Metal files in some form or another were one of the first tools used by mankind for deburring, cleaning, honing and smoothing off various materials. They are one of those tools that all homeowners, whether avid DIYers or those who just like to be well-equipped, should have.
The thing about metal files that puts a lot of people off is the fact they are available in a staggering variety of sizes, shapes and types. There are so many out there that it can be very overwhelming and quite intimidating if you don’t really know what you are looking for.
That’s where the team here at Internet Eyes have stepped in to lend a helping hand, by not only showcasing what we believe are the 10 best metal files available in the UK right now, but also providing a comprehensive, yet concise buying guide that gives the lowdown on this effective and versatile range of tools.
Best Metal files UK 2020
The first item we have in our guide is a 16-piece set from the highly reputable and trusted manufacturer Rolston. The company has a sterling reputation in the industry and this set is another example of why they are held in such high regard.
Made to very high and exacting standards of quality, there are 12 x 140mm needle files that include feather edge, joint round edge, oval, crossing, barrette, knife, flat taper, round, square, tri-square, half-round and flat parallel varieties and 4 x 200mm files including half-round, flat, round and tri-square varieties.
That’s more than enough files to cover a multitude of different tasks and jobs. Each is finished with comfortable and durable plastic handles which makes them easy to use and control. All the pieces fit neatly inside a handy storage pouch, so you will never need to wonder where you’ve put them or search high and low for them.
Next, we have another reputable brand and their offering in the form of Preciva’s 16-in-1 set of wood rasp files. These are manufactured using drop hammer forged T12 alloy steel, offering durable teeth that are deeply coated and quenched to offer long-lasting boring and cutting performance.
In the set you will find 4 large-sized files, including a round cymbal, semi-circle, triangle and flat option and 12 more precise and finer needle files including round, three-square, square- warding, equalling and ring options. All of which are ideal for working with a variety of different materials such as plastics, leather, ceramic, tiles, glass, mirror, metals and woods.
This set also comes in a portable and compact storage case and the feature tightly connected and finely ground handles that have been ergonomically designed for easier use. All of which helps to reduce the chance of fatigue, especially if you are carrying out a lot of cutting and shaping work.
Another name that often instils confidence is Draper and that’s who is behind the development and manufacturing of this next 16-piece file set. The appropriately-named Redline series features ergonomically-shaped soft-grip handles and consists of 12 x 100mm needle files and 4 x 200mm Second-Cut files.
The collection of needle files in this set includes feather edge, joint round edge, crossing, barrette, knife, tri-square, square-, oval, half-round, round, flat taper, and flat options along with the larger flat, tri-square, half-round and round second cut files.
This set features its own purpose-built, high-quality canvas carrying case. Given the company, originally founded by Bert Draper, has been around since 1919, an investment in this set, even if you are not as familiar with files as you would like to be, would be a very smart one.
From Yato Professional, the next file set we want to discuss is this striking collection of 5 large files. All feature colourful, soft-grip handles that are designed to make life and work easier, whether you are only using them for short spells or for longer and more detailed work.
The collection includes a half-round, 2 x flat, triangular and round file and is perfect if you want a reliable set you can use for a number of different tasks and materials. They are made from high quality, tough and very durable T12 alloy steel, so you know you are getting a substantial set of tools for the low asking price they are retailing at right now.
In fact, for that price, you would struggle to find a more professional looking and efficient set of hand files.
We’re back with Rolson for this 5-piece set of engineer files. Rolson has built up an enviable reputation for producing high quality and affordable hand tools in all shapes and sizes. People trust the brand because they are rarely let down by the tools the company designs and manufactures.
This set of engineer files is no different and includes 5 x 200mm tools. There is a half-round, square, triangle, round and flat option, meaning that an extensive range of uses and tasks is fully covered. If you are looking for a small set of versatile files and don’t want to break the bank too much, this might be the best set for you.
They have rubber-cushioned, soft-grip handles that have been made specifically to reduce discomfort and fatigue, especially if you need to apply a lot of pressure while working with them.
The company’s expertise and experience shine through from the point down to the handle. These are impeccably made.
Next up we have this rather stylish and robust set of 5 files all made with ergonomically shaped wooden handles that provide an amazing level of impact resistance, comfort and precision. Each file has also been fashioned from robust high carbon BW1C steel. Characterised by its high hardness, strength and durability.
The multipurpose collection of professional 250mm tools consists of a square, round, triangle, half-round and flat file, all with coarse grade cuts. They have been designed to be used in a variety of ways and are suitable for working on just about any material including glass, stone, plastic, wood and metal (such as copper, iron, tin, aluminium and many more).
Even if you have never heard of the brand name, the price these are available for and the exquisite design and styling of them makes them hard to pass up on easily. That’s how we feel anyway. When you have spent a lot of time looking at mostly plastic-handled tools, a set with soft and comfortable wooden handles is a sight for sore eyes.
From another relatively unknown company, Bluesees, we have another impressively low-priced set of high-quality files. This set features 10 x 160mm needle files including a double concave, cutter, square, round tapered, round, triangle, half-round, flat rectangle, oval and flat tapered options along with 1 x 8-inch flat file.
While the 10 smaller files are made from a mix of diamond and alloy steel, the longer tool is manufactured from alloy steel with a hardness rating of 62HRC that ensures it will continue you to offer the strength and versatility you need for a long time.
Although the handles may look like there is nothing special about them, they have been ergonomically-machined to provide you with a comfortable grip that helps to improve the precision of your work while reducing how much fatigue you are likely to suffer from using them.
As is the case with most of the sets we’ve featured so far and the subsequent models highlighted below this one, these files have been made to work well with numerous materials including plastic, leather, stone, silver and gold jewellery, ceramics, tiles, glass, mirror, metal and wood.
On and in case you are wondering, the darkness of these tools compared to others is down to the high percentage of carbon used in their production.
Now for a set, you are going to love if you are looking for files to carry out more precise and intricate work. From a company called Dylan-EU, this set of needle files are made from a mix of diamond particles and metal and are finished with a very smart, if a little different, gold surface.
All measure at just 140mm and feature non-slip and extremely comfortable soft rubber grip handle. All of which is perfect for protecting yourself from fatigue or injury from accidental slips or drops.
With a total of ten to choose from, just about all of the main and expected file shapes are included, making them suitable for a variety of different tasks including polishing, grinding, deburring and roughing. It also means they are suitable for use with many different materials such as glass, ceramics, plastic, metal, bone, stone and wood. You can use them therefore on anything from wooden furniture to glass mirrors and even automobile parts and products.
Did we mention that for a set of 10 metal tools you won’t need to spend more than a tenner? We wouldn’t wait around to snap up this great deal if we were you.
We’re back with Draper for this next set. This time it’s an 8-piece collection of engineer’s rasps and files. Manufactured from high carbon steel, these are designed to last and perform well for you, time and time again, offering you a great and balanced combination of brute force and intricate precision.
The sophisticated and professional-looking handles are made from soft-grip rubber, finished with a subtle blue and black and featuring hang holes. As you can probably imagine, they won’t hurt your hand very easily, even after you’ve been working for a long time and applying a lot of pressure to them.
All those great points aside, though, the most important thing you need to know that is in this set you get a round and half-round rasp, along with a three-square, square, round, half-round, hand and flat file. Rather than being kept inside a storage case, Draper has opted to include a trendy, effective and very portable tool roll in the same blue and black as the handles.
The final product we felt outshined many of the other sets of files out there is this 12-piece kit from a company called Fedlink. In this set, each of the 12 needle files is made high-quality metal and feature ergonomically-designed moulded plastic handles that offer an adequate degree of comfort and dexterity required for precision needle file work and is 140mm in length.
The set of 12 includes 2 x flat hands along with a knife, crochet, crossing, oval, triangle, square, half-round, taper round and flat taper. They have been designed with all manner of delicate and detailed work in mind whether you are looking to finish off materials, surfaces and projects, get involved in profile cutting or have a lot of fine abrasion tasks to complete.
They may not look like anything special or as smart and striking as some of the other sets we’ve featured in this guide, but these, according to the customer reviews submitted regarding them, will perform the job they’ve been designed for well.
Best Metal Files UK – Buying Guide
While we are sure our list of the 10 best metal files, we’ve focused on above will help you to find the right tool you need for the kind of jobs you’d like to complete, you may still feel a little intimidated. If you are new to buying these kinds of tools, for instance, you could need a little help differentiating between one file from another.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy buying guide. In it, you will find a lot of the important basics you need to know about metal files.
Understanding the Anatomy of a Hand File
One of the most important things you need to understand about hand files when buying them is the different parts of these tools. The end that is generally attached to a wooden or even plastic handle is called the tang. You will find that whereas some have handles built onto the tang, other models, like farmer’s tiles and similar tools, have wider and flatter tangs that act as handles.
The file’s body starts at the tang’s base at the part called the heel. The next part is then referred to as the face or belly, and that is where all the cutting actually happens. Interestingly, there are many files that often have more than one faces or bellies, each with different tooth patterns.
Likewise, a file’s edges can either have teeth or be completely smooth. The edges that are smooth are known as safe edges and depending on the profile and shape of files, they can have either round, tapered or flat edges.
Funnily enough, at the opposite end to the tang, you have the point. Although this is very rarely pointed and normally squarish in shape, it is called the point because it’s the part of the tool you point at what you are working on.
As well as helping you to understand the anatomy of a file, these details also help you to understand how the length of a file is measured. It’s the measurement taken from the heel’s base to the end of the point. Neither the handle nor the tang is included in this measurement.
You will find that the majority of hand files tend to either be classified as American Pattern or Swiss Patten.
Swiss Patterns come in seven different cuts, determined by their coarseness, ranging from the very coarse to the very fine, 00 to 6. These are manufactured to very exacting dimensions and are finer and smaller in comparison to their American Pattern counterparts.
Swiss Pattern hand files are normally between 3 and 6-inches in length and thanks to their narrow points and teeth that extend out to the edge, they are perfect for working in tight and small areas, being favoured by the likes of die, tool and model makers as well as watchmakers and jewellers.
American Pattern hand files come in three different cut grades – Bastard Cut (it’s the actual name), Second Cut and Smooth Cut.
- Bastard Cut – this is the coarsest and can be used to cut through various materials very quickly.
- Second Cut – this is the medium coarse cut that can remove material quickly but offers a smoother finish than the above.
- Smooth Cut – as the name suggests, this offers a nice smooth finish, thanks to the finer teeth that are also handy for preparing a surface for sanding.
With American Pattern hand files, the coarseness is not just determined by the cut, though, as the length can also have an impact. For instance, a 12-inch Bastard Cut will be a lot coarser than a 6-inch Bastard Cut. The reason is simple – shorter files are used for finer and more intricate work.
Generally, the finest American Pattern hand file you are likely to find will be the 4-inch Smooth, whereas the coarsest you are generally likely to find would be the 16-inch Bastard.
Types of File Faces
Another way to differentiate one file from another is by the face. Although you will mostly come across files that have either single or double-cut faces, there are four different types you need to be aware of.
- Single-Cut – files with just one set of teeth that cut in a single direction. These are normally used for sharpening items like scissors and knives and can grind material very quickly without the need for too much pressure.
- Double-Cut – files with two sets of teeth, both cutting material in different directions. As you would imagine, these provide much more abrasive and aggressive cuts and are used to remove smooth wooden surfaces, shape metal and even rust. More pressure is required to use these effectively.
- Curved-Cut – the name speaks for itself; these files have curved surfaces that are normally used when working with plaster, fibreglass and cart parts.
- Rasp-Cut – these are files that feature numerous individual teeth and are predominately used for working with wood.
File Profile or Shape
Last but not least, the other main way files are categorized is by their profile or shape.
Hand, Mill and Flat
- Hand Files – these have square points with widths that is the same along the surface, with the only changing being the thickness.
- Mill Files – these get thinner and narrower along the surface
- Flat Files – these are thicker in the middle and gradually get narrower and thinner towards the edges
Half-Round files feature both a curved side and a flat side.
These are files that are rounded and feature teeth around them. They are often referred to as rat-tails and are normally used for smoothing metal by removing any burrs and making round openings bigger.
Square files have four sides that can be used for cutting and are generally used to make square-shaped openings much bigger.
Triangle or Tapered
Triangle or tapered files have three sides, with two being designed for cutting and one for smoothing off surfaces.
These have a variety of uses from sharpening teeth on various tools to be filing corners to create perfect squares and working with materials with angles of less than 90-degrees.
There you have its folks, our guide to the best metal files available right now in the UK. We hope after you’ve had a chance to check out the reviews and our detailed buying guide, you have a better understanding of the intimidating world of these incredibly useful hand tools.
Our part in helping you find the right file is done. We’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting and research for you, presented you our findings and offered some insight into what you should be looking for, the rest is up to you now.