I have a couple dozen old files from my grandfather's shop. They are
old and rusty. Some are inexpensive and were not very good files when
they were new, but others have very nice wood and metal handles. I'd
like to refurbish them but have no idea how to do it. I tried a good
quality rust remover without success. Any ideas?
If you want files that will actually work, pull the handles off these
and install on new files. Otherwise, hold them in a vise and use a
minigrinder with a wire brush spinning in the same plane as the
grooves in the file. Eye and face protection are required to keep rust
and wire bristles from becoming imbedded in your face. That should
remove most of the rust.
There is a highly regarded file sharpening service out there for files
that is highly regarded and relatively inexpensive. They have gotten
good press on all the hand tool forums.
Buy some new files. The difference is amazing. They're a medium-cost
item, because you need a handful, but they're not a major cost and
they are very useful. Get _good_ ones - there's a difference.
You can't de-rust files by normal cleaning. You'll get the rust off,
but the teeth lose their edge. Try using a new file once - you'll
appreciate the difference for "sharp".
There is an acid-etch process for restoring old files. This is a
commercial send-it-away process, but the results are supposed to be
New handles are cheap - I wouldn't bother re-using old ones. "Python"
handles have a metal spring inside the socket and are a bit easier to
fit. Plain wooden handles are usually fitted by clamping the file
(wrapped in cloth or leather) in a vice, heating the tang with a
blowlamp and then burning an accurately-fitting hole into the handle
(takes a few repeats). Then finally use a mallet (not a hammer -
you'll split the wood) to push them firmly on. A coat of Danish Oil is
a good finish to stop them getting too dirty too soon. Plastic handles
are garbage - you can never get a good tight fit. Always use
_something_ as a handle; file tangs into the wrist are a classic
workshop horror story.
Try Googling as well - a few threads on files in the recent past.
I throw my old files in a fire pit and let them cool overnight. I then grind
and shape them to make knives, scrapers, lathe tools etc and then heat treat
them to harden the edge. I have an unlimited source of tool steel for next
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