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08.20 Wood Files

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Instructions for Using a Wood File

Tools and materials needed:

  • Wood file
  • Workpiece (the piece of wood you are filing)
  • Clamp (optional)


  1. Secure the workpiece in a vise or with bench dogs. This will help you to keep it steady while you are filing.
  2. Choose the right file for the job. There are many different types of wood files available, each with its own specific purpose. For example, flat files are best for smoothing flat surfaces, while round files are best for filing concave curves.
  3. Hold the file with both hands, one on the handle and one on the shank (the metal bar with the teeth).
  4. Position the file at a 45-degree angle to the surface of the wood and apply pressure.
  5. File in long, smooth strokes, moving the file away from you.
  6. Lift the file off the wood on the return stroke.
  7. Continue filing until you have achieved the desired result.


  • File with the grain of the wood. This will help to prevent chipping and tear-out.
  • Use light pressure when filing. It is better to make several light passes than to try to remove too much material at once.
  • Clean your file regularly. This will help to keep it sharp and prevent it from becoming clogged with wood shavings.
  • To avoid clogging, file in different directions.
  • If you are filing a large area, use a rasp first to remove the bulk of the material. Then, follow up with a file to smooth the surface.

Once you have finished filing, be sure to remove any dust or shavings from the wood before proceeding with your project.