A common misunderstanding we make while discussing hand tools is to consider a file and a rasp as the same thing. Files are often disregarded as tools for woodworking, but they are actually extremely useful. Four grades—smooth, second cut, bastard, and coarse—give you additional choices in cutting aggressiveness. Files work best with metal, while rasps and rifflers serve only to carve wood or soft stone. From above left: files, rasps, and rifflers give you fine control over stock removal, and virtually no tear-out when shaping workpieces. ■ Rasps get greater use in wood shops than files and rifflers. Those with rows running at opposing angles are called cross-cut or double-cut files—these cut more aggressively than straight-cut files.Largely used for metal removal, files occasionally come in handy for fine wood removal, though they quickly clog in that application. is that rasp is a coarse file, on which the cutting prominences are distinct points raised by the oblique stroke of a sharp punch, instead of lines raised by a chisel, as on the true file while surform is a tool with which one grates, rasps, planes, or shaves material, especially wood, to form its surface. Send your woodworking questions to askwood@woodmagazine.com A smooth level stroke with a sharp bastard file will leave a surface every bit as fine as a handplane. Considering the different sizes and tooth configurations of files and rasps, selecting a starter set for shaping and smoothing can be downright dizzying, but don’t fret. As a verb rasp is to use a rasp. , difference between woodworking rasps and files, 19 Types Of Woodworking Files -Woodworking Tools Guide, 8 Types Of Woodworking Rasps -Woodworking Tools Guide, Hammer vs Mallet - What's The Difference? Why? Can you describe the best applications for each of these hand tools, and how to use them? Available in various coarseness grades, rasps perform superbly in controlled-cutting tasks, such as shaping cabriole legs or gunstocks, carving, easing edges, and tuning joinery. A file is meant to shape metal, and a rasp is meant to shape wood. ■ File and rasp handles increase comfort in holding the tool and controlling it. ■ Store them so they don’t contact each other and become damaged. You’ll find an array of profiles and sizes designed for specific tasks, such as deburring metal edges or sharpening steel teeth on handsaws or chainsaws. Send your woodworking questions to askwood@woodmagazine.com. ■ Cut on the push stroke; a pull stroke will prematurely dull the teeth. ■ Rifflers, also known as riffler rasps because they have teeth like those on rasps, have variously shaped cutting surfaces at each end. A rasp has very aggressive teeth, and a file has smaller, harder teeth. Coarseness is relative — a large file is generally coarser than a small one, even if both are labeled the same, and a rasp is always coarser than a file. Rasps with randomly spaced teeth (above right) don’t steer your hand straight back and forth or cut grooves, as rasps with regularly spaced teeth (above middle) do. Subtle distinctions separate files, rasps, and rifflers. File and Rasp Starter Set. A rasp is the same kind of tool but used only for shaping wood I’ve used the WOOD magazine “Drill Press Speed Chart” (woodmagazine.com/charts) for years, trying... read more, Subtle distinctions separate files, rasps, and rifflers. - Woodworking Tools 101, 15 Types Of Woodworking Nails – Woodworking Tools Guide, Redwood vs Douglas Fir Wood – Lumber Compared, Tips for Finishing Cherry Wood (+ 5 Quality Wood Finishes for Cherry), 11 Types Of Woodworking Hammers – Woodworking Tools Guide, Woodworking vs Carpentry (What’s The Difference? © 2020 Meredith Corporation. ■ Files have long teeth running across their width. Here’s a list of my go-to tools. How To Sharpen Your Drill Bits With The Drill Doctor, What To Look For In A Battery Powered Circular Saw. 1. Better rasps have randomly spaced teeth, as shown below, that help give you smoother surfaces and better cutting control. ■ For best control, hold the tool with both hands. File teeth, from finest to coarsest, come in SMOOTH CUT, SECOND CUT (or MEDIUM), and BASTARD CUT. A file is a hand tool used to shape many kinds of material by cutting. Get into the habit of lifting the tool at the end of each stroke and returning to the start position. Here’s what you need to know: The greater the variety of rifflers you have on hand, the better the odds you’ll have just the right shape to meet the task at hand. Even the coarsest files (above left) don’t cut wood as well as rasps, and tend to clog. You hold them in the middle when finely shaping hard-to-reach and concave surfaces. Although both of these tools perform similar tasks, each one performs a specific type of function. Do I need all three in my shop?—Tim Farley, Marshall, Texas. Rasps, from finest to coarsest, come in BASTARD, CABINET (or MEDIUM), and WOOD. Those with only parallel teeth are known as straight-cut or single-cut files. For more related content, subscribe to our newsletter! A file will shape wood, but not as effectively as a rasp. Scrollsaw, Carving, and Decorative Projects, Enjoy big-time safety cutting tiny pieces. Their teeth, shaped like tiny mountain peaks, cut wood aggressively, but with little tear-out or clogging. A rasp will not shape metal unless it is very soft, and it’s teeth will soon become dull and ineffective if used on metal. ), 5 Types Of Wood Glue – Woodworking Guides, 10 Best Types of Wood for Carving (Spoons, Bowls, Walking Sticks & More), A finer cut resulting in a smoother finish, Files tend to clog up easily while working on wood, Rasps are the ideal choice for woodworking, You get a rough cut, but without ripping the material, you are working on, A variety of different types and cuts for various jobs, You cannot use a rasp on metal and other hard materials, Limited range of rasps available compared to files. When making your own, drill the tang hole diameter to match the width of the tang at its midpoint. Push with one hand and guide the cutting surface with a finger or two of the other hand. I have a collection of files, rasps, and rifflers gathering dust in a drawer. ■ For longest life, clean rasps with a bristle brush, not a file card designed for files. What's the best bevel angle for my chisel? All of these tools give you great control when removing small amounts of material, Tim, but each is so different from the others that it makes sense to have all three types in your shop (as well as different versions of each type). You can build a decent starter set for about as much as you’ll pay for a single premium hand plane. All Rights Reserved. The primary difference between a rasp from a file is that rasps are primarily for wood, but files are for metal. Tend to clog coarsest, come in SMOOTH CUT rasp vs file SECOND CUT ( or ). 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