Build Your Skills • Build Your Shop

Woodworker's Showcase:

Poker Chair to Exploding Cabinet

#136 July 2008

#136, JULY 2008


^Q Big Capacity M Storage Cabinet

A radically different way to build with plywood.

IXO Hammock Stand

An 18-ft.-long bent lamination? No problem.

!XQ Exterior Oil Finishes

Tips for protecting your outdoor wood furniture.

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Shop-Made Arts & Crafts Knobs

Make your own hardware with a router and a bandsaw.

Woodworker's Showcase

An exploding cabinet, a chair that looks like a playing card and other inventive projects from our readers.

Wooden SpringTongs

Salad tongs with a clever spring action.


Tool Nut

The Electric Carpenter is still going, 75 years later.


1Q Question & Answer

Unravel the mystery of wood file names, pick the right hook angle on a tablesaw blade, prevent a handsaw blade from popping out of the cut, and remove light rust using common materials.


Build a router table tenoning jig, design a mobile base that doesn't wobble, add a scale for your tablesaw's auxiliary fence, prevent your router from tipping on a dovetail jig, convert a pipe clamp to a work support, and make router wrenches more comfortable to grip.

A toddler discovers a dust collector's remote control.

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29 32

69 74 86

Tool Nut

The Electric Carpenter is still going, 75 years later.

Well-Equipped Shop

Jet JFM-5 mortising machine, Carter bandsaw table zero-clearance inserts, Veritas small router plane, Dremel scroll saw, Trend ellipse-making router jig, Lee Valley Tape Tip, E-Z-Mount door-hanging systems, Delta 36-750B hybrid tablesaw, Flexadux dust collector hose, DeWalt miter saw LED light, Kreg Klamp Table, Eagle Router Wizard Pro.

School News

Urban Boatbuilders

Building boats teaches life skills.


Choosing Hand Planes

Every size has a purpose. So what's a No. 5-1/4 for?

BuildYour Skills

Breadboard Ends

A clean look hides a sophisticated joint.

Turning Wood

Wooden Cowboy Hat

Watch the chips fly as a pro turns a ten-gallon hat.

My Shop

A new post and beam shop feels as familiar as an old barn.

6" singlecut mill bastard

10" singlecut mill bastard

double-cut single-cut flat file mill file double-cut single-cut flat file mill file

What are different kinds of files used for?

There are four kinds that you'll find handy in your woodshop:

• Cabinet Rasp. Use this coarse tool with a heavy pressure to rapidly remove wood, such as shaping a rounded leg. Its teeth are individually formed and separate from one another, leaving behind a rough surface. A Wood rasp is similar to a Cabinet rasp, but has coarser teeth.

• Pattern Makers File. Use this specialist's tool with a light pressure to remove wood fast. It leaves a much smoother surface than a Cabinet rasp. Its teeth are also individually formed, but set in wavy rows.

• Double-cut Flat File or Half Round File. These tools, used with a heavy pressure, remove wood slower than a Cabinet rasp or Pattern Makers file. They leave a relatively smooth surface that requires further sanding. Both files have two rows of teeth set at an angle to each other. Flat files are rectangular in cross section; Half-round files have one flat side and one curved side.

• Single-cut Mill File. Used with a light pressure, this tool produces a very smooth surface. It's generally used on metal rather than wood, such as sharpening a scraper blade. It has a single row of teeth. Mill files are rectangular in cross section.

When buying a Flat, Half Round or Mill file, notice its cut and length. Both factors affect the coarseness of its teeth, and thus the smoothness of the surface it leaves behind. In order of coarseness, the various cuts you'll find are: Coarse, Bastard, Second Cut, and Smooth. A Flat Bastard file, for example, cuts faster but makes a rougher surface than a Flat Smooth file. Generally you'll find a file's cut marked just above the tang, next to the maker's name.

Within each tvpe of cut, the longer the file, the coarser are its teeth (see photo, left.) A 10 in. Single Cut Mill Bastard file, for example, has coarser teeth than an 8 in. Single Cut Mill Bastard file. Files range from 4 in. long to 16 in. long, in 2 in. increments. Files that are either 8 or 10 in. long are about the right size for most jobs.


For more information, see the "Nicholson Guide to Files and Filing," a PDF available at brands/nicholson_files/. It's based on File Filosophy, an out-of-print 48-page booklet published in many editions since 1878 by the Nicholson File Co. Old copies are available through used-book stores and on the web.

6" singlecut mill bastard

10" singlecut mill bastard negative hook miter saw blade

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