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Repurposing and old rusty file...

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  • Repurposing and old rusty file...

    So I saw this old rusty, pitted broken file in a box of files that came from my grandfather. He was a machinist for Mack Truck in Plainfield, NJ. He died in 1962 and this box has been in our shed forever. Over the years, my Dad and I have reached into PopPop's old tools whenever we needed a "special" tool.

    I saw this file as being a possibility for a gouge. So, I started cleaning it and I could see it was still a good file. But Nevertheless, I proceeded to make a gouge out it. I took my time and did the grinding slowly as to prevent burning the So, I have it almost finished. It can curl a clean chip but the edge still needs a bit more work for it to "glide" through the basswood effortlessly. It's about 7/8" wide across the cutting edge and about 3/16" deep at the center. It's definitely deeper than a #3 so I guess I would call it a #4 or #5.

    I don't want to grind down the file ridges. I thought to put a piece of pipe insulation over the portion where my left hand/fingers would go with my right hand on the handle. But it is too spongy. Then I thought to use some Gorilla duct tape as it is thicker than the regular duct tape. But I have concerns of glue weeping out over time and making a sticky mess of the tool. I'm not sure vet tape would work with the ridges.

    So my question remains is to what can I do to protect my fingers from the sharp ridges and still be able to undo if it doesn't work out. For now, my solution is to wear gloves on both hands since I am slowly becoming ambidextrous when using larger carving tools.

    At the least, you enjoy the pics, and know it's fun to repurpose an old rusty file into a fairly decent carving tool.
    210514_0000.jpg 210514_0002.jpg 210514_0003.jpg 210514_0004.jpg

  • #2
    BobL, this is what carving ,to me is all about. I like to find a good "old" piece of steel and make it work. Looks like you have found that idea and that old file has a new home and a set of familiar hands to carry it on in a tradition a bit different, but still being used. Thanks for sharing and good luck digging in PopPop's old tools. And about the sharp edges, I would just sand or grind the to fit well on your hands and fingers or you can find a wrap to tightly wrap around the steel but I think sanding /grinding would look better.
    Always hoping for a nice slice that won't need sanding!


    • #3
      VetWrap is inexpensive. I'd try a couple of turns as an experiment.

      Paint the file stitching with epoxy adhesive. Smooth, plastic and transparent.

      Also, I think you could grind the tops off all the file stitching and maintain the pattern
      to reveal what the steel had been in the first place.
      Brian T


      • #4
        My thoughts about your question.
        Put some very thin pieces of wood over the teeth of the file and fix these parts with a yarn. Either linnen yarn or a stronger sewing silk you glue to the wood with white glue pulling the windings very hard.
        If it doesn't care that the file gets rusty (because of water in glue) you can take a piece of raw hide (hope deepl said the right word for it; the same material chewing bones for dogs are made of) soak it with glue and wind it firmly around the teeth of the file where you want it.
        But my first choice would be to get rid of the teeth at all by grinding them.

        I like your way of upcycling (or is this a german "english" word) old things.
        Last edited by wasserretter; 05-15-2021, 02:22 PM.
        If you don't like to call me wasserretter call me Dirk


        • #5
          Nice work, Bob!

          wasserretter: Upcycling means to me to take something old and make something new out of it... Dictionary agrees with me: "reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original"

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          • #6
            I think I might try a wrap. The file stitching should hold it in place and it will give me some protection.

            I thought to grind the file shiny smooth--stitching, pitting, and all. But I decided to keep it as is. Although I have repurposed it, I really want to maintain the original file as much as possible. I think my grandfather would be pleased that I took one of his old work tools and turned it into a tool used for woodcarving--something that we both enjoy(ed).

            Thanks for all your help!



            • #7
              Very nice Bob!



              • #8
                2-IMG_0004.JPG 3-IMG_0005.JPG 1-IMG_0003.JPG Hi Bob, That File Gouge should last for ever . I made this Hunting Knife from a File 67 years while in the Navy . I was in the Machine Shop and had Machines to work with . The File was Heated to Soften it before Machining then after Harden it . I left a small section in front of the Guard not machined to show it was a File . The Handle is 2 pieces of Magnesium with a piece of Plastic Sandwiched in middle . It looks like Aluminum but the Chips will burn when lite with a Match . It has become a Keepsake as I'm sure that yours will also . Merle


                • #9
                  Thanks Dave!

                  Merle, that's a great looking knife! And thank you for your service!



                  • #10
                    I made a hook skew from an old worn out file.
                    skew hook (2).jpg


                    • #11
                      That's a great idea!



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by loftyhermes View Post
                        I made a hook skew from an old worn out file.
                        skew hook (2).jpg
                        How much tang was left to go into the handle? You guys repurposing these files inspires me to consider doing this myself. I've been looking to add a push skew to my collection and this might be something to consider...
                        Novice Carver
                        Exploring all I can in this artform.


                        • #13
                          There is a lot of history tied up in this business.

                          By 1750, documents show that the Hudson's Bay Fur Trading Company was shipping knife blades into what is now Eastern Canada. These were made in Sheffield, UK and became known as Mocotaguan knife blades. Wooden barrels, packed with these blades for trade. Essentially a 1-handed draw knife for framing snowshoes, packs and canoe parts. I have a genuine one, crappy carving knife. Maybe in fresh birch.

                          NOT as some ignorancia claim, a general purpose wood carving knife.

                          At about the same time, the HBC was also bringing in wooden barrels of 6" files. Very cheap.
                          Eastern First Nations figured out how to make a forge out of a trench in the ground with a charcoal fire. They used the cheap files and forged their own blades. The file tang was very cleverly fitted into the handle.

                          I have looked at fewer that 50 of these. I can only imagine the expertise that developed over time.
                          I bartered for a Sheffield blade. Glad I did, just to own and play with an example. Not again.

                          Brian T


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gfhwoodwerks View Post

                            How much tang was left to go into the handle? You guys repurposing these files inspires me to consider doing this myself. I've been looking to add a push skew to my collection and this might be something to consider...
                            The whole of the original tang (I didn't measure it) plus a little bit more when I hammered the handle on. It's not the original file handle, that was just a piece of dowel.