Recently I was putting together my Christmas list and I asked my friend Barry Young for his opinion on selecting files for the machine shop. I have a set of inexpensive needle files that are adequate for plastics and soft metals, but they haven’t held up well when I’ve used them on steel. I needed to upgrade to a better set of files and I had my eye on a 12 piece set of Nicholson needle files. But before I added them to my Christmas wish-list I wanted his opinion. The following was his educational reply:
“Hi Tyler,Nicholson makes excellent American-pattern files, I do not care at all for their Swiss-pattern needle files. For those, get files from Glissard or Grobet.Grobet are easiest to find. The 33.907 model number Grobet is an excellent 6 piece set (all you will ever need) of fine files. In needle files you want the finest cut you can get. Cut 6 files are wonderful. Cut 2 (coarser) are readily available while cut 6 (fine) are harder to find. The 33.907 is Cut 6 (fine).
Grobet 6 piece set (cut 6 #33.907) Fine
Grobet 12 piece set (cut 6 #33.909) Fine
For an explanation of files check out this PDF, which is an excerpt from Machine Shop Know-How.I have a set of 6 Glissard Cut 6 (fine), a set of 12 Grobet Cut 6 (fine) and a set of 12 Grobet Cut 2 (medium) as well as a set of 8 Grobet rifflers which I have used a total of once for about two minutes. I do not recommend that you buy any of those at all. Just buy the Cut 6 (fine) Grobet files and learn to use them. You do not need the 12 piece set but if you feel the need get a 33.909 set.That takes care of needle files. To round out your set of files you will need:
- 4″ mill smoothing file
- 6″ half-round mill bastard file
- 6″ half-round single cut file
- three square #2 taper smooth cut file
Which leaves us with all but the most important of files: the smoothest, longest pillar file you can find. That’s about it. I don’t see much need for the barette’s or other fancy shapes. They just don’t get used enough.Hope that helps!- Barry”
If anyone else would like to chime in with their file expertise please do so by joining the discussion via the forum link below.