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  1. #1
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    Question Rasps and Files: Recommendations?

    I've searched the forums and been a bit overwhelmed with the amount if info and opinions here...

    I need a decent set of rasps and files. Good quality. Flat, half round, and a few diameter rounds. I'm not a fine woodworker, so it's really cleaning up ply/MDF and some hardwood after I've butchered it with a saw and router.

    Any thoughts on the microplane-style rasps?

    I don't expect them to last forever, but don't mind paying for quality.

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  3. #2
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    You might like the Shinto Saw Rasps. Not hugely expensive and quite effective.

    Shinto Saw Rasp – Japanese Tools Australia

    The Iwasaki rasps (like these) are also quite good for the money. Iwasaki make many different types/sizes/cuts of rasps besides the example shown. I quite like them and think they are good value for money.

  4. #3
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    Bernmc, you've posed a rather difficult question to answer! It's a case of the old "it all depends" again.

    Files are probably the easiest to start on. Most of the files you are likely to get at hardware & general tool stores come with plastic handles attached. You may like such handles (I don't, they are the wrong size for my hands & I dislike the feel of plastic), but the steet is usually of poor quality, or poorly hardened, or both, & they tend to give up the ghost quickly on just about any metal. OK if you only file wood with them. I'd recommend checking out Blackwoods online catalogue (no affiliations, just using them as an example), where you can get most sizes & shapes, sans handles (which saves quite a few $$s). The range of files available is shrinking as fewer industries use them the way they once did, but there is still a mind-numbing array of them available In case you are not aware, files come in 3 grades of 'cut', viz., smooth, second & bastard (increasing in coarseness in that order). Also, 'flat' or 'engineers' files are coarser than 'mill' files of the same size & length - a 'smooth' flat file is barely finer than the coarsest mill file of the same length. "Warding" files are very thin & can be useful to have in some situations.

    Rasps are a big can of worms. If you are only using them sporadically, and on material like particle board & MDF, I think I would settle for common hardware store stuff. The choice of cuts & sizes is very limited, however.

    The Japanese rasps like the one Mark linked to are very good, they last well and cut like fury (on wood), but can be a bit bitey & hard to control in some situations. They fall in an in-between price range & represent pretty good value for money, imo.

    Much as I love mine & wouldn't be without them, I wouldn't advise you to spring for the rolls-royce hand-stitched rasps of Liogier & Auriou at an early stage of your career. The prices are eye-watering, though they last well & are a real joy to use on good wood, and come in a huge range of sizes & cuts. There are Italian hand-cut rasps which are quite a bit cheaper. They are very good, but somewhat more erratic in how they cut compared with the French products, in my experience.

    There is really no such thing as a 'set' of files & rasps. You get what you need for the job. Over time, you will accumulate a lot of different sizes & shapes if you make a lot of different things that need rasps, but always another job will come along & you find you don't have exactly what you want! Another reason I end up with more files on the go than I need is because they do dull after a bit of use, and a slightly dull file struggles to cut brass, but will still cut steel ok, so I'll break out a new file for a brass job, but hang onto the slightly dull one for steel (then forget which is which & dull my 'brass' file on some steel ).

    My lot of rasps (I have more than a dozen) is biased toward smaller stuff like saw handles & plane totes, I have just a couple of larger ones suited to shaping a cabriole leg, for e.g.

    So my advice is, buy only what you need for the immediate jobs, and add to those as time goes by & you find you need other shapes & sizes. After a while, you will also have a much better idea of what cuts work best for your needs & end up with the most suitable tools for your particular needs...

    Cheers,
    IW

  5. #4
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    If you don't yet want to take the plunge on French rasps, which I highly recommend, you can get a good wood shaper in Nicholson Superior milled tooth files like this: VTG. NICHOLSON , SUPERIOR, 12" HALF ROUND STD. MILLED TOOTH FILE, 20667,PRICE EA | eBay
    Innovations are those useful things that, by dint of chance, manage to survive the stupidity and destructive tendencies inherent in human nature.

  6. #5
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    Check out the Narex rasps at Timbecon. I've got a couple & though I haven't used them a lot, seem to be good for the price.

  7. #6
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    +1 for the Shinto saw rasp, very effective and they don't clog much

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob streeper View Post
    If you don't yet want to take the plunge on French rasps, which I highly recommend, you can get a good wood shaper in Nicholson Superior milled tooth files like this: VTG. NICHOLSON , SUPERIOR, 12" HALF ROUND STD. MILLED TOOTH FILE, 20667,PRICE EA | eBay
    Those are fine if you live in the US, shipping to Oz is as much as the tool...

  9. #8
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    As others have said, files and rasps are a very touchy subject. Modern versions seem not to stack up against product from bygone eras and consequently potential buyers chase NOS (New Old Stock). It is my impression that much of the criticism increases as the file sizes get smaller. I don't really have technical information to back this up so it should be filed away (sorry about that one; it just popped out) in the anecdotal basket. In terms of large files I have found the Bahco products quite acceptable, readily available and not overly expensive: Certainly not budget level, but in 10" or 12" flat or half round very passable.

    Rasps are in many ways, not just the form, a different kettle of fish. I have quite a few Liogier items and they are far and away the best I have. I have not tried or compared them to the Auriou brand, which I hear are in a similar league. I have also bought some hand stitched (as opposed to machine cut) Tome Feteira cabinet makers rasps and they are cheaper and quite good, but not up to the Liogiers. Lastly I bought a dozen unbranded cheap rasps, which were a disaster and I wasted my money as they would struggle to shape Balsa.

    On medium hardness wood the Liogiers will last a very long time. I think all Liogiers are hand stitched.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  10. #9
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    Well, Bernmc, if you are not thoroughly confused by now, you must be well on the way!

    When suggesting tools for a newcomer, I try to bear in mind that unless they state that 'budget is no object', they will be looking at a reasonably economical entry, and there will almost certainly be other tools on their wish list competing for funds. 'Buy right, buy once' is good advice on the face of it, but what's 'right' for me may not be at all 'right' for someone else. I personally think there are many cases where you can kick off with a pretty ordinary tool, get the job done with it and learn something about the tool & how to use it to best advantage. To be frank, I think the qualities that make a hand-stitched rasp superior would be mostly lost on man-made board, you'd pay a lot of money for a tool that probably wouldn't perform 10 times better than these, (I'm sorely tempted to pick up a set next time I'm at the Big Green Shed just to see what they're like! ). And if synthetic boards dull rasps like they do saw-blades, your expensive rasp might have a brief & unhappy life.

    I agree with Rob that the Nicholson patternmaker rasps are good tools. A #49 was my go-to for every job needing a rasp for 30 years and I still think it's an excellent size, shape & weight for a wide variety of jobs, but for the cost of landing one here, you may as well stump up the bit extra for the Liogier version, which you can have in a wide range of tooth sizes......

    Cheers,
    IW

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