.
  • Escapement Files: 5” to 6” overall length. Length of cut is shorter than a typical needle file (11/2” to 21/2”). Also known as square handle needle files.
  • Rifflers: 6” to 7” overall length. Uniquely shaped, curved profiles with double ends. For getting into tight areas, especially for filing curves.
  • Silversmith’s Rifflers: 7” overall length. Slightly larger than standard rifflers. Double ended. Available in a smaller range of shapes and cuts.
  • Inox (Valtitan) Files: Available in Full and Needle File sizes. Specially hardened for working with platinum and stainless steel. Yellow tangs for easy identification.

Barrette File

Tapered in both width and thickness with only one cutting edge and safe sides that angle sharply back. The triangular profile allows this file to get into tight spaces to file one surface without effecting adjacent surfaces.

Equalling File

Rectangular profile with parallel sides and thickness. All four sides have teeth: double cut on top and bottom, single cut on both sides. This file is used primarily for filing slots and corners. It also makes a good general purpose file due to it’s wide, flat cutting surface.

Hand File

Similar in profile to an equalling file, with four parallel sides. The hand file has a slightly tapered thickness and is cut on only three sides, leaving one safe edge. The top and bottom are double cut, while the side is single cut. This file has a wide variety of uses.

Pillar File

Parallel in width and tapered in thickness, like a hand file. The pillar file is double cut on the top and bottom and has two safe edges. It is typically more slender than a hand file and available in several widths. The safe edges allow precise filing without effecting adjacent surfaces.

Half Round File

With one curved and one flat surface, the half round file is well-suited for many applications, including: removing material from the inside and outside of curved surfaces. It is tapered in width and thickness and comes to a point, allowing it to get into tight areas.

Marking File

Similar in profile to a half round file, but cut only on the curved surface, leaving the flat side safe. The sides and thickness are tapered, coming to a fine point at the end. The uncut flat surface makes this a safer file when filing inside curves.

Round File

Round profile gradually tapers to a point. This file is double cut along its entire length. The round file is used to enlarge holes, file a bevel on curved edges and to round off radii. Also available with a parallel (non-tapered) profile, perfect for filing seats for hinge knuckles.

Square File

Square profile gradually tapers to a point, with all four sides double cut along their length. This is a good general purpose file with many uses, including: scoring lines for bending 90˚ angles, refining slot corners, and making round holes into square holes.

Three Square

Also called a triangular file, the sides of this file gradually taper to a point. All three sides are double cut. When used along a corner of the file, it will create a V-groove with a 60˚ angle. Useful for filing/refining seats in prongs.

Crossing File

This file is similar in profile to a half-round file and is used primarily for filing interior curved surfaces and compound curves. The crossing file has two curved surfaces, one having a larger radius than the other. Both are double cut.

Knife File

The knife file is best suited for filing grooves and getting into narrow slots, keyways and acute angles. The sharp profile has teeth on two sides with a safe top edge. Width and thickness taper to a fine point.

Warding File

Similar in profile to the equalling file, but with tapered sides that come to a point. Useful for removal of burs and for filing narrow slots. Double cut top and bottom with single cut edges.