Scrap Wood File Handles


A Smidge of Yankee Ingenuity

While puttering in shop to put handles on chisles, I noticed I have a lot of files and rasps.   On top of that,  it occurred to me that I've inherited all but maybe ten.  The thing is, a lot of them don't have handles on them.  File handles are an essential part of a file,  mostly because they'll prevent an accidental hand stabbing (they also provide a comfortable grip).  Just like the countless other little projects here at 173, while I could just buy some handles, it'd be much more fun to just make some - you know,  another scrap wood project.  Let's get into it.

A Drawer Full 

When you count all the files...basterds to needles, I have nearly four dozen...a drawer full.  Besides four or five larger files that I picked up at a second hand tool store back around 1999 or 2000, the only files I bought was that set with the black and yellow handles.  I've absolutely forgotten when I bought those, but it's been quite a long time ago!

The Inspiration

Back in 2022 my former boss gave me her grandfather's tools.  He was a master carpenter and passed away 20-plus years ago, and had retired 20 years before that.  So, the two huge toolboxes hadn't been touched in 40 years!

Among so many other things in these tool boxes there were a bunch of files. Most of these I donated to The Tool Box, but I did keep a handful,  mostly the smaller ones.  And it is in these smaller files from which my inspiration flowed!  These were the first I'd ever seen with homemade handles... ingenious, and I'd never thought of that before!

The intentions of a tool are what it does. A hammer intends to strike, a vise intends to hold fast, a lever intends to lift. They are what it is made for. But sometimes a tool may have other uses that you don't know. Sometimes in doing what you intend, you also do what the knife intends, without knowing.” - Philip Pullman

Just for Fun

Before we get too far into this,  and just for the fun of it,  let's take a quick look at the different types of files and rasps, and their uses.  

First - the Files

Flat Files: Used for general-purpose filing, they have a rectangular cross-section and are ideal for flattening and smoothing large surfaces.

Round Files: With a circular cross-section, round files are perfect for filing curved or circular surfaces, such as pipes or rods.

Half-Round Files: A combination of flat and round files, half-round files have a flat side and a rounded side, making them very versatile for various tasks.

Triangular Files: Triangular in shape, these files are used for filing small, intricate areas, such as crevices and corners.

Needle Files:  Small, very slim files allow easy access to difficult and complicated areas.  Perfect for grinding different metals and hard materials such as ceramic materials, and glass.  Also known as Jeweler's Files.

Then - the Rasps

Half-Round Rasps: Similar to half-round files, half-round rasps have a flat side and a rounded side, making them suitable for shaping and smoothing curved surfaces.

Round Rasps: With a circular cross-section, round rasps are used for shaping and smoothing cylindrical objects, such as wood dowels or metal rods.

Flat Rasps: Used for general-purpose shaping and smoothing, flat rasps have a rectangular cross-section and are ideal for flattening large surfaces.

Forked Rasps: With a forked shape, forked rasps are used for shaping and smoothing small, intricate areas, such as crevices and corners.

Rasp Files: A combination of a file and a rasp, rasp files have a coarse side for shaping and a fine side for smoothing.

The Bastards

I started with a couple bastard files the other day.  Sitting in the workshop I noticed my little collection of "handle-like" scraps.  Some of those scraps were once upon a time parts of a coat rack that fell apart on a friend.  

Of course I took some parts, not knowing for what I would one day use them!

A bastard file is a file whose teeth configuration is in between a rough or coarse file and a 'second cut' file. In precise terms therefore a bastard file is one which 'is one cut finer than that of a coarse file'.

In common language a bastard is an illegitimate child, one born out of wedlock. However it may also allude to something that is unusual, irregular or disproportionate. It is this latter meaning that is employed in the term bastard file, not the former.

Dictionary etymologies for the term 'bastard file' are virtually nonexistent, but a plausible explanation is obtained from the meaning and use of this kind of file. In this context the word bastard alludes to a rather irregular file, in other words, referring to a file that can neither be classified as a 'coarse file' or as a 'second cut file'. - Nisha Fernandes

The spindles from the coat reach were a little too long to be handles so, I had an idea...

I cut off the ends, which made the long party perfect for larger files like the bastards.

And the little end nubs made perfect handles for small files!

Dowel Handles!

After making a couple "nub" handles,  my mind went back to those homemade handles on some of the files that came with those tool boxes. 

Which have me an idea... what not cut a few lengths of dowel?

And after pre-drilling pilot holes,  I has done nifty little handles,  all for the grand ol' price of - you counted right...$0!

I'm really liking these non-traditional homemade file handles, they're in the fine tradition of others who came before me!

Their Natural Habitat

The natural habitat for my files and rasps has always been the top drawer of one of the tool chests. Originally they were in the chest I picked from the poor man's flea market a couple decades ago at the hospital I worked at. And to this day they still live in the top drawer of my Craftsman tool chest that replaced the old one. 

So, that wraps up the maybe slightly interesting story of the homemade file handles here at 173.  Inspired by some inherited tools, I love the simplicity of the handles!

Thank you so much for stopping by - see ya' next time!
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