Author Topic: Diamond File for flints  (Read 1007 times)

Offline Don Steele

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Diamond File for flints
« on: June 14, 2019, 02:55:08 PM »
I've seen folks post comments about the use of "cheap diamond files" to extend the life of their flints. I was intrigued and found just such an item online so I placed an order. The set of 6 files was something like $10.00.
They are of varying grit. I picked one of the rougher ones to test on my flints. Over the last few months, when I have been able to focus on my flintlock shooting, I've used that file to dress the rock on my rifle from time to time.
At this time, I am able to report a couple of things that I have learned:
1. Using the file sharpens the leading edge without resulting in loss of length of the flint nearly as quickly as happens using the traditional knapping method. The distance from the leading edge of the rock to the frizzen face remains constant for a much longer period i.e.: more shots before needing to move the rock forward in the jaws of the cock or replace it altogether. In the first picture (below) you are looking at a flint that has fired a little over 50 shots. It has been touched up along the way with the file. I took this picture after the last 22 shots were fired, after cleaning but before any additional dressing was done. It has not been adjusted forward in the cock since I installed it. 



2. Patient use of the file applied evenly across the entire underside of the flint will reduce the natural thickening that occurs when restoring the edge by any method. It also reduces/eliminates the "roughness" or un-evenness of the edge that we see when knapping. As a result, once you acquire a little skill with the file (and use a little patience) your flint will retain a sharp smooth (not jagged) edge that will fully contact the face of the frizzen as it passes across it, even after many shots have been fired. The picture below is the same rock. I tilted the lock a little and put some light underneath it to enhance the area where I am filing away the thickening (note the area that appears to "glow" in the light)



For anyone wishing to give this a try, one lesson I learned was to dress the rock frequently, not wait until it stops working altogether and then try using the file to bring it back to life. I'm not using a lot of pressure on the rock. Just enough to maintain even contact and allow the tool to do the work.
Disclaimer: It's entirely possible that my own knapping skills are not sufficiently well developed and those who have mastered that art will have no problem achieving these same benefits, but that's not me.
I'm keeping a couple of these "cheap diamond files" in my shooting box and don't care about any "HC" issues.
Look at the world with a smilin' eye and laugh at the devil as his train rolls by...(Alison Krauss)

Offline Molly

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2019, 08:05:48 PM »
Been using one for years.  Purist may poo poo the idea but it's easy, fast and effective.

Offline hanshi

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2019, 10:09:52 PM »
I have a set of diamond files I bought from HF several years ago.  They seem to be of reasonable quality and were certainly cheap.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.

Offline Carl Young

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2019, 01:11:01 AM »
Don, thanks for the idea and for taking the time to put together a well-written cogent post with photos! This is an idea I had not seized on previously, but the way you present it makes a lot of sense to me now.

Regards,
Carl
… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses. -Juvenal

Online Bhmack

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2019, 01:43:25 AM »
I find it super easy to just tap, tap, tap, tap and done when I need to re-edge a flint but I do love your idea for preshaping one that might be a bit thick or otherwise wonky. Great post. Thanks for getting the old wheels turning.

Bobby
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My Highland ancestors were sentenced to ‘Transportation’ in lieu of death by King George after the Battle of Culloden. Serving time in Dixie since 1741.

Offline Bob Roller

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2019, 06:44:24 PM »
I have a set of diamond files I bought from HF several years ago.  They seem to be of reasonable quality and were certainly cheap.

I also have a set of Harbor Freight diamond files and they seem to work well
for what I want to. Never thought of dressing a flint with one but if it works
then use it.HF has a few good items and I bought a horizontal cut off saw from
them 2 and 1/2 years ago and it is over built and very well engineered.$259and it replaced an American made saw that I paid $200
for in 1963 that was completely shot after 54 years of use.Also have bought a 6" bench grinder from them that has the best wheels
I have ever used but their replacement wheels are poor and I will not use them.At their current prices I can buy another grinder for
$3 more than replacement wheels from another source.

Bob Roller

Bob Roller

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2019, 06:48:33 PM »
I get the most out of my flints using a small hammer, and a Knapping pin. I find it much faster than a diamond file, and it removes very small flakes.

  Hungry Horse

Offline wmrike

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2019, 07:18:11 PM »
I was intrigued and tried it.  By golly, the files work!  I was certain they would just bounce off the flint.

Still, if a flint gets slow on me or flat refuses to work, I just replace it.  Fast, easy, and sure-fire.  Back home, I put the worn flint in the vise and dress it using a combination of pressure and percussion work applied with an eighth-in punch.  I enjoy the task.

Offline Curtis Makamson

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2019, 10:22:24 PM »
I reckon this means I'm headed to Harbor Freight in the morning.
Dubious artisan, semi-literate writer, pretend photographer, woeful speaker, impractical dreamer, hoarder of distractions, purveyor of irrelevance, connoisseur of whimsy, prolific starter, paltry finisher.

Offline hanshi

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2019, 03:26:04 AM »
My normal practice is to knapp the flint in the jaws.  Often, though, when I get a non-spark clack, I'll dress the flint edge with a file or even a knife.  This usually gives at least a couple more good shots before I need to knapp.  Back at the ranch I'll work with the diamond files to get a few more shots from the flint.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.

Offline Don Steele

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2019, 02:11:12 PM »

To sort of close this topic out I thought it appropriate to post the most recent picture showing where I'm at with this test.
In the picture below, you see the same flint shown in the original picture. Over the last 50 shots, since taking the original pictures dressing with the diamond file has resulted in some shortening. I finally reached the point of needing to add a spacer behind the rock. This rock now has 100 shots on it.  It's still sparking good and I'm not sure how much farther I will push it, but it has been an interesting test.

Look at the world with a smilin' eye and laugh at the devil as his train rolls by...(Alison Krauss)

Offline Jerry

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2019, 09:30:52 PM »
The diamond file gave me several more shots. Plus, I’m still using the same flint. Great idea. Thanks.

Offline Jerry

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2019, 09:39:29 PM »
I use this aluminum over size hand vise for a lot of things, but with flint out of lock, I’m using it to hold my flint while sharpening.


Offline Don Steele

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2019, 11:37:45 AM »
I have a very nice L.S. Starrett No. 86 hand vise that has been in my family my entire life. It's the perfect tool for holding flints that need more severe dressing than I want to do while they are in the lock. 
Look at the world with a smilin' eye and laugh at the devil as his train rolls by...(Alison Krauss)

Offline Molly

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Re: Diamond File for flints
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2019, 01:31:29 PM »
My "file" is about the size of a credit card and equally thin.  I glued it to a small length of wood, say a 1x2 about 12 inches long.  I set it on a work bench and the file remains stationary (hold it down with one hand)  while I hold the flint (with my fingers on the other hand) and move it over the face of the file.  Also, you need to add a drop or two of water to the surface of the file.