Using files on wood

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Forum topic by jtruc34 posted 01-02-2020 06:42 AM 1445 views 0 times favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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31 posts in 216 days

01-02-2020 06:42 AM

I’ve heard some people saying files are for metal and not wood, while seeing many other using files on wood. I know rasps are for shaping, and certainly not finishing, but is there any reason I would want to use a file for wood?

Plus, are there any specialised files that are designed specifically for wood and not metal?

Thank you!

45 replies so far

View Andre's profile


3252 posts in 2490 days

#1 posted 01-02-2020 07:05 AM

I never use the same file on both metal and wood but yes files made for metal work fine on wood.
This is my go to wood file!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Kelly's profile


2830 posts in 3628 days

#2 posted 01-02-2020 07:10 AM

Generally, a fine file loads up too quick to be of use with wood. However, there are always those times you need to improvise….

If nothing else, a file can make an excellent sandpaper holder. . . . .

View Eric's profile


189 posts in 921 days

#3 posted 01-02-2020 07:50 AM

Iwasaki wood files from Japan. Files made for wood. Work really well.

-- Eric

View robscastle's profile


6846 posts in 2888 days

#4 posted 01-02-2020 09:56 AM

Surform files are what you need, they do wood and food,
So if you need excuse for buying some just let swimbo know its actually a cheese and vegie slicer shredder too.

-- Regards Rob

View Madmark2's profile


1039 posts in 1272 days

#5 posted 01-02-2020 11:44 AM

A wood file is generally called a rasp.


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

285 posts in 1459 days

#6 posted 01-02-2020 11:47 AM

I use my metal files on wood, not going to hurt them.

View ibewjon's profile


1392 posts in 3477 days

#7 posted 01-02-2020 12:26 PM

If doing fine shaping on wood, I use a file. Better finish than a rasp.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6060 posts in 3177 days

#8 posted 01-02-2020 12:34 PM

They said above, no harm in using metal files on wood. I just did that this morning. They are a little slow at wood removal but sometimes that’s what’s needed.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2242 posts in 846 days

#9 posted 01-02-2020 12:48 PM

I think the gist of multi-purposing hand tools between wood and metal is
the possible cross contamination of metal filings imbedded into the wood.
a good file brush greatly decreases this possibility.
not only just to prevent contamination, but is a good practice to keep your
files in good condition.
there are no written laws of using metal tools on wood. if it works for you,
that’s great. (I am in the multi-purposing camp, myself).


-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View OSU55's profile


2603 posts in 2673 days

#10 posted 01-02-2020 01:12 PM

I have a set of Iwasaki wood files, excellent for shaping. I like them better than rasps. I then use files for steel to refine the surface and then sandpaper to prep for finish.

View JayT's profile


6388 posts in 2895 days

#11 posted 01-02-2020 01:55 PM

As others have said, metal files work just fine on wood, think of them as an extra fine rasp. I use them all the time when shaping the hand planes I make. Double cut files are a great bridge between rasps and finish work and then progressively through the single cut files to achieve a finish ready surface. Files do need to be brushed out frequently as they clog up quickly in some woods. The harder and drier the wood, the better they work. Something like Osage Orange or super hard exotics file beautifully, while softer woods may only get a few passes between cleanings.

For files specifically for wood, I have some Iwasaki’s and a couple from Corradi. The Iwasaki’s are better going with the grain than the Corradi, IMHO, but vice versa when going cross grain or dealing with random grain, like in highly figured wood or burls.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Rich's profile


5371 posts in 1273 days

#12 posted 01-02-2020 05:13 PM

The Shinto sawtooth rasps are very unique. Made from saw blades, they have a coarse and a fine side, and will not clog up.

An especially unique design, the planer rasp can be used in the middle of a board, unlike other rasps that have inline handles.

I have the 11” rasp and the planer rasp and use them often.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Bill_Steele's profile


679 posts in 2415 days

#13 posted 01-02-2020 05:31 PM

+1 on the Shinto rasps – I have one and they work well and do not clog.

View MrWolfe's profile


739 posts in 807 days

#14 posted 01-02-2020 05:38 PM

Chiming in on Rich’s suggestion. Great tool!
I use mine to get me 95% of the way there on convex surfaces. Then a finer rasp or even progressively finer grits of sandpaper stuck to a block with carpet tape or Super77.
Here is an assortment and each has its place in my work.


The double knife tip detail file is especially handy too and it has a course cutting end and a fine cutting end. The back is flat and the top is curved. Great tool. I’ve had these for years and I think I got them at Woodcraft.

View Phil32's profile


998 posts in 587 days

#15 posted 01-02-2020 06:09 PM

Small files in multiple shapes designed specifically for wood are called rifflers They are usually sold as sets like these:

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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