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Art & Inspiration Metal files, files, the art of Zen

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by lostone, May 5, 2021.

  1. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,570

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    One thing I've got to do and enjoy during the building process of my 31 tudor is using files.

    I have one of the big adjustable body metal files, which I don't see used alot anymore, and regular hand files.

    With all the fitting and welding, from body panels to small brackets that I've had to do I've spent alot of time grinding and smoothing metal and welds.

    I use the 4-1/2 grinder with flap wheels to get the welds close then comes the best part.... The files !

    Don't know why but I'm one of those somewhat uptight builders, I guess since I do alot of the same stuff all day at work coming home and doing it some more takes its toll on me...

    But once I have that file in my hand I become Zen.... Can't explain it but sitting there with a hand file and slowly working the metal to shape, running my hand over it and feeling it change with each stroke. Then back to the file, slowly working the edges and high spots of the welds or metal itself until I get exactly what I want. Can't explain it but I don't get that Zen feeling from any of the other build processes, not board files or bondo or sanding...

    Anyone else just hit that zone with a file in your hand?
     
  2. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 7,384

    anthony myrick
    Member

    Metal finishing is the best part
    I’ve started using less filing as I’ve started using a shrink disc more.
     
  3. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 34,264

    loudbang
    Member

    For sure I also "get into Zen" when using Metal files. Know just what you mean about rubbing your hand across the metal to feel the progress. It was a trick my bodyshop mentor taught me when I was just starting out he said look with your eyes and tell me what you think or see ,(a quarter panel he was installing) I said it looks straight to me. Now he said close your eyes and rub your hand across this (same quarter panel ) and tell me what you FEEL.

    Well shit the lightbulb in my brain came on and I could FEEL the wave, couldn't see that wave, but I sure as hell could FEEL it. Did it like that every time after and still do. Thanks Donnie RIP.
     
  4. cfmvw
    Joined: Aug 24, 2015
    Posts: 623

    cfmvw
    Member

    Somewhere I have an old book about the proper use and care of files. Used properly, you can do some amazing things with them! On the other hand, I work with a lot of people who don't know how to use a file correctly, then just toss it in a drawer - yikes! Then again, those same people don't know how to use a hammer properly, either...
     

  5. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,570

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    Yes sir! It's amazing what your hands and fingers can feel vs what your eyes see.

    I've heard of people folding them up in paper towels to store them. I'm not one of those gents.
     
  6. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 34,264

    loudbang
    Member


    Yea bad idea paper traps moisture right on them.
     
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  7. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,570

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    As far as the paper towels the gent sprayed the files with wd40 before he wrapped them.

    I must admit I keep mine in a drawer all together.
     
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  8. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 6,669

    1971BB427
    Member
    from Oregon

    I'm anything but zen when it comes to all that hand labor!
     
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  9. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 7,384

    anthony myrick
    Member

    Crap. I even enjoy block sanding.
     
  10. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 3,333

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The thing that dulls files the most is people "sawing" back and forth with them. Most people have no clue as to how to properly use a file. A file is a great instrument in the hands of the skilled.
     
  11. Couldn't believe all the files my uncle had hanging up when I settled his estate - brought them all home - but then there are the smaller ones in the tool box - he did explain he liked to tweak things a bit.....
     
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  12. aircap
    Joined: Mar 10, 2011
    Posts: 1,581

    aircap
    Member

    I have more hand files than any other type of tool - die sinker sets, needle file sets, every size and shape of mill and bastard file you can imagine, vixen files, rifflers, rasps, four-in-hands, even a few custom made specialty files. I stopped counting at 150....
     
  13. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,570

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    Theres 3 things I have a bunch of- vise grips, C clamps and files.

    When ever I hit a flea market or garage sale I always look for tools, especially those above.

    I like flea markets best, I can usually find something to try the files on to check sharpness before I buy them.

    Its also amazing that with just touch and feel you know if that file is a good one in just half a stroke. I've grabbed 5 or 6 files and after 1 stroke with each one I've put most of them back.

    Like loudbang stated above its amazing what you can feel transfer thru the file into your hands.
     
  14. Although i find files a tool i like to go to over power, i find the entire process of letting the shape out meditative.
    The journey. Still working on getting it right
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
    Fordors, lostone, williebill and 2 others like this.
  15. AB02A9C9-0EBD-4E45-AF60-8856788F43FC.jpeg This thread almost sound sexual !!:D

    I will admit metal finishing brings a calm over me also, starting with a rough shape and weld and bringing it down and finishing it with grinders flap wheels files and sand paper does bring a zen and sense of accomplishment.

    I got a ton of old files I’ve bought at flea markets and farm auctions, I don’t treat them well, I feel bad now :oops:
     
  16. aircap
    Joined: Mar 10, 2011
    Posts: 1,581

    aircap
    Member

    Your photo made me cringe. Files sliding back and forth over each other as the drawer opens and closes is the best way to dull your files.

    I stand most of mine perpendicular in inch thick boards drilled full of holes - 8" X 12". For those in my toolbox, they reside in those plastic wrench caddies. The small ones for fine work are in plastic tubes or in plastic tool sleeves. I use several sizes of file cards and little brass brushes to keep the teeth cleaned up. Rubbing them once in awhile on a block of paraffin keeps them from rusting.
     
  17. Reidy
    Joined: May 13, 2016
    Posts: 155

    Reidy
    Member

    I have heard that there is a way to revive or resharpen files. Has anyone had experience with this?
    If so can you please enlighten us.

    Thanks

    Steve
     
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  18. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,525

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    I have many as most every one of us do . I worked as a line mechanic my first years of employment . If it wasn’t locked in my tool box it was public property . Working on the pipeline crew was the same , if not in your tool box on your truck you didn’t own it . The ones I have at the moment are stacked in my tool box , the worst thing for them I suppose , but I still own them . The ones I wear out or destroy , go to my life long Buddy to be crafted in beautiful works of art , knifes .
     
  19. vickckik
    Joined: Dec 21, 2011
    Posts: 79

    vickckik
    Member

    REVIVING FILES...I've had fairly good results using acid. First step is to use a file card to really clean the file. A file card is a wire brush that has short (1/4 inch) wire bristles. Then immerse the file in swimming pool acid for an hour or so. Rinse well with water and use the file card again. If the teeth on the file are not damaged, you will have a sharper file. It does not work all the time but is a cheap fix for a good file that you might find at a yard sale. There are lots of Made in USA files out there that can be rehabilitated.
     
  20. KevKo
    Joined: Jun 25, 2009
    Posts: 562

    KevKo
    Member
    from Motown

    My file story is my dad was a Journeyman tool and die maker. He gave me some of his old files when I was a kid to work on my model cars. Fast forward too many years and I’m still using them, only now on full size stuff. Dad’s been gone over 30 years now but using those files is almost like he’s still there with me.
     
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  21. Reidy
    Joined: May 13, 2016
    Posts: 155

    Reidy
    Member

    Thanks Vickckik, Do you have a preferred Acid or would old battery acid work?
     
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  22. 28dreyer
    Joined: Jan 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,158

    28dreyer
    Member
    from Minnesota

    Laughingly called a German Milling Machine by us apprentices.

    But taught by German journeyman to never run your fingers over the workpiece or the file itself.
     
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  23. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,570

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    ^^^ this!^^^^

    I have ran my fingers over the work only to find a metal sliver implanted into my finger off of an metal edge!!

    Sadly more than once!! You'd think I'd learn by now !!
     
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  24. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 5,457

    lippy
    Member
    from Ks

    What must be understood is, the metal must be real close to being the original shape before being ready to file. Filing takes metal off. You can take metal thickness off. I'll stop now. Lippy
     
  25. 28dreyer
    Joined: Jan 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,158

    28dreyer
    Member
    from Minnesota

    What???

    German tool maker apprentices were given a piece of square steel stock to file round to a given size, and then square again to another given size.
     
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  26. 28dreyer
    Joined: Jan 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,158

    28dreyer
    Member
    from Minnesota

    The reason for not running your fingers over the workpiece or the file had nothing to do with cuts or slivers, but what was on your fingers transferring to the workpiece.
     
    lostone likes this.
  27. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,911

    chopolds
    Member
    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    My alter to the gods of "Vixen". 100_2452.JPG
     
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  28. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,570

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    I have one of the metal adjustable files like on the lower right peg board and when I bought it, back in the mid 80's, the price about knocked me out!

    I ordered it thinking it came with the actual file especially for it's cost only to find out the file was separate and almost as much as the handle !!

    Just used it today to work out and metal finish a dent out on a 62 scout fender.
     
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  29. ramblin dan
    Joined: Apr 16, 2018
    Posts: 2,465

    ramblin dan

    I had to start a roller tool cabinet just to hold all my files and can't pass any by at a swap meet, garage sale or auction.
     
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  30. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,777

    jetnow1
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    I cleaned out my better halfs great aunts house for them. The house was sold as is, anything left was being thrown out.
    I brought home about 100 different files, as well as about 50 lbs of brass fittings. Brought a long bed pickup full of
    old marine paint to the recycling center. Her husband was a mechanic and charter boat captain. Sadly someone had stolen all his good tools years earlier. She passed at 103.
     
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