Author Topic: Refurbishing Files  (Read 3791 times)

Online WadePatton

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Refurbishing Files
« on: April 17, 2018, 06:19:42 PM »
I am no expert at this, but I'm beginning to think one doesn't have to be. I've just now gotten around to having some experiences using files that I've soaked.

Long story short, I'll never discard a file again without giving it at least one or two acidic baths.

I never got around to sending off files to a refurbishing service, but did recently find that an acid-bath can freshen up most files. I started with old, terrible files and they started looking good, so I soaked a bunch more. But having plenty of files I'd not really give an serious workouts to these files, but they all usually felt really fresh and sharp to my hands when cleaned from their bath.

I use household vinegar and let them go 2 nights minimum. Also this makes a great bunch of iron acetate "stain"-if you'd like to try such (but that's another topic).

What really surprised me were these two extremes.  First was a "found on the ground" type bastard with serious scale and pitting (looked hopeless). Needing a good long file to fix an ax the other day I grabbed the first 12-incher I saw and started working the bevel. As the bevel was dirty and nicked up I didn't notice it right away, as the file was biting into the steel just fine, but something didn't feel right. I then flipped the ax and started on the other bevel and got the same "not proper" feedback.  THEN I looked at the file as I knew I was into clean metal on the work. 

The file was the pitted one.  I was feeling the pits of course, but the remaining teeth were cutting the dog out of the steel.  WOW.  So that's a truck-file for sure.  It'll be great for field/coarse work and was totally useless before.

Second file didn't feel right when I cleaned it from the soak. So I resoaked it.  Still didn't feel right.  Put it to metal (that same axe) and it won't bite-and it's the FIRST one I've gotten no renewed sharpness from. 

It has a name on it. Naked eyes see only an "M".  4x microscope reveals the "REST OF THE STORY"--which is "India".  So that one goes into the bin and I'll be careful not to purchase any similar again.

Vinegar, file (of good stock), 2-nights, scrub off the nastiness and lightly oil. See what you think. Cheers!
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Offline David R.

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2018, 07:15:58 PM »
I just sent a big load of files, about two dozen, (all USA made) to Boggs for repair. Been well pleased with their service in the past.
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Offline g.pennell

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 09:17:38 PM »
Wade, I’ve heard that method for years, but never tried it. I have several “crash test dummies” available, so now it’s off to the shop and see what happens. I never throw away files...😉

Greg
“Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks” Thomas Jefferson

Online WadePatton

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2018, 05:18:48 AM »
Wade, I’ve heard that method for years, but never tried it. I have several “crash test dummies” available, so now it’s off to the shop and see what happens. I never throw away files...😉

Greg

If I were married, I wouldn't get caught rinsing them off indoors.

I'm not, and the dogs don't care, so I do. But it's some funky stuff.
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Offline Black Hand

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2018, 04:14:40 AM »
If I were married, I wouldn't get caught rinsing them off indoors.
You guys are finding the the wrong women...

Offline Mauser06

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2018, 05:25:56 AM »
Trappers use the same method to clean up rusted traps...

When I first did it (with traps) I thought they were nuts because vinegar will cause rust....

But it works like a charm. 



I snagged a BIG box of old files at a sale. Like..50-80 or so.  Sadly most are regular ole files and the same stitch. I was going to degrease and try the vinegar soak to clean them up.


Many are probably trash.  Some will need resharpened professionally...but I've already used a couple and they are good.


Glad to hear the vinegar soak works! 

Online WadePatton

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2018, 07:27:41 AM »
I've a new batch going with a big rattail in it. The rattail was so bad I took a pic before.

Rusty tools is what I started with. And with an ax you can see how far back temper is drawn by the shades of gray on the metal after you de-sludge it.

If I were married, I wouldn't get caught rinsing them off indoors.
You guys are finding the the wrong women...

I'm workin' on it. I figure a Tipi and a Cabin should lure some in...  ;)
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Online Bob Roller

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2018, 05:22:34 PM »
What kind of vinegar? My wife buys a cleaning vinegar and we also have
some that can be used in salads.

Bob Roller

Offline Pukka Bundook

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2018, 05:34:52 PM »
Bob,

Just white regular vinegar.
I save the malt vinegar for me fish 'n' chips.
(It's not he same after doing files in it......)     ;)

Found old shifting spanners (Adjustable wrenches) in the fields at times, also old fencing pliers, and even if frozen into a glob of rust, all come back to life after vinegar treatment, but may need a week or so to soak if Really bad.
Look poxy but they work.

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2018, 05:42:48 PM »
Once again, Evapo-Rust comes to the rescue.  It will get rid of all the rust, leaving only clean metal; you rinse it in plain water and it don't stink; and it is re-useable until it's completely reacted, which is good because you'll use it on other projects.

PS...Wade, my brother and his wife lived in a tipi for almost a year while building their log cabin.
Dave Kanger

A dedicated person with just a pocketknife can accomplish more than a lazy person with an entire toolbox.

Offline David R.

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2018, 07:45:07 PM »
Wade, the different shades of grey you see on old axes may be the two different metals used in their construction, i. e. the carbon steel bit forge welded into the wrought iron body. Most cutting tools were made this way before modern times. You can see it in old chisels, drawknives, plane irons, etc.,. This is how I like to make axes, with carbon steel bit sandwiched between wrought iron cheeks. You can get by with just a bit harder temper this way as the tough old wrought iron kind of protects the steel.
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Online WadePatton

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2018, 07:11:47 PM »
What kind of vinegar? My wife buys a cleaning vinegar and we also have
some that can be used in salads.

Bob Roller

5% acidity is what I use Bob.  White or colored doesn't bother me any.  I re-use it (keep it capped mostly) until rusty metal no longer sends up bubbles. And the used stuff can be used to stain wood.
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Online WadePatton

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2018, 07:27:33 PM »
Wade, the different shades of grey you see on old axes may be the two different metals used in their construction, i. e. the carbon steel bit forge welded into the wrought iron body. Most cutting tools were made this way before modern times. You can see it in old chisels, drawknives, plane irons, etc.,. This is how I like to make axes, with carbon steel bit sandwiched between wrought iron cheeks. You can get by with just a bit harder temper this way as the tough old wrought iron kind of protects the steel.

Are modern axes made this way? I figured it was industrial energy saving to treat only the bidness end of such a thick tool (relative to other cutting tools). I don't figure mine is that old. Are that old- any of 'em.

I hadn't seen the following video before just now--but it shows how I expect mine were made.  I see homogeneous alloy, shaped and sharpened, then appears to be inductively heated and quenched. And that's the line I saw.



« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 07:34:22 PM by WadePatton »
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Offline David R.

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2018, 03:55:26 AM »
Wade here is a pretty dramatic example of what I was refererring to where you can clearly see the definition between the wrought iron body and the steel cutting edge in this very old broadaxe. I didn’t know you could visually see the temper as you are referring to.






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Offline ddoyle

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2018, 08:20:33 PM »
This report A Frontier Blacksmith Shop 1796-18 is the bible for understanding axe construction. Not light reading.
Alot of expensive analysis of alot of artifacts/date. I have not found anything better.  At one time we spent tax dollars/revenues on useful stuff!

http://parkscanadahistory.com/series/saah/blacksmithshop.pdf

Offline David R.

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2018, 04:01:29 AM »
Ddoyle, thanks for the link, I will save it.
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Offline ddoyle

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2018, 04:18:30 AM »
Yeah it is a good 'un. I had been tracking an OEM printed version for some time and recently got word that an old Parks retired uncle of the wife's is suppose to have some copies in a box, If they materialize I'll post one to you cause your the guy who should have one. I have trouble getting all the learnin in a text off a screen. 

Online WadePatton

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2018, 06:50:59 AM »
Also thanks for that link.

And also I do have some Japanese knives made of different layers of steel. Very keen edge, second only to my shaving razors.

 Soaked a big rattail that was crusty, put some life back into it for sure.  When I get pics made I'll add them. but my truck has to be fixed as it just went down this eve. Might take a minute.
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Offline David R.

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2018, 02:34:45 PM »



Here is a bunch of files I just got back from Boggs Tool. We sent out about 27 pieces in all. Me and a couple others shipped them together to save postage. Worked out to about $3 a file including all the shipping.
The ones with red on the tang were ‘rejected’ which means they were damaged or rusted too bad to meet standards. They clean them anyway and only charge minimal amount. Even the rejects are better than the ones you can buy new now.
These were all USA made.
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Online WadePatton

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2018, 06:01:47 PM »
...Here is a bunch of files I just got back from Boggs Tool. We sent out about 27 pieces in all. Me and a couple others shipped them together to save postage. Worked out to about $3 a file including all the shipping.
The ones with red on the tang were ‘rejected’ which means they were damaged or rusted too bad to meet standards. They clean them anyway and only charge minimal amount. Even the rejects are better than the ones you can buy new now.
These were all USA made.

Those look great. It's certainly the way to go for folks who have more money than files- and some free time for making their own mess. I will soon, but just having 3 per each to spend on commercial refurbs hasn't been an option for a while.  I'm getting picky about what I soak now and hope this will help me get the longest lives out of all the Black Diamond USA files I can find. 

The pitted files I did, no one would even think to send in for refurbishing. And they'll do rough work no problem.  I'm getting to where I use certain files for rough work to keep the mileage down on my better cutters.  I gotta work out my tang painting scheme--so I can look "pro".   8)
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Online Bob Roller

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2018, 10:48:02 PM »
Recently after reading about the vinegar I pickled about 8 and it seems to
work fairly well. I have some old Swiss Barret files I tried this on and they are usable
again along with some old IXL's George Killen gave me and he died back in 1977.

Bob Roller

Offline tim crowe

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2018, 12:05:19 AM »
Wade , try toilet bowel cleaner. I have used it before with good results. TC

Online WadePatton

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2018, 05:15:19 PM »
Wade , try toilet bowel cleaner. I have used it before with good results. TC

I have no complaint about the cost and toxicity of Vinegar.  Yes i have some other acids around, and could fool with them and might later.  But I've got a new gallon of white vinegar, and it's not going into the pickle jars.  Vinegar soak is now how I start the refurbishing of just about every neglected tool I refurbish.

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Offline David R.

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2018, 02:01:11 AM »
That reminds me I put some in to soak day before yesterday I need to check on.
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Offline D.E.Powell

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Re: Refurbishing Files
« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2018, 06:31:13 PM »
Wade....Thank you for the White vinegar tip... cleaned up several old Nickleson  U.S.A. made files... works very well.  Not a lot of spending coin here; old retired guy. Oh and I like them straight razors too  ::)