Files and Abrasives
Files are one of the oldest known tools, with some historians being of the belief that the use of stones as filing instruments predates even their use as knives and axes. In those early days, a piece of sandstone would have been very effective in smoothing and shaping a piece of wood into an instrument or tool. The materials and techniques have developed over the years, but the principle remains the same: filing allows a craftsperson to remove material from a piece of work in a controlled and systematic way, thereby smoothing and shaping it until the desired form is achieved. All the same, knowing your options when it comes to the different filing tools available will allow you to accomplish the best results with the minimum of difficulty.
Rasps and Files
A rasp is, in simple terms, a coarse file. The main difference between rasps and files is that rasps are used when there is a comparatively large amount of material to be removed from the piece. Rasps are usually made from a bar of case hardened steel and have distinct, individually cut teeth. While most rasps have been traditionally designed for those working in wood, Alec Tiranti also carry stone rasps to complement our range of stone carving tools.
Rifflers are double-ended tools designed to get into tight and irregular spaces. They excel at fine engraving work and creating dies and moulds. As most riffler files have differently shaped heads at each end it is important to decide which combination of heads best suits your needs. Riffler files usually have rasp teeth rather than file teeth.
Needle files are very small, narrow files with fine teeth. They are useful for precision tasks such as watchmaking, and in situations where creating a high quality finish rather than removing large amounts of material is the order of the day.
Artisans and craftspeople quickly realised the advantages of an abrasive attached to a flexible backing, with the earliest examples dating back almost two thousand years. These days what is commonly (and inaccurately) referred to as sandpaper or glass paper is available from any local DIY store. But the abrasive cloth supplied by Alec Tiranti is of a far higher quality and is suitable for rubbing down and providing a very fine finish on stone, resin, horn, metal, wood and stainless steel. For other applications take a look at our abrasive waterproof paper (“wet and dry”) selection.
As diamond has long been held to be the hardest natural material on Earth, it makes sense that it should be used as an abrasive when working materials which would quickly wear down tools made from anything else. Whether you’re looking for a diamond file set or a diamond riffler for stone sculpting, our range of diamond abrasives are manufactured using a process whereby diamond particles are attached to a nickel or resin base providing a hardwearing abrasive, capable of producing exceptionally fine finishes.