June 1, 2017 by SteelWolfKnives
Tool Spotlight – File Sets
A good file set is not as important as an angle grinder in my opinion (though you could definitely make a good argument to the contrary), but it can put in small details that separate a good knife maker from a great knife maker.
Firstly, the small details. While files aren’t automatic, they have different shapes available and offer more precision. For instance, imagine trying to grind in a small choil with an angle grinder. It would be nearly impossible to get the right shape and smooth it out. With a triangle file you can start the choil exactly where you want, then smooth out the shape to a less angular one with a round file. A short video example of this can be found here.
Using an angle grinder would melt or burn a handle, depending on which materials you use to make your handle. Depending on the design, you might be able to use a belt grinder to etch it in, but often any details would be impossible with even a one inch belt. Using a pencil and sandpaper would take forever and only offer limited shaping. With the differing sizes and shapes available in files, you can do cool things to shape the handle into whatever design you want.
It is important to remember that whenever you use a file, you should only be moving it one direction. Usually this is pushing the file forward, then lifting it to move it back to the original position, but check with each file that you use. Sawing the file back and forth instead of just one direction limits the life of the file and can break some of the teeth, leading to less clean edges.
The file can also make your life a little easier as a knife maker. You can even up the shoulders with precision to perfectly match the bolster/guard. You can draw file (pull the file towards you sideways) beforehand sanding to get a smoother finish. With a set-up, you can set an exact angle for a secondary bevel. While you can do all of these in other ways, files are the perfect tool to do all of them. Having the perfect tool for these, in addition to the jobs that only files can really do, makes a file set a very important tool for knife makers.
Here is the file set that I use to make my knives.