Monday, May 26, 2014

File cleaning - Part 1

Clogged files are a perennial problem on my workbench. It's mostly my own fault as I don't really treat them with the respect they deserve.

I'll happily file all whitemetal which clogs the teeth. The files live next to the soldering iron stand and so occasionally get a wash when I pour water on the sponge. I've even managed to spill lemonade on them and there is no faster way to promote rust than this it appears.

Despite this, they do me well. My oldest must be 20 years old now and still sees plenty of use on harder metals. I am a good buy, treating them to regular brushes from a file card to remove the lead alloy and other muck.

Spotting a abrasive cleaning disk on the S&M Tools stand (careful how you search for this) at a recent event, it claimed to "Extend the life of abrasives and files, needle files, sanding blocks etc." and that's worth £3.50 of my money.

The block is made of a sort of rubbery resin. As far as I can tell, the file is rubbed on it and cleaned in the same way that a pencil eraser removes graphite from a page. The rubber bonds to the muck and flakes away.

I'd have to give the results (for me) a 6 out of 10. General muck is removed but it can't touch the whitemetal. I think this varies depending on the file. A file tooth quarter inch file saw little improvement but a coarse needle file looks a lot better.


Tanllan said...

Hi Phil,

That file cleaning block you described seems worth a second look. I wonder if Gariflex or similar products would work?

A quick and simple tip for preventing files clogging up in the first place. Rub a piece of ordinary blackboard chalk across the face of the file before starting work. Repeat the process frequently especially when filing soft stuff like white metal or aluminium.



Ian Cooper said...

I've only ever built one white metal kit, but I found an effective way to unclog needle files was to pass the flame from a gas pencil torch across it.

The white metal would melt without the file getting hot enough to loose its temper. A final scrub with a wire brush would fully unclog and return normal function.