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What are the best quality needle files?

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Simon Robinson 426/05/2022 20:08:17
80 forum posts

I got a cheap set of needle files and they have already dulled and blunted having used them for less than 20 minutes on wood. The ones I haven’t used yet have rust on them despite being kept in a dry centrally heated house. They were ok when I bought them.

What are the best quality sets of needle files that won’t wear away and won’t corrode? I use them most often for filing windows and doors in plastic models but also want to use them on metal too.

JasonB26/05/2022 20:18:26
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I've been buying the Tome ones from Arc for the last few years. Vallorbe are also good

SillyOldDuffer26/05/2022 20:23:34
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8883 forum posts
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How about Vallorbe?

This set on Amazon, yours for only £138.30! Beware of asking for 'best quality' unless stinking rich.

Arc Euro manage to find and sell mid-range tools at reasonable prices; I've done ok with the other UK model engineering suppliers as well.

Dave

Calum Galleitch26/05/2022 20:29:11
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Also worth asking: what kind of wood? There are certain species that have mineral inclusions that make them more akin to biological grinding wheels than free-cutting lignin.

Bill Phinn26/05/2022 21:16:59
768 forum posts
114 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 26/05/2022 20:23:34:

How about Vallorbe?

This set on Amazon, yours for only £138.30! Beware of asking for 'best quality' unless stinking rich.

Vallorbe, yes, Dave, but not that set if what you're after is general-purpose needle files; those are buffing files.

I've got the set myself. I paid £60 when I bought them almost ten years ago. They fill a sometimes useful niche between filing with an ultra-smooth toothed file (i.e. a no. 6) and polishing.

 

Edited By Bill Phinn on 26/05/2022 21:19:19

noel shelley26/05/2022 21:25:57
1442 forum posts
23 photos

In the context of files remember that a scrap of copper pipe will work wonders when a file is clogged. Noel

Nigel Graham 226/05/2022 23:24:04
2281 forum posts
33 photos

Some species of wood are not only abrasive as Calum says. (I am not a biochemist but I assume the tree absorbs minerals that then precipitate as extremely fine crystals; and that might include silica, second in hardness only to diamond.)

They may also contain tannic acid - oak is particularly known for that - or other corrosive chemicals.

Thor 🇳🇴27/05/2022 05:32:16
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1658 forum posts
46 photos

I too have found Vallorbe the best quality needle files. The oldest one I have is several decades old and still cut well.

Thor

Jon Lawes27/05/2022 06:25:10
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984 forum posts

I've still yet to find a file that gives as nice a finish as the one on my old leatherman! I think it is an industrial diamond coating of some kind. It doesn't seem to dull, gives a mirror finish and can be unclogged easily.

I'll give those Arc files a try too; I'm sick of poor quality needle files from allegedly good names. Of course, in my case this could be the workman blaming his tools....

Michael Gilligan27/05/2022 07:36:53
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20289 forum posts
1064 photos

You might find this old thread of interest, Jon :

https://www.model-engineer.co.uk/forums/postings.asp?th=137658&p=1

MichaelG.

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 27/05/2022 07:37:41

Calum Galleitch27/05/2022 09:26:21
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While we're on the subject, can I ask about filing HSS? I'm interested in making form tools - I know I can heat treat O1 or the like but I'd like to avoid the extra faff. I imagine diamond needle files are the way to go here but I'd like to get one decent set that will last.

Jon Lawes27/05/2022 09:39:03
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984 forum posts

Thank you Michael.

Dave S27/05/2022 10:31:26
374 forum posts
90 photos

I use a couple of sets of smaller diamond files from Arc for HSS (and carbide as it happens)

Dave

Laurie W27/05/2022 11:13:16
5 forum posts

I have found that needle and precision files by Vallorbe, Grobet or Baiter from Switzerland and those made in Germany by Dick (identified by a stylised arrow symbol) have all proved excellent over many years of frequent use. However when it comes to diamond files my experience has been a bit different. Whilst beautifully made my Vallorbe diamond files have proved disappointing in use as they lose their coating rather quickly. I no longer buy them and instead use those supplied by Arc Euro Trade which don't look as nice but perform far better and are far cheaper. Eternal Tools also sell diamond files which may be worth a try - their other tools have proved themselves to be good.

Edited By Laurie W on 27/05/2022 11:13:53

SillyOldDuffer27/05/2022 13:13:37
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8883 forum posts
1998 photos
Posted by Calum Galleitch on 27/05/2022 09:26:21:

While we're on the subject, can I ask about filing HSS? ...

HSS is a notch or two harder than an ordinary steel file and O1/Silver Steel so, in theory, you can machine files with HSS. Not recommended in practice, because a file is hard enough to quickly blunt an HSS cutter.

General advice in one of my books is to avoid machining anything harder than HRC 45. A file is about HRC 54.

Carbide inserts can cut HSS, but it's not often done for the same reason: HSS fights back, and is likely to damage the carbide in short order. Like two closely matched boxers knocking seven bells out of each other until the stronger one eventually wins and they're both taken away in an ambulance.

The usual way to shape HSS is by grinding. Big bench grinders are relatively quick and accurate in skilled hands. As a clumsy oaf, I've used a Dremel for tidying up HSS - cuts OK but very slow. Never tried to file an HSS tool by hand. Diamond is hard enough do it, but I suspect it will be a long exhausting job.

Dave

Dave

David Ambrose27/05/2022 14:46:30
28 forum posts
3 photos

Squires also do Tome needle files, and the larger ones.

jaCK Hobson27/05/2022 15:32:26
265 forum posts
93 photos

You might not need a full set? If just one, I'd go half-round.

I guess all good files will be prone to rust as the requirement is for very fine grain in the metal and stainless isn't great for that.

Cheaper Vallorbe are excellent. You pay more for a finer cut. Cut 2 should be a good starting point.

Heat treating 01 is really simple - the metal is designed to be easy to heat treat.

Hollowpoint27/05/2022 20:03:24
476 forum posts
59 photos

Vallorbe as mentioned are about the best but also probably the most expensive. They do a set they call "midget" which are supposedly their budget range. In reality there isn't much difference.

If you aren't bothered about a whole set then good quality new old stock can usually be had cheap on ebay. Brands like Stubs, Oberg, Sandvik, Grobet, and pferd.

Martin King 227/05/2022 20:16:45
1016 forum posts
460 photos

Hi All,

we get literally dozens of various needle files in with our tool lots and by far and away the best sellers and most asked for are:

Oberg, Vallorbe, Tome, and older Uk makes Stubs, Bedford etc

these sell very wel and command good prices.

Cheers, Martin

old mart27/05/2022 21:05:26
3892 forum posts
268 photos

My best ones are Vallorbe Swiss, and also I was able to get hold of a quantity of NOS Stubbs from a firm which had bought out the remaining stocks when Stubbs ceased manufacturing.

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